• Travel, Movie Reviews, And More Musings

Vancouver Strangers Dine Out Together To Celebrates The Year Of The Rooster
by Staff Writer

What better way to bring in the Lunar New Year than dine out with friends, family members or even complete strangers. Heard about Meetup.com? It’s a global way where people can meet new people in a variety of social settings, such as hiking, playing scrabble, dancing, and dining.

I added my name to a few social groups and got many invites to join strangers dining out on New Year’s festivities. The menu is definitely not for vegans, so beware. But those who are meat eaters can feast on many delectables, such as Peking Duck, crispy Shanghai chicken, Rock Cod with mixed vegetables, black-pepper crab or prawn.

So if you are new in town, and one of your resolutions is to meet new friends and enjoy  the sights and sounds of Vancouver, check out meet up.com/Vancouver.

If you are shy, not to worry. There’s even a shy people’s group.

Okay. Are you ready for this? This is Wisertraveller.org‘s first annual predictions for the Year Of The Rabbit. Are you listening, Vancouver?

  • -The city of Vancouver will put a ban to plastic bags and  plastic cups. Finally. After all, the city hopes to be the greenest city and ending this wasteful item will help solve the problem of plastic ending up in the landfill and in our oceans.


  • Grizzly trophy hunting will stop in British Columbia. Yes, believe it or not, people with big bucks spend thousands of dollars to book a trip for the sole purpose of shooting a grizzly. Every year, between 300-400 grizzlies are killed by hunters who feel that shooting a grizzly gives them superiority over nature. To help stop the hunting, consider this site: https://www.change.org.


  • Spring will come early and so will be the return of Pamela Anderson, grey jogging pants, milk tea drinks.  Really?


  • The Vancouver Canucks will make it to the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup. There will also be a ticker-tape parade.


  • Über will enter the Vancouver market in a test capacity and be available during peak months, and weekends.


  • More refugees and people from all over the world will choose Vancouver to live –thanks to the new United States President-elect Donald Trump.


  • Vancouver will open it’s first high-tech restaurant. Order food on a tablet and food will be served by regular servers.


  • Vancouver will hold a Peace concert featuring the likes of Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney, The Who and many others.


  • Vancouver will open its first cat-friendly park. Why not, folks? We have dog-friendly parks.


  • 4 major Vancouver employers will pay its employees to take public transit to work.

So there you have it! Gung Hay Fat Choy! If you see these events come to fruition this year, remember that you read this here first!





January 30th


Asian Actors Discuss Barriers Still Exist for Asians At The Vancouver Asian Film Festival
by Staff Writer

Diana's grateful and angry speech at VAFF wakes up the audience.

Diana’s grateful and angry speech at VAFF wakes up the audience.


Special To Wisertraveller.org

This was definitely not your normal panel discussion about Asians working in the film industry.

Indeed, when it was time for Diana Bang’s turn to speak during a packed panel discussion, she let her anger fly –boy, she sure did in a big way. Bang, who has appeared in film and television roles in The Killing, Bates Motel, Entanglement and Master Cleanse, presented a slide show that including words like “Thank You,” and the swear word, “F#** You!”

She started off by saying how grateful she is to be working in the film industry, which brought about a “Thank You” slide. About her former acting professor who told her she wasn’t suited to work as an actor, she yelled out an expletive and showed the “F**** You, ” slide.

She continued her lively presentation, alternating from saying “Thank You” to “F**** You” when she reminisced about her encounters with facing roles that involved stereotypes: playing an Asian fortune-teller, sex worker, etc. She says she felt like a “yellow-faced puppet” and often had to choose roles that involved a Chinese accent.

Another actor, Agam Darshi echoed a similar sentiment. She explained that when she was first starting out, when no one would cast her, she wrote and produce her own films. She wrote and directed Fade Out (2014) and Bollywood Beckons (2008) which screened at numerous festivals. Despite the hardships, she is now a busy actor who advises beginning Asian actors to create their own opportunities by creating their own works.

More encouragement came from the likes of William Yu, who launched the viral online campaign, #StarringJohnCho. He wanted to show what Hollywood movies would be like if they cast actor, John Cho as their leading man. His project has lead to a whirlwind 1 billion web impressions world-wide and has opened up the debate over the lack of Asian-American representation in film.
He advised Asian creators to try to stand out and “don’t be humble.” If good fortune does arise, he tells creators to be proud of themselves and “don’t say it happened by accident.”

