We left Whistler for Toronto after my sixth ski class. This side trip was planned before we left Hong Kong and the object was to meet people I haven’t seen for a long time and to introduce them to Su. I have lined up meetings with friends and my younger sister so that there would be little time if at all for sightseeing or other activities. Indeed, we were never at Downtown Toronto. We went from restaurants to restaurants, meeting different groups of people, but we managed to do some shopping in between. Interestingly, we managed to watch many episodes of the hottest period drama sitcom currently showing in China – an activity on which we would probably have great problems finding time if we are in Hong Kong – but that would be another story.
I tried to recall the last time I visited Toronto and I almost got it wrong had I not written a letter after that visit, on 12 June 2005 to be exact, but due to a minor technical hitch, it was recorded on my website as having been uploaded on 6 December in the same year.
As before, I stayed in Rosita’s best friend’s house. Looking back – and with the aid of the letter I wrote in 2005 – I can say that I am much better planned this time, possibly because I was travelling alone last time and had left everything to chances. It also meant that I did not meet up with a few friends I met up in 2005; I did not play golf; and I did not go to any bridge games. It was also a lot colder this time. Indeed, it snowed a lot – but not enough according to my friends in Toronto – the day we left.
I had planned to write a letter from Toronto, but somehow my net-top could only receive but not send emails, and we spent a lot of time watching the period drama I mentioned earlier.
We met classmates and friends from my high school and university days. Some of these old friends have been visiting Hong Kong more often recently, but there are others whom I have not met since we left school. One Jessie Tam, for example, emphatically told me that it was our first meeting in 43 years. Then I also met the widow of my very good friend who passed away in 2008 when I was visiting North Xinjiang. She is also my very good friend – the couple is my son’s god parents. I last met them when they came to Hong Kong around 2005 or 2006. I took the opportunity this time to visit his grave. Then there is this very dear friend from high school who passed away in 2002. His widow and son now live in Toronto and I had dinner with them. Still there were classmates who had passed away in recent years in Toronto with whom we had made arrangements to meet each other, but never did for various reasons, which is a motivation for me to make this side trip.
Let me go back slightly on this trip to Canada. We started off with Vancouver where we had dinners with friends and ex-classmates, many of whom know the people I met in Toronto, so that I became the message bearer between the two groups. These friends and ex-classmates had left Hong Kong between the 70s and mid-80s in the run up to 1997, many of them in their prime years. Each has a story to tell, which would pale the average sitcom plots we see on local television. Most of them have since brought up families and are counting their grand children.
Talking of grand children, I mentioned in an earlier letter that my children were visiting me. They did, about a week before we set out on this trip. It was the first for my daughter since Rosita passed away, the first since 2006 for my son, and the first time we all three met since April 2009, in New York, about three weeks before Su and I were married. We took the opportunity to organize family re-unions with my siblings and their children. I also had an opportunity to talk with my children face to face, which I haven’t had for quite some time. The prospect of grand children appears rather remote, to put it mildly.
The meeting with all my siblings, except the youngest sister who has left for Canada some 20 years before, was again rare since our father passed away in 2006. True, conditions are not always conducive for larger-scale gatherings, which is why I treasure and value very much such meetings in general and my recent meeting with our youngest sister and her family in Toronto in particular.
Back to Whistler which is where Su and I are at the moment, Su went straight back here after the Toronto visit, while I stayed in Vancouver for two nights to meet more friends and have more dinners. As I left Vancouver, It began to snow, which was rather rare. It had been snowing in Whistler then, and Su had a great time skiing.
Whistler actually has a lot more to offer than skiing. As a start, there are many restaurants and pubs where one routinely meets rather interesting characters. Every Sunday, the ski and snowboard instructors put out special performances in the evening including a short fireworks display. The ski lifts and gondolas are also available to tourists and the ride between the two peaks – from Whistler to Blackcomb, known as Peak-2-Peak – is the longest ride of its kind in the world.
As soon as I turned up at Whistler and before I had time to watch the Oscars live, Su signed me up for yet three more classes; meaning that I would have had nine lessons before I come back; and I would let you know how I fare in the next letter.