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Highlight for Album: Pingyao Engagement - Spring 2011
Pingyao Engagement - Spring 2011
At the end of May 2011, Carina planned a weekend trip for us to go to the small city of Pingyao, in Shanxi province. Pingyao is a UNESCO world heritage site because it’s an extremely well preserved walled city from the Ming and Qing dynasties. We took an overnight train to the city and made our way to our hotel. Just like every building in Pingyao, our hotel felt like a museum piece with several hundred year old architecture and furnishings. Later that day we saw several of the town’s museums: the RiShengChang headquarters of the first bank in China, and the museum of the first Armed Escort Agency in northern China. The museums were informative, but not that much of a highlight. It’s hard to get excited about a museum when the whole town is one big museum. Although at the Armed Escort training yard we did get a change to practice some archery. After getting tired of museums we decided to just walk around the town, and set down at a local bar when we got tired. This is really the highlight of Pingyao, the narrow streets, ancient buildings, and bustling atmosphere. Maybe it was the off season, but the crowds were totally reasonable, with main streets full but not crowded and side streets almost empty and quiet. It's a really pleasant town to walk around in. That night we went out for dinner at the most well-known restaurant in town and then to one of the popular bar for drinks. When we returned to our hotel I surprised Carina by asking her to marry me. I had the ring ready for a while, and I finally found the right moment to give it to her. The next day, was a big grey and rainy. We were in a great mood, and we decided to visit the Temple of the City God, and then walk along the top of the famous city walls to get a view of the whole town. We had a quick dinner of local specialties at our hotel and then took off for the train station for the overnight train back to Beijing. It was a lovely trip, and one that we will obviously remember for the rest of our lives.

Last changed on 06/06/11. This album contains 52 items

This album has been viewed 1946 times since 06/05/11.
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Highlight for Album: Toronto Christmas - Winter 2010
Toronto Christmas - Winter 2010

Last changed on 06/19/11. This album contains 11 items

This album has been viewed 1263 times since 06/19/11.
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Highlight for Album: Nanjing - Summer 2010
Nanjing - Summer 2010
In the summer of 2010, Carina and I took a weekend trip to Nanjing. Carina spent 4 years living there while she was in University, so she really wanted to show me around the city that she loved. We visited the Presidential Palace, which was the center of the government when Nanjing was the capital of the Republic of China. Later we spent the afternoon at the Nanjing Massacre Museum. This was a moving place that commemorated the massacre of 300,000 people at the hands of the Japanese during the Second World War. Later we took a ride out of the city to visit the university that Carina studied at. That evening we took in Nanjing’s fun bars and night markets. The next day we spend the morning and afternoon hiking through the Sun Yat-Sen memorial park and the Ming Tombs.

Last changed on 06/06/11. This album contains 28 items

This album has been viewed 1519 times since 10/04/10.
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Highlight for Album: Beijing - Spring 2010
Beijing - Spring 2010
During the spring of 2010, Carina and I visited the Beijing Zoo, and the Chinese Ethnic Minorities Park. At the Beijing Zoo we were lucky enough to see the giant pandas awake and active. One was sitting right up close to the glass munching on bamboo. Another 3 were involved in a massive play fight that had them rolling all around the enclosure. The Ethnic Minorities Park is a big underwhelming as a museum, but it's a great park to enjoy a day of walking. The park is huge, with lots of lakes and trees, and full of reconstructions of buildings and art from all of China’s 52 ethnic groups. It feels like a collection of tiny villages that you can explore. Some parts of the park had special snacks for sale and live performances. But the real enjoyment was just walking around, taking pictures, and continuing on to the next interesting site around the bend.

Last changed on 06/06/11. This album contains 33 items

This album has been viewed 1526 times since 10/04/10.
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Highlight for Album: Qingdao - Summer 2009
Qingdao - Summer 2009
In September 2009, me and my girlfriend, Carina, took a weekend trip to Qingdao. After we had some trouble getting railway tickets that could get us out and back in time, we found reasonably priced plane tickets for the short flight to the beach city. Qingdao is a good summer weekend getaway. The tourist attractions and old German architecture are worth seeing once. But the real draw for me was the beach, and the beach town feeling that comes with it. Its easy to enjoy fresh air, fresh seafood, and freshly brewed beer from the Tsingtao brewery....especially after a summer of hard work in Beijing.