Kevin Li took the stand to defend his successful online creation, “Ultra Rich Asian Girls.” While he acknowledged facing criticism over the show, he stated that the young women in his show are hardworking, career-oriented, educated and definitely not rich Asian stereotypes.

The panel discussion, which featured several other people in the industry, was part of the schedule for the 20th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Nov 3-6.

If you haven’t checked out any of the films yet, there’s still a little bit of time to a catch some films and participate in a contest. Check out the website, http://www.vaff.org.

And don’t forget to catch some great Asian comedy on TV. Watch Kim’s Convenience on CBC. Diana Bang would like that. After all, her sister, Andrea Bang, plays a recurring role as the daughter in the show.


November 6th


Vancouver Folk Music Festival Thrills: Photos Capture Spirit of Brilliant Festival Featuring Artists like Bruce Cockburn, The New Pornographers, And A Global List Of Musicians
by Staff Writer

Summer’s here and that means it’s that time of year for one of Vancouver’s favorite music festival, the 39th annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival, to carry on it’s tradition of entertaining people of all ages. For 3 days, July 15 to 17, thousands of people flocked to hear and see from a eclectic list of performers who astrummed, sang and danced at various stages set up at Jericho Beach Park.

Selected photos taken during the 3 days show only a selection of the dozens of performers who entertained the largely enthusiastic festival crowd.

On Friday night, people got a sampling of hoedown music, courtesy of Mandolin Orange, Sarah Jane Scoulten, and The Bills.
On Stage 2, British performers, Lucy Ward, The Young’uns and the Moulettes faced the friendly crowd with lively music. At another stage, famous slam poet, Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long, amazed people with his enthusiasm and his powerful words.

Canadian Elage Diouf took to Stage 3 with his upbeat, rousing Senegelese-inspired music. He thrust out his hands in enthusiasm, much to the delight of the audience. (see photo below).

The schedule for Friday also saw Vancouver’s own, The New Pornographers, (below) take to the stage full of the raw power of their carefully crafted songs.

On Saturday, there were more new performers who enthralled the audience. Some artists came as far away as China. Dressed in partly traditional gear and performing traditional instruments,(see photo below) Aginai’s music was a careful blend of electric guitar meshed with hypnotic and eastern Mongolian folk music. Even if people didn’t understand the singer’s nonEnglish lyrics, it was all easy listening.

Over on Stage 6, a big, sweaty crowd danced to a group of performers, including Venezuela’s ensemble group, fronted by Betsayda Machado. (pictured). The feel-good Afro-Latin American music got people smiling, happy and dancing with enthusiasm.

The weather was mostly favorable throughout the weekend, except for Sunday, when a few showers showed up for a brief, few hours.

By the time the incomparable, Bruce Cockburn, took to the stage at 8 pm, the rain disappeared and many people who brought rain gear, doffed it off as quickly as they put it on.

Around the festival grounds, one could see a few young people dressed up in fun, festive gear. On ocassion, one could see unique sights: like a man walking with a book on his head, or an older man wearing loose-fitting clothing twirling around to the sound of the music. (see photos).

In the kids’ area, young children were busy with plenty of activities, such as going on stilts (see photo below), playing instruments, or swinging the hula hoops.





IMG_7084Left: Bruce Cockburn











If You Plan On Going To One Festival This Year Go See: The Vancouver Folk Music Festival
by Staff Writer


Photos: Left: Bruce Cockburn and Ajinai plays the Folk Fest this year. (Photo courtesy of VFMF media centre)

Are you ready to have fun? Do you have friends in town or if you are planning a staycation or have the weekend free, you must go to the world’s friendliest and hippest music festival, The Vancouver Folk Music Festival. From July 15-17, performers from all over the world will show off their talents at 7 beach front stages at Jericho Beach Park.  How many performers? Well there’s more than 60 acts from more than 18 countries.

You’ll hear music from all over the world. Here’s just a partial list of some amazing performers.

-There’s a fusion of experimental Afro-beat from Jojo Abot.

– Ajinai (China) offers up ancient sounds from Mongolia. Unknown-5

-Folk, gospel, soul music comes courtesy of Birds of Chicago.

-Desert Blues is offered by Faris Amin. (Italy, Algeria).

-Grammy awards nominee, singer-songwriter, Hayes Carll from Texas, offers up some clever, roots-oriented lyrics.

