Day V1: Homeland Arrival! - Caucasian - CycleBlaze

July 1, 2024

Day V1: Homeland Arrival!

The flight couldn't have been any better.  Despite the initial snags, it was very smooth and landed early.  Better yet, the bike was all there ahead of time along with the checked bags that I whisked off the belt.

I had been dreading immigration with this border as there is seldom if ever a positive experience.  Today proved to be the exception.  Thanks to arriving from Tokyo they only asked two questions.  

- "Where are you coming from?"   Tokyo

- "What were you doing there?"   Visiting family

And that was it.  They didn't even look at my passport.  No mention of working in China and nothing about dictator Xi.  That settles it.  From now on future trips from China to Canada will route via Japan or other places as a stopover.  It pretty much has to be that way anyway because direct flights are scarce, super expensive, and with shitty service.  You can thank politics for all that.

With all that spare time now, I could finally slow the pace down and just chill at the airport and gather my bearings.  It was surreal in a way being back in my home country.  After more packing and repacking of bags, I walked around, bought some drinks, and encountered sticker shock.  This was not entirely unexpected.

The decision had already been made on the airplane:  I was going to bike to the next destination after arriving.

Unfolded and assembled. We're off!
Heart 0 Comment 0

Logistics were about to get complicated because there was going to be another family reunion potluck at my Aunt's place which was about a 35km bike ride from the airport.  This would be in the afternoon, but the check in for the Airbnb nearby wasn't until much later.  At the same time I didn't want to be biking with a whole bunch of bags, so what to do?

A compromise plan emerged:   I would bike midway to a luggage dropoff facility downtown, get rid of half my shit for a couple days, then keep biking with some bags to my Aunt's place.  Then I would bike to the Airbnb, check in, and then bike back downtown to pick up the rest of my bags the next day.

This was also going to provide motivation of the next 2 weeks to basically whittle down half my bags so that the next part of the trip would be with a far lighter load.

Satisified with this plan, I set off.  While family thought I was nuts for doing all this biking, this was actually not much compared to my usual tours.  We're talking only 35km compared to usual daily average of 100km or more.  So really, viewed in this perspective, it was really just a warmup.

The roads were a lot more bike friendly.  Not on par with other places I've been to, but certainly a huge improvement when I used to remember biking in the Vancouver area.

First turnoff after the airport and crossing the first major bridge
Heart 0 Comment 0
Very interesting building spotted along the way
Heart 0 Comment 0

The weather started to get better and better as the day went on, then things became sublime.  It was also Canada Day, our national holiday, and as such the roads were pretty easy to ride on.  Compared to what I was used to, this was bliss.

I mostly took the bike paths through the residential parts of Vancouver and then stumbled upon this coffee shop with all the outdoor seating.  This made an idea place for a stop.

Coffee stop
Heart 0 Comment 0

As I got closer and closer to downtown, the views got more and more spectacular.  It occured to me that I've been traveling the world over and there is no place like home.  It felt so great to be back, and honestly I was not expecting these feelings to surface so quickly.  For some reason the predominant feeling was how grateful I was to have a Canadian passport.

I think what happened is that many years ago I got jaded with the life and politics in my hometown.  Not much has changed; that certainly still holds true now.  I then went in search of a better life overseas and definitely found that in China, basically in two stages:  one from 2001-04 and the other stage which were some of the best years of life from around 2006-16.  But as we've talked about here many times, things started to change.  It's not like China ever had decent human rights.  We all knew it was miserable but we could ignore it and not talk about politics or Taiwan or whatever since the overall lifestyle and economics remained great.  For many years, that was the social contract.  Yet after the covid lockdown especially, it became crystal clear that the government was not interested in keeping the economy going or this social contract anymore.  They would sacrifice all that in order to exercise total control, and effectively devastate the economy for their policies to that end.

