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Holiday, Vacation & Tour

 

The Ultimate Canadian Travel Guide To An East Coast Adventure

Making the decision to visit any one of Canada’s beautiful provinces or territories is easy, especially if you decide to spend your time on the East Coast. Canada’s East Coast is made up of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and precious Prince Edward Island which exudes island hospitality and charm.

Your trip will be packed full of exciting activities when visiting any number of the East Coast festivals, cultural events, heritage sites as well as a ton of indoor ...

Beach Holiday, Vacation & Tour, PEI, Prince Edward Island

Making the decision to visit any one of Canada’s beautiful provinces or territories is easy, especially if you decide to spend your time on the East Coast. Canada’s East Coast is made up of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and precious Prince Edward Island which exudes island hospitality and charm.

Your trip will be packed full of exciting activities when visiting any number of the East Coast festivals, cultural events, heritage sites as well as a ton of indoor and outdoor attractions. There is definitely no shortage of things to do on the East Coast. When visiting here is a list of the top 5 things you must see and do.

When in Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park is a must see. Either for a day trip or for a week long camping trip, Gros Morne National Park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987. You can hike through mountains, camp by the sea, visit freshwater fjords, waterfalls, and sandy beaches. As an area with vast natural beauty and a variety of scenery, wildlife and recreational activities, there are a million and one things to do.

The next stop on your east coast Holiday, Vacation & Tour has to be beautiful New Brunswick. If you are searching for some indoor activities your next stop is the traditional farmers market in St. John – this market offers patrons the best New Brunswick has to offer in terms of fresh food, produce, meats and seafood. The St. John City Market also hosts the maritime craft show and offers hundreds of hand crafted items for you to enjoy. It’s a wonderful place to visit and stop in for a bite.

If outdoor adventure is more your speed visiting the Fundy Trail in St. Martin’s New Brunswick will be most enjoyable! The Fundy Trail is an area of true importance as it is a sensitive ecological area, previously inaccessible to people. Untouched coastal areas with unmatched beauty and eco-diversity offer its visitors the opportunity to hike, bike or drive through portions of the park to take in the view.

When in Nova Scotia shellfish is the dish dejour, particularly if you enjoy Lobster! Nova Scotia offers lobster tours for sea lovers of all ages. Tours are a great way to become familiar with the fishing methods used to catch these delicious creatures as well as to learn about the marine habitat of the many sea creatures that frequent the waters off Nova Scotia. A day on the water will reveal whales, seals, dolphins, seabirds, porpoises and other exciting species.

The final stop on your east coast adventure must be Prince Edward Island, the gentle Island. Offering annual cultural and artistic events, numerous sights and attractions, PEI is fun for the whole family. You can learn to deep sea fish, do some afternoon birding, or golf on one of over 30 island golf courses . Be sure to visit Prince Edward Islands' beautiful lighthouses, the home of Anne of Green Gables, and historic Province House, the Birthplace of Canada. Or if the idea of putting your feet up on one of PEI’s beautiful red sand beaches is more your speed, the gentle island has many places for you. Surrounded by the sound of waves coming ashore, birds flying overhead and nothing but peace and quite, this are definitely the place for you. Rejuvenate your spirit, Love Prince Edward Island!

 

Hello From Calgary - Exploring The Kensington Area And Meeting Kevin Nguyen

This morning after our lovely celebrity breakfast, Nigel and I decided to walk along 4th Street all the way downtown. At 7th Avenue we split up and he went to pick up our rental car. I decided to take the C-train, a light rapid rail system part of Calgary Transit.

Right off the bat I had two really strange experiences: I politely approached a very nicely dressed woman to ask her how to get to Kensington. She responded curtly "2 stops" and then she started running away from...

Canada, Calgary, food, Kesingting, Vietnamese, cousine, Indochine, bistro

This morning after our lovely celebrity breakfast, Nigel and I decided to walk along 4th Street all the way downtown. At 7th Avenue we split up and he went to pick up our rental car. I decided to take the C-train, a light rapid rail system part of Calgary Transit.

Right off the bat I had two really strange experiences: I politely approached a very nicely dressed woman to ask her how to get to Kensington. She responded curtly "2 stops" and then she started running away from me. She ran down the elevated platform back in the direction she had come from and stopped several times to look over her shoulder back at me to see if I was following her. I knew it was a bad hair day today, but I didn't realize I looked that scary......

Then, right after, an older Asian-looking man came up to me and told me “I am looking for a woman, I don’t have a wife”. I told him that I wouldn’t be able to help him in that department. He was very short and not threatening-looking at all, and he really seemed to be desperate for some female company. I wasn't at all scared, but rather bewildered, somewhat bemused and almost sympathetic to his plight. He then proceeded to ask me a few more questions about whether I was married and where my husband was. At that point he realized he wasn't getting anywhere with me. Then a young rather dishevelled-looking woman came up on the platform and he tried his luck with her, settling in comfortably in the transit shelter beside her.

I stood there, puzzled, after two really strange encounters: one nicely dressed woman runs away from me (I must have looked really scary), and right afterswards an older man solicits my company (I guess I must have looked good enough to him....). Every urban centre has its interesting characters and experiences, and Calgary is obviously no exception.

Then one young couple restored my faith in humanity. I took all my courage together and asked them too how to get to the Kensington Area on the C-Train. They explained that sometimes 7th Street can be a little gritty and then took me to the automated ticket machine and showed me how to obtain my $2.25 admission onto the C-train to get over to Kensington. The world was sane again....

I was in the mood for a light lunch and right in the heart of Kensington there is this recently opened restaurant called “Indochine Bistro”, a bistro/ lounge serving Vietnamese food. After my filling breakfast at the Twin Gables B&B I couldn't have handled a big lunch, but by this time (about 2:30 pm) I needed a little meal to tide me over to the evening, so I had a lovely vegetarian noodle soup, which was just enough after my delicious morning meal. .

Often my curiosity gets the better of me and I started talking with the owner. It didn't take me long to realize I had stumbled over a really interesting human story.

Kevin Nguyen is 31 years old and was born in Saigon / Vietnam (today’s Ho Chi Minh City). He grew up in a well-to-do middle class family and lived a very good life until he was 12 years old. Then his family had to flee the country due to Vietnam’s political problems.

His mother, his sister and Kevin became “”Vietnamese boat people” and spent about 2 years living in a refugee camp in Malaysia. Kevin describes the living conditions as incredibly difficult, hundreds of people were squeezed into long buildings that were subdivided into different sections that each held many families. In addition to the cramped conditions, there was never enough food and Kevin’s aunts and uncles kept sending money from Canada to help. Kevin summarized his experience as “living in very poor conditions, but there was also a lot of love and humanity”.

Originally Kevin’s family wanted to move to the United States. But because they had family members in Canada and Great Britain, that would have meant that these two countries would have had to reject their refugee status application first before they would be able to apply to go to the USA. Kevin’s mom decided that the wait would be too long and applied to go to Canada instead.

At 14 years of age Kevin came to Canada, more specifically to Calgary and his family settled in. Kevin said that to this day he is very grateful that this country took him, his mom and his sister in. Upon his arrival in Canada, Kevin went straight into Grade 10 at Western Canada High School in Calgary and said that he never really experienced rejection from his class mates as a newly arrived refugee. He did say that he went through a major experience of culture shock adjusting to Canadian culture, food and traditions.

After high school he went to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and studied electronics and petroleum engineering and graduated with a Bachelor of Petroleum Technology. He worked for several oil and gas companies and consulting firms in Calgary before he decided to partner up with a friend to open a restaurant.

Although that business venture did not work out, Kevin was hooked on the hospitality industry. Despite the fact that there is a significant amount of risk involved in running your own restaurant, he enjoys being his own boss. He opened his own restaurant, Indochine Bistro, in October of 2005 and he intended it to be different from the usual Vietnamese restaurants that resemble cafeterias more than comfortable eateries. The name of his restaurant is from the French word Ïndochine which used to be the French name for Vietnam.

Kevin enjoys owning a restaurant and said he loves meeting people. In particular he loves working behind the bar and calls it a dream job. Kevin explained that the Kensington area is a great neighbourhood for his restaurant since there are so many people taking a stroll and it’s a really close-knit neighbourhood with the feel of a real village. In the summer there are many street festivals so there is lots of action going on.

Indochine Bistro features an extensive menu with 73 items of quality Vietnamese cuisine. Eating out at Indochine is extremely affordable: only one item was over C$10.00 and most of the dishes cost between C$6 and C$8.

I enjoyed my little exploration of Calgary’s Kensington area, it definitely had a very cozy, village-like feel to it. And it was great meeting a young Calgarian who has made an amazing life transition from living a comfortable middle class life in Vietnam to becoming a refugee to making his mark as a successful young entrepreneur in Canada.

 

Interview Preview: Bruce Poon Tip - Global Adventure Travel Entrepreneur With A Conscience

Yesterday I had a chance to meet Bruce Poon Tip, owner and CEO of G.A.P Adventures, one of Canada's most successful travel entrepreneurs. You may wonder, what is he like? Bruce is the owner of Canada's largest adventure travel company, an attractive man of about 37 years of age, dressed in casual attire and not afraid to speak off the cuff. Certainly a charismatic personality who was able to captivate last night's capacity crowd at the G.A.P. concept store in Toronto's Annex ...

Traveller, entrepreneur, travel, adventures, agency

Yesterday I had a chance to meet Bruce Poon Tip, owner and CEO of G.A.P Adventures, one of Canada's most successful travel entrepreneurs. You may wonder, what is he like? Bruce is the owner of Canada's largest adventure travel company, an attractive man of about 37 years of age, dressed in casual attire and not afraid to speak off the cuff. Certainly a charismatic personality who was able to captivate last night's capacity crowd at the G.A.P. concept store in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood.

In 1990 Bruce went on an organized backpacking trip to Thailand where he had a chance to explore the people and the country on $10.00 a day. This experience gave him the idea to create G.A.P Adventures, today Canada's largest adventure travel company that now sells thousands of different trips and annually sends 40,000 passengers on their own small-group adventures. G.A.P has about 300 employees today, headquartered in Toronto, with operational offices in various countries of Latin America. It's most recent endeavors are the G.A.P concept stores which have recently been opened in high-traffic areas in Toronto and Vancouver, places where travellers can research their adventure trip, get more information about their desired destination and book their once-in-a-lifetime experience supported by good advice with no sales pressure.

For his entrepreneurial savvy Bruce has won numerous awards, besides receiving an award as one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40, Bruce has been also been honored as one of Canada's top 5 entrepreneurs by Canadian Business as well as Canada's 100 leaders of tomorrow. Profit Magazine named him in their 20th anniversary issue cover story as one of Canada's Top 10 Entrepreneurs of the last 20 years. Bruce also received the Global Traders Leadership award from the government for his ground breaking ideas in exporting services.

Recently Bruce was asked by the World Bank and UNESCO to represent a team to visit the Peoples Republic Of China to lecture on Sustainable Development. In January of 2002 Bruce was the only Canadian operator invited to speak at the United Nations Launch of the Year Of Eco Tourism in New York. Bruce defied the odds once again last year by winning Canada's prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year, as well as the National Citation for Entrepreneurship.

G.A.P's additional awards include having two trips chosen among the TOP 25 Adventures in the World by National Geographic Adventure magazine, the Ethics in Action Award, the Global Traders Award and the Clean Air Commute Award for five straight years.

Although a consummate business man, Bruce Poon Tip has a conscience and he has founded his entire enterprise on the concept of sustainability and established travel practices that show consideration of natural surroundings and local cultures. By limiting the travel group size to 12 people, by taking local transportation and staying in small, locally owned hotels and guesthouses, G.A.P travelers are able to minimize their footprint in foreign communities and get maximum exposure to local culture.

Planeterra is a non-profit organization founded by G.A.P to give back. Today Planeterra raises funds for a number of community projects, international charities and an endowment fund to ensure long-term support of community development and conservation projects for years to come. Some of the community projects that G.A.P sponsors through donations include a community school in Ecuador, a foundation in Honduras to help women start their own businesses, an NGO in Costa Rica for environmental and wildlife conservation projects, a local battery recycling project in Chile, a drop-in center for street children in Cuczo, Peru, and many more. G.A.P Adventures itself also initiated a Women's Weaving Project in Peru that taught local women ancient weaving techniques as well as natural fabric dye processes. Today all G.A.P travel groups visiting the Sacred Valley in Peru have a chance to see and purchase high quality textiles produced by these weavers, all sold at fair trade prices.

As another example of the innovativeness of his company, Bruce shared with us the story of how he went out to purchase the "Explorer", the world's first purpose-built expedition cruise ship. In March of 2004 Bruce went on an expedition cruise through the Antarctic and fell in love with the experience. He figured he need to buy his own expedition cruise ship and started looking for suitable vessels. In April of 2004 he found the "Explorer", a historic expedition ship with a capacity of 112 passengers and a crew of 60 people. The ship had been docked in Genoa, Italy, for many months due to the financial problems of its owners. Just another 2 months later, but after many complications, G.A.P took possession of the ship. Only another 4 months later, after extensive restorations, the Explorer went on its inaugural journey and today offers expedition cruises to such unique places as Antarctica, the Amazon, Spitzbergen, and Greenland. (Incidentally, G.A.P. has agreed to sponsor our first Travel Story Contest and the grand prize winner of our contest will win an exciting adventure cruise on the Amazon in the Explorer - all thanks to G.A.P. Adventures.)

G.A.P's innovative business ideas don't end here. G.A.P also has a travel TV Show: Great Adventure People TV shows viewers the world – G.A.P Adventures style. The camera accompanies small groups of G.A.P Adventure travelers and follows them on unique G.A.P. adventure trips– cycling through the fascinating country of Vietnam, exploring exotic Morocco, and hiking, biking and rafting through captivating Spain and Italy. New episodes can be seen in Canada on CTV and will soon also be available in Great Britain on the UK Travel Channel.

G.A.P is a unique company, with a unique philosophy and a unique way of operating. I am looking forward to interviewing Bruce personally and to finding out how he is able to combine a successful high-growth adventure travel business with his dedication to social causes and sustainable travel. Stay tuned for some interesting insights into a brilliant entrepreneurial mind....

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