Whistler parkrun, BC, Canada

Whistler parkrun route
Whistler parkrun route.

I had no internet access for a few days before the event, and convinced myself it wasn’t happening and that, though I was staying nearby (at the Whistler RV park, which is situated among huge trees and has fabulous views), I was fine with it. I knew the event director had been awaiting a baby, and they had had a stand-in from Richmond the week before. It seemed unlikely they could do that a second week in a row. But BC liquor stores offer free wifi, I logged on while standing around waiting, and to my great and unbounded joy, the parkrun’s Facebook page had a simple “don’t forget parkrun tomorrow!” message.

The sun came out in celebration, too, so I had a Friday beer in the sun at Pemberton’s legion club to mark it properly.

I chatted before the start, then dashed off for a quick warm-up at 8.45, so missed most of the run briefing. The course is simple enough, though. Out and back on the left side, bottom to top, then on the way back there’s a left turn to take the loop round the lost lake. No marshals needed, but plenty of cones set out for peace of mind.

Lost lake, Whistler
Lost lake, Whistler.

It is a glorious run, through wide paths with huge trees stretching up to point at the sky. Not an easy one, though. Undulating is a good word for it. In fact, it felt like it was mostly uphill on the way out, but then that left turn made it not a simple downhill on the way back, introducing more undulations. I was still able to chase down the front runner, a youngster there with his family, but he ran away from me at 4k. We would have had company, but two front runners became one, thanks to an errant shoe lace.

Lost lake, Whistler.
Lost lake, Whistler.

Other runners along with dog walkers and cyclists were out using the paths, giving it a festive and friendly feel. Visitors from Sacramento were enjoying the cool, even drizzly, weather as much as the running, though our conversation ended naturally at the comment “I’d like to move to Squim, Washington; California’s too liberal for my tastes”. The course was good enough that I ran it again, taking in the smells and sights once more.

Wonderful, no matter what the weather is doing, though the lake and surrounds would look more beautiful with the sun and 30 degrees they had a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t see such weather in Whistler, more cool (cold) and overcast with occasional rain and more occasional sun. It is still a chocolate-box town, though, with new developments scattered up and down the mountain, and spending for the winter olympics obvious. Well worth a visit; and if you bring a tent, it needn’t be ruinously expensive.

Whistler RV park to Pemberton

A fairly short journey North up route 99 in British Columbia, Canada, is all that is needed to take in a great variety of landscapes. Plenty of trails to walk, Nairn falls to see, and the town of Pemberton giving a natural pause point. At that point the sun came out, brightening everyone’s mood measurably, and making the Royal Legion’s deck a little too tempting. They sell a decent range of beer, too.

Squamish to Whistler, BC, Canada

Canada is large. The country is large, the cars and trucks are large, the scenery is large. These photos may not do it justice, but once out of any cities, the landscape is just enormous. It’s also very beautiful. Have a gander.

Vancouver to Squamish, BC, Canada

Vancouver is a lovely city, parks everywhere, and even where the suburbs are, flowers and greenery abound. Even so, it can’t compare with the views from the road heading North, which heads out to the coast and has dramatic views of sea and mountains. These few photos show a few highlights, starting with my run round Burnaby lake, New Westminster.

Tarmacced trail through trees
Burnaby lake trail.
Panorama of Burnaby Lake
Burnaby Lake Trail.
Burnaby lake trail.
Burnaby lake trail.
Mountains overlook the West Coast road
West Coast road to Squamish.
Squamish
Squamish.
Mud flats in the river bank, Squamish
Squamish, underpass.
Squamish marina, overlooked by a mountain
Squamish marina.
Car park overlooked by mountains
Car park overlooked by mountains.
New wooden building under construction
Squamish construction.

Richmond Olympic parkrun, BC, Canada

Richmond Olympic parkrun route
Richmond Olympic parkrun route.

I stayed at an AirBnB in Richmond, which was an easy train ride from the airport – not overly expensive, even with a $5 airport surcharge – and a straightforward couple of miles jog to the river. Visitors to parkrun have been told to look for the silver sculpture, which is certainly easy to find, but I ignored (probably) further instructions to walk along the river a little to the start, chatting to fellow tourists from South Africa and England near the sculpture.

We still found it, though, and lined up in a smallish field, which helps the general friendly feel. The run is a straightforward out and back along the river, currently complicated a little by works on the path, which mean there is a 500m out and back, then the main one, then the 500m one again – 3×180 degree turns don’t help momentum.

Otherwise the course is almost flat, with a few gravelled sections to keep it interesting. I was disappointed not to run quicker, as I’d figured the switch to colder temperatures would help. No, I ran faster in Malaysia, even while feeling that the air was too warm for my lungs.

View over the Fraser river
View over the Fraser river.

The view is fabulous, though, even on an overcast day. The run is named because it passes the Richmond Olympic oval, a speed-skating venue built for the 2010 winter olympics, not that I spotted it on the run. It’s there to the left, near the end of the main out and back section. The surrounding sculptures were more obvious.

Sunny view over Fraser river
Sunny view over Fraser river (took the photo on Sunday).

