Sunday, 15 June 2014

Tranquil Wilderness in the City - Tommy Thomson Park

We had an unexpectedly interesting day today walking the Leslie Street spit in the guise of Tommy Thomson Park.  We had expected a walk on flat land with no shade in the blazing sun where we would get our exercise then go and stuff ourselves at a nearby restaurant at lunch.  But it turned out to be an eye-opener giving us a glimpse of the wild life that is accessible to us even in the City.

It started off with a tranquil Sunday morning walk by the waterfront, watching the few sail boats drifting by.  Then all of a sudden, we saw a flock of cormorants flying in formation above us - it looked like they were heading out to the lake for lunch!  One flock came after another with a distinctive V shape at the head of the flock.  They flew low on the lake - guess that's how they caught fish - but I can imagine it must be pretty unnerving to be in the sailboats and have them circling above your head or beside your boat.  This continued for the length of our visit to the park which was over five or six hours as we went back after lunch, being so fascinated by this piece of wilderness in the City.  An article in the Star spoke to the damage these cormorants were doing to the spit.

On our afternoon walk, we ventured further out onto the spit and saw this family of trumpet swans in the marshland in the middle of the spit.  Kudos to the father especially on this Father's Day - he was very aggressive in guarding his family.  No one was allowed to set foot anywhere close to the edge of the pond and he was quite loud and insistent in his warnings.  Then all of a sudden, two Canada geese flew into the pond - they seemed to have a nest in the middle of it.  The two swans took off very quickly like fighter jets responding to an attack - they chased after the goose all the while loudly trumpeting and only came back after they felt they had suitably intimidated the goose.  I was surprised and worried that they had left the six little cygnets undefended!  But it was quite a sight to see this action taking place in nature right in front of us - not to mention I have never seen a swan in flight!  That little episode truly made our day!

Then there was the nice little surprise of a spectacular view of the Toronto skyline from the spit!  I was exhausted at the end of the "leisurely walk" but it was definitely worth it!

A tranquil Sunday morning walk by the lake, enjoying the spring flowers 

A man enjoying the serene seascape - although you can see the cormorants starting to come in on the right - they don't make any noise

Cormorants hovering around the boat and above it...

They're finished lunch - heading back to the spit

The different formations of the flocks were like sky painting

The Toronto skyline from the western edge of the spit

Trumpet swan family

Mom and dad taking off like fighter jets

CIrcling and landing after warding off the Canada goose

Still trumpeting from leftover adrenalin...

Spectacular Toronto Skyline from the tip of the spit - Sky Dome is visible from this angle with the Toronto Islands in between

Some new dumps along the end - they are still filling in the land here on weekdays 

The lighthouse at the end of the spit

Where else would you see a sign like this!
And this is what happened when you don't brake!

Tommy Thomson Park - Great place for a bike ride - or a walk...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Hoi An Streetscape

My enduring memories of Hoi An is of a very colourful yet serene and peaceful place.  There were no crowds to push past or traffic that threatened your life.  It seemed a very laid back place compared to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.  No wonder people are looking at retiring here - fresh air, fresh food, friendly people - what's not to like about it.  And lots of good places to eat as we found out on our Hoi An Food Tour (blog post coming up). 

Pre-wedding photo sessions were very popular on the streets of Hoi An  

Wide avenues outside of the Old Town

The river is an important thoroughfare

Bike Ferry

Enjoying the social life

Huge market

Choice of fresh-made noodles - hand-made on the premises! 

Gigantic goose eggs

Fresh fish from the sea

Lanterns, lanterns, and more lanterns...

Hand-made on the premises!

Imitation food - looks delicious!

Real food - made in an artisanal shop in a back alley 

Potato Pancakes drying in the sun

Age is no barrier - both these ladies were over a hundred years old and still going strong!

Birds galore!  People have time to listen to the birds!

Time to go home - but not before stopping by one of the many tailors in town.  Hoi An is famous for its tailors - they were not only good, they were fast!  A man's suit done in a day, perfectly tailored at a quarter of the price you'd pay in North America.

Shutting down for the night - the old-fashioned way...