Last changed on 11/16/09. This album contains 29 items

This album has been viewed 2642 times since 11/01/09.
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Highlight for Album: Toronto - Summer 2009
Toronto - Summer 2009
At the end of June 2009 I went back to Toronto to visit my family and friends. It was a great trip! My good friends Bryan and Elaine were getting married, so I attended their wedding and even played as part of the band. It was also great to visit Toronto during the summer. After so many Christmas visits, it was good to enjoy the warm weather, and sit in my mom's beautiful garden.

Last changed on 11/09/09. This album contains 28 items

This album has been viewed 2116 times since 10/24/09.
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Highlight for Album: Beijing - Spring & Summer 2009
Beijing - Spring & Summer 2009
As the weather warmed up in Beijing me and my girlfriend, Carina, took some time to enjoy the outdoors and some of the sights in Beijing. We visited various temple fair to celebrate the Spring Festival, headed out to the suburbs to see a historical temple, and spent some time out in Houhai enjoying the activities around the lake.

Last changed on 11/05/09. This album contains 26 items

This album has been viewed 2358 times since 10/23/09.
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Highlight for Album: Toronto Christmas - Winter 2008
Toronto Christmas - Winter 2008
In what is now a yearly tradition, I went home to Toronto to spend the Christmas holidays with my friends and family. This year's trip was a little short because things were busy at the office, but it was still great to relax at my parent's house, enjoy my mother's great cooking, hang out with friends, open presents around the tree, and of course visit the zoo.

Last changed on 04/28/09. This album contains 8 items

This album has been viewed 2634 times since 03/01/09.
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Highlight for Album: Balanced Worlds New year Party - Winter 2008
Balanced Worlds New year Party - Winter 2008
In late December we decided to hold a New Year Party for all of our employees at Balanced Worlds. After some discussion we finally came up with the perfect event guaranteed to entertain a bunch of dedicated action game fans. We took them to a small arms firing range just outside Beijing. This place has every weapon imaginable: handguns, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, heavy machine guns and even a few anti-aircraft guns. Every employee had a budget and they could choose whatever weapons they wanted to blast away at the targets. Everyone had a really great time. As an added bonus we all left with a good understanding of the look, sound, and visceral feel of these real weapons firing. This will help us make our games even better.

Last changed on 04/28/09. This album contains 4 items

This album has been viewed 2713 times since 03/01/09.
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Highlight for Album: Beijing - Fall & Winter 2008
Beijing - Fall & Winter 2008
After Beijing recovered from its Olympic fever things basically returned to normal. That's when I met my girlfriend, Carina. The two of us share a passion for exploring Beijing and seeing what cool sights the city has to offer. In this gallery we have pictures that we took as we took in some of the temples, parks and galleries that make Beijing a cool place to live.

Last changed on 04/28/09. This album contains 19 items

This album has been viewed 2200 times since 03/01/09.
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Highlight for Album: Beijing Olympics - Summer 2008
Beijing Olympics - Summer 2008
It seemed like since I first moved to here I noticed that everything in China was focused on the Beijing Olympics. Massive construction and cleanup projects were being done, factories were being closed down and traffic was being limited to clean up the air, volunteers were being trained, tickets were being sold through complex lottery processes, city residents were being taught how to be polite to foreigners, stand in line, and not spit on the street, migrant workers were being sent away to the countryside, not so presentable businesses like illegal DVD stores, sidewalk food venders, and some dance clubs were being temporarily closed down….all in order to polish the city up for the rest of the world’s attention. Just like everyone else, I was anticipating the event, and expecting something out of the ordinary. We decided to close our company, Balanced Worlds, for two weeks during the Olympics and give everyone a paid vacation to enjoy the festivities. My brother and his girlfriend flew out from Toronto to visit me. So the three of us set out to see some sporting event, visit the tourist sights, and generally soak up the atmosphere during this special time in Beijing.

