Sunday, 30 May 2010

Food Shopping

Mp3 track of the day - What a difference a day made - Jamie Cullumn

Weather: Snow to begin with then turning dry and slightly warm

After blogging last night (around midnight) I went to bed, only to be greeted with the worlds loudest snorer. It was an Asian chap and I've never herd anything like it in my life; even going into the en-suite bathroom you could still hear it. At one point in the night everyone was up because none of us could sleep, it was terrible. As morning broke I had planned to wake up around 10am; however I had enough a 7:15am, having only got around 3/4 hrs sleep. I was not in the best of moods and even resorted, for some kind of come back, to put the room light on which was situated right above this chaps head ... but he didn't wake.

There was another guy in the room and he had this machine which he had to wear when he slept; apparently when he sleeps his body could forget to breath and therefore, he could die ... I think I'll forgive him regarding the noise off that machine. Any he was telling me that this Asian bloke could have a similar problem to himself and not dealing with it he could end up dead (might be sooner than he thinks at this rate).

So after a nice cheery morning my first port of call was to ask the receptionist when this Asian bloke was moving out, or could I be moved into another dorm as I couldn't have another night like that. I didn't even get to ask the full question as the receptionist worked out my complaint as she has had similar complaints earlier. Luckily the guy was moving out today (hopefully not to Jasper).

So, as I was in a seriously annoyed mood, I decided to head out for breakfast and then onto two buildings, which I had seen on my way into Edmonton, to photograph them. Edmonton isn't a very nice city, it's buildings are made of concrete and Calgary is so much better looking (and more compact). It was still snowing a little and so I had to be quick with my photographs; one of these buildings required me to head down a long flight of stairs to 'downtown' when, halfway down the stairs I saw a few bunch of flowers, some rocks and a note.

It's always sad to the flowers left where someone had died; I wondered if it was an old person who had died suddenly due to the huge amount of stairs, or someone who had tripped and fell or possibly a suicide ... either way it's all very sad. I stopped for a minute to read the message:

Name of person

"... murdered on this very stair case. Date: 17th May 2010..."

Now I have to be honest; sympathy soon got taken over be sheer panic. 17th May ... that was only two weeks ago. Was it at night or in the day??? How, why ... those pictures of jeeps with Somalians with RPG's and machine guns came flooding back. I decided to take my photo quickly and, after spending 47 seconds in downtown decided to head back up ... I think that was enough time within this area and I had to head onto the main attraction, the West Edmonton Mall.

Now my guidebook said that the shopping centre opened, on a Sunday, at 12 noon (hence why I was planning to sleep until 10am) whereas the hostel said it opened at 10am. It was 9:15am and I decided to head their anyway ... I could look around the outside of the complex for a while if needed.

Actually it took over an hour to arrive (and I was falling asleep on the bus) at the shopping centre due to, guess what, another marathon taking place in another city I have visited (what is it with me and marathons?). Once inside I decided that both the hostel and my guidebook were correct; the centre did open at 10am, however most shops opened at 12 noon. I took a map and decided to just walk around the whole thing (best time to come to a shopping centre when all the shops are shut). Now not many people know this but West Edmonton Mall is quite special as my guidebook explains...

"...'Your adventure awaits' announces the brochure to West Edmonton Mall, preparing you for place that has had eleven mentions in the Guinness Book of World Records, including its main claim to fame as the largest shopping mall in the world. Built at a total cost of £1.2 billion, the complex extends over the equivalent of 115 American football fields (or 48 city blocks) and boasts more than 800 shops - of which some 110 are restaurants - plus 21 cinemas and eleven department stores. There's almost a queue of superlatives. It's car park is the worlds largest, with room for 20,000 cars; it has the worlds largest water park (fifty million liters of water); it uses enough power to run a town of 50,000 people. The mall's effect on Edmonton has been double-edged; it employs 15,000 people but has captured thirty percent of the city's retail business, thus crippling the downtown shopping are, though it has also succeeded, to every ones surprise, in attracting twenty million visitors a year (that's 55,000 a day).

Funnily enough many of the shops are rather downmarket, though the sheer size of the place is enough to keep you browsing all day. But its size aside it's the clutch of extra attractions that make the mall unique. These include the worlds largest indoor lake (122m long) as part of a cluster of attractions known as Deep Sea Adventure that contains a full-sized replica of Columbus' Santa Maria and some 200 different species of marine life. Other distractions here include sea lion shows, an underwater aquarium laced with the inevitable sharks.

Then there is Galxyland, the words largest indoor amusement park which features such attractions as the Drop of Doom, a thirteen-storey 'free-fall experience and the fourteen storey Mindbender triple-loop roller coaster. The latter, it comes as no surprise to learn, is the worlds largest indoor roller coaster. The World Waterpark, by contrast, is a superb collection of vast swimming pools, immense water slides and wave pools. If you still have any energy, you can also ice-skate on the National Hockey League-sized skating rink. You could round off the day or indulge yourself further in one of the mall's many cinemas, the Ice Palace, Sea Life Caverns, Professor Wem's Golf Adventure or a variety of clubs.

