A Day In Hongcouver Where Locals Are Extras
Vancouver is one of those faraway places which has a special ring for an Austrian like me. Being situated almost on the other side of the world, it has long been in my mind synonymous with a place very distant and different from home — and thus potentially interesting to visit. Over time my curiosity was further raised by the vivid accounts of school-mates who had travelled and even migrated there. Much of what they said sounded charming, so I was happy to be eventually able to relate their experiences with what I saw with my own eyes.
But there was also the Sinocouver I have been reading about lately. An Asian bridgehead where the locals are priced out of the market by soft-colonial methods, a city which is selling out its soul to globalism and multiculturalism. Being a tourist who is generally interested in the distinctiveness of places and peoples I have come to dislike the random and replaceable character of ‘diverse’ cities. You see one of them, you’ve seen them all — like an airport lounge.
Still, I was excited when my Greyhound bus descended from the mountainous interior of British Columbia into Fraser Valley. This is the story of my recent 24 h trip to Van, seen through the eyes of a European traveller on the look-out for Canada.
Fraser Valley And The Mountainous Hinterland
The afternoon sun was shining warmly through the bus windows on my face when I finally decided to give it up and let it go. Two hours of online search on the wacky bus wifi for a place to stay in Vancouver had yielded nothing. I had been warned that getting a budget accommodation on short notice would be a challenge, but finding literally nothing in the after-season — that came unexpected. It was Saturday and the hostels seemed to be booked out by scores of weekend visitors. Mentally, I flipped the switch to survival mode. There was no way I was going to miss a Saturday night in downtown. In the worst case, I would simply make a night of it. In Burnaby or Richmond, this much I knew, I didn’t want to spend the night.
Up to Abbotsford I found Fraser Valley to be rather sparsely populated, almost bucolic. As the valley lay peacefully under the sun, it struck me as a true beauty. With the mountain ridges rising majestically to both sides, it seemed as wide as the largest High Alps valleys I have seen. Yet, as elsewhere in BC, their flanks were practically devoid of any trace of farming or transhumance. Without any sign of pastures and cabins the dense forests covered the slopes in monotonous grandeur as far as the eye could see. Unlike the more populated regions of the Alps which have been (and still are) cultivated extensively up to the treeline, human settlement in the Canadian mountains is limited to the valley bottom as if a magic spell forbids expanding beyond it.