Last changed on 02/10/12. This album contains 60 items

This album has been viewed 3705 times since 01/29/09.
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Highlight for Album: Skiing on my Birthday - Spring 2008
Skiing on my Birthday - Spring 2008
For my birthday in March 2008, me and 3 friends decided to see what skiing was available near Beijing. For about 400rmb we hired a driver who took us out to Nan Shan, or South Mountain, a ski hill about an hour away from Beijing, wait for us all day and then take us back to Beijing. From what I have read about skiing around Beijing, Nan Shan is pretty typical. The peaks are not very high and the number of slopes is not huge, but the options of runs have at least something for everyone, from beginner to expert. The ski hill was on a dusty plateau and it looked completely out of place, as it was the only snow you could see anywhere around. Overall, skiing there was a fun experience. The hill has just enough variety to provide a day of fun.

Last changed on 09/11/10. This album contains 6 items

This album has been viewed 2025 times since 01/29/09.
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Highlight for Album: Chinese New Year - Spring 2008
Chinese New Year - Spring 2008
My first Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, in Beijing as an amazing experience. I can honestly say that I have never experienced a holiday like this anywhere else that I have visited. The two week celebration starts of with fireworks...more fireworks than you can imagine. This is not a government organized fireworks display like Canada Day or the 4th of July. In China, every family goes out and buys tons of fireworks and sets them off all over the city, every night for 2 weeks straight. And these fireworks are not the tiny roman candles that the general public can buy in the US or Canada. These are big boxes of 'professional' starbursts, and people are setting them off in the street between the high rise building all over Beijing. But Chinese New Year is more than just fireworks. There are also Temple Fairs, giant carnivals that are held in temples and parks all over Beijing. And at the end of the Spring Festival there is the Lantern Festival. That's a chance to go and see massive glowing lantern displays lighting up the night sky.

Last changed on 11/01/09. This album contains 14 items

This album has been viewed 2290 times since 01/29/09.
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Highlight for Album: Bryan Visits Beijing - Winter 2008
Bryan Visits Beijing - Winter 2008
In January of 2008, my lifelong friend Bryan came from Toronto to Beijing for a visit. This album has images that I took while showing him around some sites in Beijing, like the Red Gate Gallery, Silk Street Market and the Underground City. The Underground City ranked as the most difficult to find and also most disappointing tourist site I ever visited. After hearing a few complaints that the images I had in my gallery only showed classical Chinese architecture, and made Beijing look like it was a city from the past, I also threw in some pictures I took of interesting modern buildings in Beijing.

Last changed on 09/11/10. This album contains 5 items

This album has been viewed 2102 times since 01/29/09.
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Highlight for Album: Beijing - Fall 2007
Beijing - Fall 2007
I’d been living in Beijing for about 8 months when I realized that I had yet to put up any pictures of life in this interesting city. So I decided to throw up some recent pictures of that I snapped while taking in some of the cultural and tourist sites in Beijing. I have pictures from my trip to Tiananmen Square on Chinese National Day, pictures from the Chaoyang Theater where I saw a famous Chinese acrobat show, pictures from my Halloween celebrations, and pictures from my trip to the Beijing zoo.

