Lessons Learnt from Yellowknife Trip

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I am writing this blog while vacationing with my wife in Yellowknife, Canada. Yellowknife is the capital and only city, as well as the largest community, in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Yellowknife is the most northern city in Canada accessible by commercial flights. It is known for the best aurora borealis or northern lights in the world.

Today’s temperature in Yellowknife is -10C and the sky is covered by cloud. Hence, the aurora is not visible today. Surprisingly, the temperature at Edmonton, located 1600km south of Yellowknife was about -12C. Even more surprising, the Plains and Midwest of northern US, located more than 3000km south of Yellowknife, were paralyzed by snow storm.

My wife and me are staying in a Bed & Breakfast homestay, owned a Hong Kongite. They migrated from Hong Kong 13 years back. They preferred the slow pace life in Canada compared to the fast paced and cramped Hong Kong.

The journey to Yellowknife was a heart-pumping adventure.

Our Canadian visa was approved on the 11th hour. We had to drive to Canada Visa Application Centre in Singapore to submit the visa application, since the Canada High Commission in KL office had ceased its visa operation years ago. The typical process to get Canadian visa takes about 14 days. Everyone whom we have contacted, including the Canada Visa Application Centre in Kuala Lumpur had advised us there is no way our visa will be approved. But we were determined to go against the advice and true enough, our determination paid off.

Lesson learnt. Never assume on anything. Always check with the right authorities. Failures are for those who quit.

So, off we go to Toronto, via London by British Airways. Upon arriving Toronto Downtown via train from the Toronto Pearson Airport, we were cheated by a taxi driver to our hotel. Again, we assumed the taxis are professionals, because Canada is supposed to be a first world country. Alas, the country maybe first world, but the people were not anywhere near first class. The taxi charged us more than double than the normal fare. Our mistake was not asking whether the taxi uses meter or not.

Another lesson learnt. Never ever assume! Always ask. Ask. Ask.

Then we go to Niagara Falls by Greyhound bus. It was unbelievable experiences. Our tickets doesn’t come with seat numbers! To get front seats, we have to go very early to be the first on the waiting line. Imagined waiting for 1-hr or so, in the freezing temperature and bus fumes in the bus station. What a painful experience. It was the worst bus service even compared to the express bus services in Malaysia.

Then we took a flight by Air Canada to Yellowknife. The hotel advised us to go early, at least 2-hr before our flight. So we arrived at the airport very early but the line was so long, because not many counters were open. Upon asking a staff from Air Canada, they advised us to check-in using the kiosk. We did, but the kiosk failed to process our request. We still need to go with the manual check in. We have barely 1-hr before the flight. We were frantically looking for a staff of Air Canada to help us to speed up our checking in. Unfortunately, there are not many staff of Air Canada around.

Another lesson learnt. Always ask for help. And help will come to those who seek it.

Apparently, Air Canada is trying to reduce its operational cost by reducing its staff. But, they have done it in the wrong areas. Customers were not happy. The technology, through the kiosks, does not really helps. If you ask me, given a choice, I will never ever fly with Air Canada any more.

British Airways is also trying to reduce its cost. BA’s physical offices, at least in Asia, have been closed down. Now, customer services are done through telephone and emails from service centre, maybe in India.

Maybe Malaysian Airlines should do the same thing to stay afloat. Close all offices all over the world and just use one customer service centre.

Now the aurora in Yellowknife.

Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind. These disturbances are sometimes strong enough to alter the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma. The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emit light of varying colour and complexity.

Aurora will only appears when the sky is clear of clouds and against a pitch dark sky. We are still awaiting for that to happen. In the meantime, we just cross our fingers and pray hard to God to give us the opportunity to witness one of the greatest God’s creation in the sky in Yellowknife…

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