If you want to go the whole hog, spend the night in the 354-room Fantastyland Hotel where 118 rooms are intricately equipped and decorated to fulfil various assorted fantasies: Roman, Hollywood, Arabian, Victorian Coach, African, Igloo, Canadian Rail and, most intriguing of all, Truck..."

So, as you can see, lots to see. The positives of the place was that it was nice to see the attractions; I managed to get to see a Sea Lion show (from the second floor so it was free) and I went into the IMAX cinema where they had a huge sized Batman, Yoda and a dragon that breathed real fire (too close for comfort actually). It was also pleasant just to wonder around and I saw people on the ice skating rink (some were very good). Finally, for lunch, I had decided on pizza as I'm trying to change my meals regularly (last night I had steak, before that Chinese ... which wasn't very good ..., before that pasta, before that nothing as I was travelling and before that fish); however the pizza prices were high (one slice, which were big, $5.50 ... I reckon I would need two) and so I went to a Chinese take away which seemed very popular. I was glad I did this as the Chinese was superb and I was really, really full.

The bad bits about the shopping centre is that it doesn't actually feel that big ... it only took a couple of hours to go round it all and it only had two floors (Meadow Hall seems bigger). Also inside the shopping centre the decor is very dated, making the 2nd floor of Westfield look like something very futuristic. The lack of glass, allowing natural light in, can make it seem a bit dingy and on the whole I prefer the ambiance of the Westfield Centre back home. The outside is much, much worse and just looks like a concrete box ... very ugly indeed. Finally, even though the attractions were fun, the whole place did look a little too 'artificial' and the water park isn't really inter grated into the centre ... it's tagged onto the side. Now its a little unfair to compare Edmonton Shopping Mall with the Wesfield centre in Derby; Edmonton Shopping Centre opened in 1981 where as the Westfield Centre opened in 2007. However Milton Keynes shopping centre was built in 1979 (and updated in 1997) and that looks so much better.

I had planned to spent the whole day here but, due to having walked around it in 2 hours and being tired I decided to return back to Edmonton.

When back I checked my email to find that the HI-Jasper had answered my email. They told me that the HI was 7km out of town however it was the only building within the area and so I would need to bring all my food with me. This presented a problem for me; do I...

1) Purchase my food now in Edmonton
2) Purchase my food when I get to Jasper before I go to the hostel
3) Go to the hostel, then back into Jasper to buy food and then back to the hostel.

Well number 3 was out straight away as it meant I would have to catch the shuttle service three times ($5.00 per trip) and if I missed the last shuttle (5pm) then it would have to be a taxi ride of $15.00. Number 2 was out because it meant I would have to trawl around shopping centre with all my bags (something was going to get knocked). Number one seemed the best option and so I decided to head out into Edmonton to find a supermarket. However I had forgotten that the time was 4pm and it was Sunday ... did the shops close early. I raced out of the hostel first to find cash (which wasn't a proper bank and so I had to pay $1.00 for the service ... damn!) and then a supermarket. Actually I didn't have to rush as the supermarket, Sobeys, closed at 10pm on a Sunday.

I got my trolley and went through my head what I would need for three days hiking in Jasper. At the end I had purchased...

1x packed of Chocolate Chunk biscuit's (the same as on my trip to Calgary ... loved em)
3x packs of Rolos (they were on offer)
*1x small loaf of white bread
3x packs of Salt and Vinegar crisps
1x tinned beef stew
1x tinned beef and veg stew
1x tinned chicken stew
1x pack of pop tarts
1x box of wine gums
1x box of Nutria-grain (apple)
1x 2ltr bottle of Coca Cola
3x 1.5lt bottles of spring water
*1x bag of manderine oranges
*1x bunch of bananas
*1x slap of cheddar cheese (not red Leicester :( )

* currently in communal fridge ... if someone eats them then they are dead

So I have three days in Jasper and the above food is for that time; it's probably too much however I have broken it down into meals...


either Nutria-grain bars or pop tarts with water and a piece of fruit


Cheese sandwiches, crisps, rolos, 2 pieces of fruit and a couple of biscuits. 1 bottle of water


The stew's (went with tinned food as it lasts longer) with bread and coke

After leaving the supermarket I felt pretty pleased with myself; food shopping, laundry and booking accommodation ... completely providing for myself. I'm not sure if I will be getting all the nutrients that I am supposed to get but I thought that I couldn't be too far off. The only problem is the weight, however I only have to walk 8 mins to Edmonton bus station then, in Jasper, the shuttle picks me up at the bus station and takes me to the hostel.

Anyway that's it for now; I actually haven't done allot today but it's a big post. It's nearly 8pm and I need to be up for 5:00am ... I'm also tired from last night and full from the Chinese earlier so I'm skipping tea and hitting the sack ... goodnight.

Toodle Pip!


  1. With the amount of cheese on offer in Canada and the US you'd have thought it would be better!

    Glad your enjoying the trip. Is Vancouver on your itinerary?

  2. Yes it is ... around the 9th / 10th of June. Won't be there long as I need to get to Seattle for the 14th / 15th

  3. Seattle is a 4 hour bus ride away. Seriously considered flying into Seattle a couple of times we have been snowboarding in Whistler as its a lot cheaper flight for an extra 2 hours or so in the car.

  4. Do you drink Coke or Pepsi?
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