Last changed on 09/11/10. This album contains 18 items

This album has been viewed 4208 times since 11/04/07.
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Highlight for Album: Tibet - Spring 2007
Tibet - Spring 2007
For the Chinese Labor Day May 1 vacation in 2007, me and my friend Chris flew from Beijing to Lhasa, Tibet, for 10 days of sightseeing. For 3 days we stayed in the capital city Lhasa. Parts of the city look like a generic modern Chinese city where people who look ethnically Han Chinese walk along wide streets lined with upscale clothing and cell phone stores. That’s not what I came to Tibet to see. In the old Tibetan quarter of Lhasa it’s a completely different world. I could walk along the kora around the Jokhang temple, or visit the Potala Palace, and see pilgrims dressing in flowing overcoats carrying prayer wheels walk past market stalls selling all kinds of handicrafts. But even that felt a little bit forced and touristy. It wasn’t until I turned off the beaten path and walked down an alley to a small temple that I saw the old Lhasa. It was a tiny courtyard packed with hundreds of sitting Tibetan pilgrims spinning prayer wheels and chanting together. In the tiny dark temple monks chanted, beat a drum and blew huge horns, and yak butter candles sizzled in front of statues of Buddhist deities. After 3 days in Lhasa we hired a Land Cruiser, driver and guide for 6 days of touring around Tibet. We drove through the countryside past small villages and farmers working the land with yaks. We stopped at holy lakes and visited monasteries. We visited the Mt Everest base camp and saw the highest mountain in the world. It was an amazing trip. A few people have asked me what it was like being at high altitude in Tibet so I figure its something that many people might be curious about. My experience is that altitude sickness slaps you in the face as soon as they depressurize the airplane cabin in Lhasa at 3600m above sea level. My friend told me that small plane pilots aren’t even allowed to fly that high without oxygen. So yes, I felt the effects. I suddenly had to use the bathroom like crazy because the air inside me had expanded under the low pressure. Walking off the plane in Lhasa was painful. My head hurt. I felt a bit dizzy. I felt out of breath. I needed to walk very slowly and deliberately. When I went up a flight of stairs I needed to stop for a minute to catch my breath. I took some painkillers for the headaches, drank lots of water, generally took it easy, and felt much better the next day. By the end of the second day by body had adjusted and I could feel comfortable exerting myself. The dizziness and shortness of breath would noticeably come back when I went more than 1000m higher than Lhasa. At Mt Everest base camp, 5200m high, I felt pretty out of breath. At that altitude the air pressure on you is less than half of what it is at sea level.

Last changed on 09/16/07. This album contains 63 items

This album has been viewed 11303 times since 05/12/07.
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Highlight for Album: Thailand and Cambodia - Fall 2006
Thailand and Cambodia - Fall 2006
For my post project vacation in the fall of 2006, my friend, Chris, and I visited Thailand and Cambodia. The pretty ambitious two week itinerary that we threw together had us staying in Bangkok for 4 days, exploring the Grand Palace, visiting the Emerald Buddha statue in Wat Phra Kaew , seeing the massive 120ft golden reclining Buddha statue at Wat Pho, taking in the National Museum, visiting a bustling night markets in Patpong and the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, catching a night of Muay Thai kickboxing fights at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium, eating some awesome Thai food, and having fun at the various nigh spots around the city. From Bangkok we flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia where we spent a day visiting the immense Khmer ruins at Angkor. These were the most amazing ancient ruins that I’d ever seen. The sight of the tall spires of Angkor Wat and the massive ancient trees growing through the walls of Ta Prohm temple can’t be compared to anything else on earth. The next day in Cambodia was spent on a boat tour of a traditional floating village on Tonle Sap lake. Then we flew back to Bangkok for another evening of nightlife before taking off the next day for 4 days of beach life on Phuket Island, Thailand. In Patong Beach I enjoyed the warm blue water, perfect sand, and vibrant nightlife. On a full day boat tour I took in Phi Phi Island, famous for its scenery, wonderful snorkeling, and monkey beach. Some decadent pampering in the hotel spa and some shopping for ridiculous fake designer clothes rounded out my time in Phuket. After that, it was back to Bangkok for a final day of touring around the ruins of the old capital city at Ayutthaya, and finally a flight back home.