It’s a lovely run, in a great runnable city. Afterwards people chatted and took photos, before heading off to a nearby Tim Norton’s for breakfast and more talk, which was just lovable. I also got tipped the wink that there were two races in the city on the sunday, the Grouse Grind (don’t be fooled by the main route being 2.9km on that link, the race is much longer) and the Scotiabank half marathon. The latter still had places, but at $120CAD, even my jetlagged self decided the early start was one reason too many not to bother. Still, there are a pile of running clubs in Vancouver and lots of races, so it’s worth doing some research before you come if you fancy more running than just a parkrun. Groups runs every day, I was promised. Here’s the list I was given of clubs in the area, and their running days.

  • Eastvanrunclub Mon
  • Mile2marathon Tues & Sat
  • WestVanRun Sat
  • Fraserstreetrunclub/fsrc tues & fri
  • Salomon Vancouver Trail Lab Sat
  • Cambie Running Room weds & sun
  • Van Running Co. Thurs
  • Lions gate road runners
  • Vancouver Falcons Athletic Club/vfac

Back to the parkrun – it was super friendly, easy to find, has great views and is not swamped by runners.

Langkawi; Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah

I booked a dorm bed at The Crowded House, Pantai Tengah, for two nights, extended to four, went to Koh Lipe after eight and then came back for another four. It would be fair to assume that I enjoyed Langkawi, but that doesn’t mean I can tell you about the island as a whole. I was happy in the SW corner; pavements to run on, a couple of beaches to chill out on, cheap accommodation (it’s up to 25 now, but was 20rm a night when I was there) and restaurants, and a social vibe that meant I referred to it as ‘home’ when we returned from Koh Lipe, and didn’t bother to correct myself.

A shaded spot, Pantai Tengah beach.
A shaded spot, Pantai Tengah beach.

This was a favourite spot, near to the paragliding experience (long or short, different prices), in the shade of the trees. On some days it was too hot even in the shade, but when not, I spent many hours here.

Beachlife - relaxed
Beachlife – relaxed.
Local jetty
Local jetty (SW corner Langkawi).

On a run, turning left out of my accommodation and running over the hill to the next resort, another left brought me here, a jetty with boats lined up. In the high season, they might be in use. But in May, very little activity.

The Crowded House, guesthouse
The Crowded House, guesthouse.

The picture doesn’t really show it, but each unit is painted a different colour. At the moment, the road is a single track, but on the day I left, the site on the right was extended, to be the basis of a new road. With construction just out of picture, on the right, this spot will not be quite so quiet in time.

Construction, next to Crowded House
Construction, next to Crowded House.

This is a different construction site. It is partly hidden by trees, but at the least will make the road busier.

Never mind the construction, though – wander to the beach for sunset and soak it up.

This last picture was taken from the pavement/sidewalk. Just behind the plantlife is a resort, and on the other side of the road a new one is going up, while that side of the road also has restaurants and shops. But the place is not too busy. Pantai Cenang, by contrast, is thronging. It is certainly not a big town, but being there might seem a little hectic, particularly given just how quiet the beach is. I’d recommend Pantai Tengah – you can always walk, Grab or bike to Pantai Cenang.

 

Langkawi to Koh Lipe by ferry

The journey between the two islands (and two countries, stepping from Malaysia to Thailand) takes 90minutes. From the Malaysian side it costs about 110rm, a bit less from the Thai. We booked with an agent in Pantai Cenang for 115rm, which included a transfer to Kuah, and the jetty. It’s all pretty simple, though less agile people might struggle a bit with hopping out of the ferry onto a water taxi on the Koh Lipe side. It’s a pretty cool way to arrive, though, going from ferry to taxi, then clambering over the side into the water, and walking up the beach to immigration. The Island Drum website has more about the process, though it suggests you pay for the water taxi, and they didn’t charge anyone on the way in or out for me. We were there in low season – as an idea of how low, one bar had a notice that they would reopen again in October (this in June).

They take your passport from you for the ferry ride, so you reclaim that from the ferry office, then head to immigration. From there, much accommodation is a walk away, but there are taxis to take you to the further flung places.

It’s a beautiful island, but small. It really suffers, of course, from plastic and other detritus being washed onto the shore. Sunrise beach, on the East coast, is probably the highlight – it is long and large, where other beaches are more littered, and have little space before the water.

I travelled with a few people from my hostel in Langkawi, which meant that we had a social time of eating, walking, swimming and drinking at the Akira resort when happy hour kicked in (4-7, cocktail fans). It also meant I turned round and followed them back to Langkawi for more of the same, rather than travelling on into Thailand. Otherwise, Koh Lipe is a good place to charter a boat and island hop, or go snorkelling and diving.

Sunrise beach.
Sunrise beach.
Jungle, West side of Koh Lipe
Jungle, West side of Koh Lipe. This was the end of my run, though it looked like it was possible to scramble down to the beach.
View over Edigyur beach (Pollo on maps.me), a walk down from the forest track, West of the island.
View over Edigyur beach (Pollo on maps.me), a walk down from the forest track, West of the island.
Maja and Malou photograph their coffee.
Maja and Malou photograph their coffee.
Tremendous snail
Tremendous snail.
Fishing boats, sunrise beach
Fishing boats, sunrise beach.
Beach, water and boats
Sunrise beach – a little splash through the water to get round.
Driftwood floating in the water.
Driftwood floating in the water.
Shoal of fish near to shore
Shoal of fish near to shore – it is quite deep just there.
Near Mountain Resort, Koh Lipe.
Near Mountain Resort, Koh Lipe.
Beach with driftwood and seaweed, hills behind.
Sunrise beach.
Akira beach club, Koh Lipe.
Akira beach club, Koh Lipe.

 

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