We’ve been quiet on the old blog front recently as Nick has been ill, we’ve been moving into our new flat and just not doing very many ‘fun’ things. Plus we’ve not had internet in our new flat for a few days due to the Easter break (great timing). I’m only able to post this by tethering with my phone.
Tuesday we went down to the ICBC to get our British driving licenses exchanged for Canadian ones, an exciting moment! It was just a case of giving them our licenses, doing an eye test, being asked what our weight and height was (eh?) and some basic questions about rules of the road. Well Nick got asked them, I just got asked ‘You probably won’t know this, but do you have any idea what the flashing green light means on traffic lights?’ I got it wrong, and still can’t remember the answer. As for the picture they took, horrendous!!!! It is without a doubt the worst photo ever taken of me. Nick wasn’t too chuffed with his either. And we’ll have to use that for ID when we go out now, great!!
The same day we went to the bank to open new accounts. The first one we went into had a little bit of a queue, and when we eventually got served the guy told us to go to another branch as it was ‘like a zoo’ in there. A slight over-reaction as there can’t have been any more than 5 people in the queue, plus one chihuahua in a pink jumper. All dogs in Vancouver seem to be dressed for winter, never mind the fact that they have fur!! Anyway, we went off to another branch of Coast Capital and got served by the most helpful guy, we even wrote in about him to say thanks for his help. We should have our shiny new cards next week, which means we can finally have money over here. We’ve been having to withdraw cash from our UK bank accounts, god knows what kind of crap exchange rate we’ve been getting!
The next day was a bit of a washout as we were supposed to go the gun range in the afternoon and meet our new landlord in the evening to sign the tenancy agreement. But we underestimated how long it would take us to get to the gun range and halfway there we decided to turn back!
A bit disappointing, but we didn’t want to be late for our new landlord. Bizarrely, he gave us the keys to the flat there and then and said we could move in early, even though our lease doesn’t officially start until the 1st of April. We were over the moon, as it meant we could finally leave the room we were staying in at Hotel Chau or ‘Castle Alan’ as I’d started calling it.
Friday we moved out of Castle Alan, and it was a bit of a nightmare, as we had opened all of our suitcases when we moved in, which meant that our vacuum sealed bags were not so vacuum sealed any more! We had to do it in two trips, which didn’t take long, but it was a pain obviously. When we eventually left Castle Alan we dropped the keys through the mailbox as instructed but realised we’d done it before locking the door. Doh! We rang the bell and after a commotion, the lady who kept saying ‘Alan’ when we moved in appeared at the balcony above and just said ‘Ahohhh!’, Nick explained that we needed someone to come down and lock the door behind us but she didn’t speak a word of English. Another commotion and a boy appeared who spoke perfect English. Why he wasn’t sent out first I’ll never know.
Castle Alan was good for us as it was a self contained room, and was a better option at the time than a hostel. And to be fair, we were left to it the entire time. The amount of stuff in there that was nicked from places was hilarious though. Plus the bed, although so comfy and massive, was randomly balancing on…I don’t even know how to explain it…have a look for yourself.
The area had a completely different feel to Downtown though. It was right next to Chinatown, and we did stick out. So much so that we were stared at wherever we went. We’ve never felt so far from home.
But anyway, we moved into our new flat and were very excited as it is pretty nice. Or so we thought at first. But I’ll get onto that in a minute. We went down to Costco (which is below our building), got registered and bought a toaster, kettle and other bits and bobs. We unpacked, made dinner (our first home-cooked meal since we left the UK), and went to bed. That’s when the problems started. We discovered that the ‘double bed’ was in fact a futon. Not even a comfy one. We had crap pillows (the landlord’s), the mattress wasn’t even a proper mattress – it felt like the hardest, flattest sofa in the world, it was hot, and to top it all, some girls in the next apartment block decided to have a party at 5:30am. One of the worst sleeps in my entire life. After waking up for about 2 hours during the night we (somehow) managed to get back to sleep for a few hours.
The next morning we discovered that the shower head is, to put it bluntly, f**ked. The water just trickles out of it. We got ready and went out to Ikea in Coquitlam, which is a 45 minute journey from Downtown. We spent $169 on a mattress topper for the bed and various other things. We must have looked hilarious on the way back home, me with two big blue Ikea bags full of stuff, and Nick with the mattress rolled up, balancing it on his shoulder. The mattress topper feels comfy, but we’ve not tried it yet, so watch this space.
We had a lovely meal and we were having a really nice evening when the sink decided to pack in. No I’m not joking. The sink and waste disposal unit became blocked and started churning out orange water that smelt like sick. So we took it apart at the bottom to try and unblock it. Big mistake. Whatever had been blocking it exploded out of the pipe and onto us and the floor. It stank to high heaven and we just stared at it in disbelief. I just wanted to cry and come home. If it wasn’t 10pm on a Saturday we would have phoned the Landlord and got him to sort it but we had to clean it all up. The sink is still blocked now, but we are going to try and get it fixed tomorrow.
As you might have guessed, we aren’t feeling too great right now. Aside from all the things wrong with the flat, we are feeling really homesick, and would love to be back in our flat in Tunbridge Wells now. I am feeling tearful even thinking about it. But I know it’s just because everything is going a bit wrong with the flat, plus we’ve not done anything fun for a while. Hopefully Nick will feel better soon, we can get the flat sorted and get out and explore the city again!