-Music legend, Bruce Cockburn, will dazzle the audience with lots of heart-felt songs from his 40-plus career as a singer-songwriter.

-Slam poetry champion, Shane Koyczan (British Columbia)  comes back to the fest, bringing along his back-up band, the Short Story Long. If you have never seen Shane perform, you are in for a treat. In fact at one live showing, one of his poems hit a nerve and tears were streaming down my face. Wow. That’s truly up close and personal.

-BC’s own, The New Pornographers takes to the stage with their creative, lively and wonderful music.

-For a taste of Algiers, catch the talented Karim Saada who will show audiences his smooth voice and his skill on many instruments, including the banjo, the mandol, and the guitar.

To get a full list of the performers and to get ticket information, go to : http://thefestival.bc.ca/2016-home/

Don’t forget to bring extra cash because you have a chance to meet some of the performers and buy their music at the festival.

Another wonderful thing about the festival is it’s laid-back atmosphere. You will meet regulars who come to the fest annually. There are even tents set up by attendees who relax before and after the concerts, and many people of all ages get up and simply dance. You may also see men and women of all ages, swing the hula hoop.

The festival is family-friendly because there’s even a childrens’ area called, “Little Folks Village.” Children can learn to make crafts, get their faces painted, and also listen to interactive story-telling.


I also like that the festival promotes green initiatives.

No bottled water is sold at the festival so people are encouraged to bring their own bottle.

Compostable cups and cutlery are provided at the site.


Below: from a previous festival, a woman shows off her hoola hoop skills.


Current Family Friendly Events
Bring the whole family to see tons of top performers and musicians. The Kitsilano Showboat has been entertaining locals and visitors for decades. On a recent visit, I attended showboat and listened to the amazing big band sounds from the Royal City Concert Band.

To see the schedule go to: http://www.kitsilanoshowboat.com


Below the Royal City Concert Band.



July 10th


Climbing Dunn’s River Falls In Jamaica Makes For A Hands-On Brotherly Experience
by Staff Writer

Special To Wisertraveller.org -reporting from Jamaica.

It’s almost like a spiritual experience climbing Dunn’s River Falls. The group of us await patiently as we await the group’s leader, a burly Jamaican who tells everyone to call him “Big Foot.” He tells the group of tourists, young and old, to mind our manners, as we will be climbing the Dunn’s Waterfalls, a magnificent natural attraction that is not to be taken for granted. In fact, he does a short prayer and crosses himself, before we gather down below to climb what clearly looks dangerous but inviting. At 180 feet and 600 feet long, the waterfalls are terraced like a staircase, which makes it a popular excursion near Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Before we begin, he tells everyone that climbing the falls would be a group effort –we would have to hold each other’s hands and pull each other up, one excruciating step after another. It’s a scary experience and for those who want to continue, they sign waivers, while the rest opt to watch the climbers along the side.

“Big Foot” tells us that it could get slippary on the rocks, hence, the reason why we are wearing water shoes. He makes everyone chant, “All for one and one for all!” Then, suddenly, he asks quickly, ” What happens if a lady falls?” Someone says outloud, “We all fall!” “Big Foot” is not happy with the answer and advises that the correct one is that we aid each other. Seeing and hearing the waterfalls, I feel my desire to climb this natural wonder fade slowly. But an older man chimes in and says even with his surgery, if he could do it, anyone could. Well almost everyone.

As we climb up the first level, I hold the man’s hand tightly in front of me. The first steps are a bit easy but as I climb more, every step gets harder and pretty soon, the actual waterfall is literally in my face! Huge torrents of water flow quickly past my face and I am told not to stare at it. But it is tortuous and I moan and groan in fear. Finally, we have passed the major waterfall, but I am spent and I seem only to have completed 25 percent of the falls. I walk towards one of the exit signs and seem comfortable taking pictures.

As these photos show, the climbers go up the falls, passing through various levels and during the adventure, the guides take videos and photos to sell to the tourists later. There are opportunities for some great photo ops –which happens when the guide tells the climbers to fall back into the water –a refreshing and a memorable dip! If you climb with the group, it will take 1 to 1.5 hours with short breaks for photos and a dip in the small pools that surround the waterfall.

If you go, be prepared to get wet! Wear a swim suit and take water shoes. It’s quite a tiring hike but the experience will last a lifetime. For those who choose to watch from the sidelines, that’s ok, too. You’ll have photographs to admire for years from now.



































































































May 30th

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