Last changed on 12/02/10. This album contains 40 items

This album has been viewed 13036 times since 12/15/06.
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Highlight for Album: Baja California, Mexico - Fall 2006
Baja California, Mexico - Fall 2006
In October 2006 I met my parents for a week long trip around Isla Espiritu Santo, in the Sea of Cortez near La Paz, Baja California, Mexico. The island is a nature preserve with an amazing desert landscape, rugged cliffs surrounded by crystal clear blue ocean. The trip was a fully catered excursion organized by Baja Outdoor Activities (http://www.kayakinbaja.com/). Our guide, Francisco was excellent. He kept us on track, made the activities fun, and taught me a good deal about kayaking. Our skiff driver and cook, Jesus, produced some truly amazing meals of fresh sea food, salad and home cooked Mexican food. Our assistant guide, Mario, whipped up some great Margaritas and Pina Coladas for happy hour. The highlights of the trip included: snorkeling through schools of tropical fish over beautiful coral reefs, hiking through desert canyons and up mountains to take in the view, catching a fish and a squid for our meals, and snorkeling with wild sealion pups that enjoyed playing with us in the water. But the best aspect of the trip was that it probvided a complete getaway from the world. Sleeping in tents just feet away from the ocean waves, seeing the stars overhead at night, being away from electricity, internet, news of the outside world, and spending the days hiking and paddling through the beautiful landscape, was the best way possible to clear my head of the stress of living in L.A. and making games. When the sun went down at 8pm it was completely dark, and campfires were prohibited, so we all went to sleep by 8:30. At 7am when the sunlight hit the mesh of our tents we all woke up. Its amazing to be that in tune with nature and to realize how little you really need to be happy.

Last changed on 07/12/10. This album contains 21 items

This album has been viewed 4459 times since 12/14/06.
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Highlight for Album: China - Fall 2005
China - Fall 2005
For our post project vacation in 2005 my buddy Chris and I decided to travel around mainland China. We spent 19 days visiting Shanghai, Beijing and Xi’an. It was an awesome trip. Shanghai is an amazing modern city with an impressive skyline of futuristic looking buildings, like the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. The Shanghai Museum has an impressive collection of ancient bronzes, and the Old Chinese City has a great market to bargain for random souvenirs. In Beijing we spent time in Tian’anmen Square, talked to the “art students”, saw Chairman Mao in his mausoleum, and toured the Forbidden City Imperial Palace. We also visited the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and then saw the amazing 18m (60ft) statue of Buddha carved from a single tree in the Lama Temple. When visiting the Great Wall we took the extra effort to visit Simatai, which is farther away from Beijing than other parts of the wall, but is far less crowded, and allows you to hike the original unrestored wall as it climbs along a beautiful mountain ridge. Xi’an was the capital of China for 13 dynasties starting with the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi in 221BC. We saw the army of Terracotta Warriors that were buried to protect the first emperor, along with the Hunqing Hot Springs and the ancient Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which all lie east of the city. Later we toured the lively downtown area surrounded by impressive city walls and saw the Drum Tower, Bell Tower and explored the Great Mosque, which were all built during the Ming dynasty. Along with exploring the sights in these cities, we went out almost every night and took in the vibrant nightlife. Clubs were packed with people till almost 4am on any given night of the week and we had a great time meeting and hanging out with the locals.

Last changed on 05/22/11. This album contains 35 items

This album has been viewed 5394 times since 10/06/05.
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Highlight for Album: My Little Snowblading Injury - Winter 2005
My Little Snowblading Injury - Winter 2005
For the Christmas Holidays of 2004, I spent a week with my family, skiing at the Killington Resort in Vermont. On my second day on the hill, December 20 2004, I was going way too fast on my snowblades when I went over a hill, caught some air, landed, caught the end of my left blade, and fell forward onto my left shoulder. I hit the ground really hard. When I got up I knew something was wrong. I saw a doctor at the clinic and found out that, after many years of skiing and playing all sorts of sports, I had finally broken my first bone: my left collar bone. I guess I found out the hard way that snowblades are great for carving and doing tricks, but they're not nearly as stable as skis at high speeds. For those of you out there who are wishing me all the best and wondering how my recovery is going, here are my x-rays. If you're freaked out by nasty looking broken bones, you may want to stay away.

Last changed on 06/28/08. This album contains 2 items

This album has been viewed 4726 times since 01/27/05.
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