Monday, December 25, 2006

Vancouver International Airport

I got a small taste of the cold weather as I crossed the bridge. There were people checking our passports immediately upon exiting the plane. After this was what seemed like a long walk to the immigration area. I just stood around for quite a while, wondering where I should go or what I should do, this being my first time to have to pass through immigration as an adult. I noticed everyone heading for some counters so I followed. Again, lines were nearly non-existent, presumably because it was Christmas. So I approached this counter and the lady asked for my documents. I asked her if I should get my check-in baggage first. Probably because she realized this was my point of entry, she told me to go on through, get my things, and go into the enclosed new immigrants area. I found my 2 boxes in our flight's assigned conveyor belt and their condition seemed to be worsening. I was hesitant to just leave them outside the new immigrants area knowing how it is in the Philippines, but I did anyway.

Inside the new area, I didn't know where to go. Thankfully, this man at a counter signaled me to come over. He looked over my papers and gave me a number. There were probably around 5 groups before me, mostly families. A lot of them were obviously Filipino. There was even this one group who numbered about 10. There was currently one lady handling everyone. She looked to be from India, but probably grew up in or has spent many years in Canada. I suppose this was my first exposure to the diversity in Canada, having non-Caucasian individuals handling such a position. She was soon joined by a male Caucasian co-worker. What they seemed to be doing was checking the Confirmation of Permanent Residence form and Passport, then asking various questions confirming the information they have. The lady even scolded a couple because the husband seemed to be coaching his wife in giving answers. I don't know how long it took for my number to be called, but I didn't really feel bored for some reason.

So now, it was my turn. I ended up with the lady immigration official. I was a bit nervous now because I remember her scolding the couple, while the other official was joking around with people he was handling. To be fair, she was quite friendly with everyone else except that couple. So she started asking questions like, what my name is, my wife's name, if I've attempted to enter Canada before, mailing address. She then asked me to sign on a paper, then stapled my finished CPR unto my passport, telling me that this would be my ID while I wait for my Permanent Resident Card. She also gave me a list of Immigrant serving organizations and an article on job-hunting. She saw the list of items I brought and just told me to hand it over if an immigration official asked for it. And I was done. I headed out, got my things (They were still there, cool), and came upon Air Canada's counter where I could check-in my boxes. I exited through a door but decided to go back to find the flight schedules. I wasn't allowed to go back though. Anyway, I was pointed to where I should go for the schedules. I guess I'm officially in Canada.

I looked around a bit but went straight for the money changing area. The guy at the counter even advised me to exchange more since banks would be closed the next day or something. Anyway I felt I might need the money. I went up the escalator, passed by a few shops and found the schedules. I noticed they were for international flights and I remembered that I was going on a domestic flight next. Thankfully I noticed signs that pointed the way to the domestic area. I decided to go there immediately since I had to kill time anyway. I could just go back if there was nothing to do there. After another seemingly long walk, I was at the domestic area.

I look around and I find that there are still lots of shops and restaurants here. I wander around for a bit just so I'll know my way around. I notice some self-service machines where travelers can check-in or something. Not really sure though. I spot some Telus payphones then realize that I need to find myself a phone card. I ask a lady at information where I could get one and she tells me there are dispensers around the place but wasn't sure where exactly. Thankfully I found one and got myself a $20 card.

So I call my wife Mean again. It was around early afternoon in Winnipeg. I tell her about the flight and my stay in Vancouver so far. There was some mush, of course, but you won't see it here. We talked for a long time and I realize that the $20 card was a bit overkill since I barely made a dent on it. I now realized that my initial thoughts of my being sad upon leaving the Philippines and getting happier as I got closer to Winnipeg was indeed true. In a few hours, the period of our lives where Yahoo messenger and Skype were our main modes of communication will totally end.

I now look for another money changer since Mean advised me to change my Hong Kong dollars. So I find one with a Chinese looking teller. I ask for all my Hong Kong dollars to be changed. After handing me the Canadian dollars, she asked me something in Chinese. I smiled and said I didn't understand. So another person mistakes me for a Chinese. I could assume that it's because I changed Hong Kong dollars though.

Now I look for somewhere to eat. It was a food court so I checked if there were free tables. There weren't any at the moment. So I check out the restos one-by-one. I remember a Starbucks, Subway, a coffee shop called Tim Horton's (line was long in this one) and A&W. There were also a couple of Asian restaurants. I pick A&W. Fortunately a seat at their area freed up. It's quite interesting that they don't have root beer float. That was probably A&W Philippines' main selling point. I got myself a Mozza burger meal with onion rings. The onion rings were huge but I got sick of it after a while. Probably because I didn't use ketchup. Burger was ok, and the drink was big as expected.

There's a little more than an hour before boarding time. Time to head to the boarding area. Very soon now...

Vancouver International Airport:
Official site
from Wikipedia

City of Vancouver
from Wikipedia

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