To cap all that off, there was never a chance that you could get any kind of path to citizenship by staying X number of years in China.  Even marrying a local wouldn't get you any benefits.  You would always be an expat, a foreigner, used for their own propaganda purposes, given contracts on a year-to-year basis and ready to be disposed of when they didn't want you anymore.  Already I was seeing that with a company that would immediately take away my senior physics positions and give them to some new guy.   

So in that sense, all the time spent in China just made me more and more grateful for my Canadian passport and the opportunities it brings.  While things still have a ton of problems in my home country and I don't see myself returning here in the near future, at least I'm grateful that I always *could* come back.  The welcome and smooth arrival today was bliss.  Despite having spent so long overseas, there are some things you just can't give up.  The most likely scenario at this point is relocating somewhere else or splitting my time in multiple places.  However it ends up, a Canadian passport makes it all possible.

It was of course no surprise that I saw many Chinese people on my bike ride here in Vancouver and with that was also grateful that they have the chance to immigrate.  That is essentially my job, or however long I still have it, to help assist as many of the rich Chinese to get out of that dictatorship and immigrate somewhere else (in this case Canada).  Whether or not it's the best choice that's on them.  They could always try the US or somewhere else, but whatever part I can play I'm glad to help.

The route went through the heart of Chinatown
Heart 0 Comment 0
And unfortunately this part of town too
Heart 0 Comment 0

For better or for worse, the bike ride took me also right through the heart of the worst part of the city known as the Downtown Eastside.  These images are also used for pro-CCP progapanda purposes when they say things like "Look at the decrepit state of the inner cities in these so-called first world countries and how our glorious political system takes care of people and our new modern socialist cities would hever have these kind of problems"

While you can criticize, as the CCP loves to do, there are also things you can do to help.  There are no shortages of projects or organizations to get involved with.  They won't immediately solve any of these social problems.  Sadly in 10 years later or whatnot the overall situation on the Downtown Eastside will probably be the same or even worse.  But it's not the point to try and solve everything in a short time.  The tiny small things you can do to help one person's life better or a small group of people incrementally is what is possible.  With that in mind, I had earmarked some funds on my budget.  One of the goals of this trip is to contact some of these organizations and give financially.

While riding the bike and seeing just how messed up some of these people were, the thought occurred:  what if, just that one person had a life transformation, got off those drug addictions, learned some new skills and started to make a huge difference in the community?  If only one person's life could be better, than any investment would be worth it.   

It actually wasn't the point to bike through these inner city neighborhoods for the sake of it, the route put me there and I needed to drop off some of my luggage.  That was done for the next day and the load lightened a ton.  I then found a nearby park and took a nap for an hour or so.

Continuing on, the riding took me over some harrowing bridge and towards the North Vancouver suburban area.

Heart 0 Comment 0

I was the first one to arrive at the family gathering at my Aunt's place which was ironic since I was on the bicycle.  But eventually the others came and there was a ton of food and fun.  The same nephews that I saw in Japan were also there and we continued playing with them and others joined in.  There were more nieces and nephews including some I had not met yet.  All told it was an amazing time.

Then it was time to bike back across the harrowing bridge and towards my Airbnb to finally check in and crash for the night.

Looking out at Vancouver, it is very good to be back
Heart 1 Comment 0

The Airbnb host was very friendly and yet again the topic came of what I do.  At this point it's really impossible to hide from it.  Yet once more another conversation about how the life in China is getting worse and worse and more and more expats are leaving.  This time the Airbnb host told a story about one of her friends who had been living in Beijing for over 10 years and you guessed it, heading for the door.

I told her, "You know what it's crazy, I keep on hearing more and more of this stuff.  People are saying the same things"  

She said, "Yes and it's the entire state of the world too, just look at south of the border in the US, we are living in very dangerous times."

I then said I was exhausted and ready to sleep.  I asked if there was any place nearby to do laundry but she said, "Don't worry about it, I'll do for you."

Today's ride: 42 km (26 miles)
Total: 54 km (34 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 2
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Andrea BrownVancouver is a beautiful city, I always love visiting there.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago