Lizard on a stick

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Dried lizards for sale in Vancouver’s Chinatown in 2007.

I saw these reptilian delicacies for sale in Vancouver’s Chinatown while visiting way back in 2007. Nobody believes me anytime I mention flayed lizard for sale so here it is—photographic proof! These are likely to be tokay geckos, a species used in traditional Chinese medicine for various indications, “male endurance” among them. They aren’t eaten whole—they are boiled along with various other ingredients to make a soup.

Earth stone factory

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A back alley scene just off Venables near Commercial Drive.

I encountered this scene while exploring the alleyways just off of Venables at the top of in back in the summer of 2010. At the time I had no idea what the signs said—but having learned a little Chinese in the intervening years I went and transcribed the characters. Turns out the sign reads dàdìshíchǎng 大地石廠, roughly “earth stone factory” if Google is to be trusted in these matters. I don’t recall seeing any stones around—just piles of metal shavings in the bins nearby. Well, whatever it may be, it was an interesting find in amidst a mostly residential stretch of the city.

Clear Water

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Water rushing down the Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver.

I captured this photograph from the top of the spillway at Cleveland Dam in Capilano Canyon, . Unlike many dams, this one does not generate electricity—it exists only to store drinking water for the city. What you see here is pure, clean water that has come down from the unpopulated mountains north of the city.

Finn Slough

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The eastern edge of Finn Slough.

Founded by Finnish settlers in the late 19th century, Finn Slough is a tiny fishing community located along the marshy banks of the mighty Fraser River in southern , . In the early 20th century the settlers moved the village to its current location, a slough (swamp, pronounced “slew”) at the base of the No. 4 Road on Lulu Island east of Steveston. Most—if not all—of the buildings in Finn Slough were constructed prior to 1950, lack modern plumbing, and rely on wood-burning stoves for heating.

Fan Tan Alley 23½

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A striking red doorway along Fan Tan Alley, Victoria.

Nestled deep within Victoria’s Chinatown, Fan Tan Alley 番攤里 is the narrowest street in . In its early history it was the site of gambling dens and opium houses. Nowadays it is a rather hip place with small art galleries and cafes. Even so, there’s something quite charming about its doorways, among them number 23½.

The Seeds You Sow Will Grow Up Prisoners Too

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An abandoned greenhouse in rural Richmond, B.C.

The wilderness returns to an abandoned greenhouse along the No. 6 Road in the rural flatlands of , . This was shot on the same exploratory road trip that brought me to Finn Slough and was later used in the cover artwork for The Dreamhouse Effect. Oh, and that title? A reference to The Knife’s Marble House.

Moving On From Vancouver

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Dusk settles over the Spanish Banks in Vancouver.

It is my last day in . I leave in time to see the mood of the city flip from gloomy and isolating to vibrant and alive. If it were like this all the time I might not be moving on. Fittingly, I am enjoying brunch by myself on . Later I will drop in on my favourite cafe and get some work done before heading to pho for dinner. After night falls it will be time to take my few bags to the airport and try my luck somewhere else. It is too bad I did not connect with this place as much as I had hoped… but I am happy to be taking action instead of remaining stuck here, even if I will be missing out on summertime in beautiful Vancouver. So long, B.C.!