Tokyo – From A Small Fishing Village To A Bustling Metropolitan Prefecture

When I am researching information about Tokyo, there is a curiosity about the history of one of the popular or famous city in the world. Tokyo’s former name was Edo which was part of old Musashi Province (information from Wikipedia) wherein fortified by Edo clan. Edo  was a small fishing village around 18th century, but seeing Tokyo right now, as I knew that it was a city until I understand that it’s not just a city but a metropolitan prefecture of Japan. It is the most populous metropolitan area of the country and where Japan’s government located.

After seeing some part of Tokyo, knowing what it was before is an amazing thing to discover. Realizing how far it progressed from where it was before is truly considered exponential growth and success of the small village.

A Metro To Remember

The inbound flight that I was able to book to Japan was through Narita Airport. The said airport is 1 hour train to Tokyo Downtown. At first, when I started planning my family’s itinerary, Narita area was first on my list to visit while in Japan with the reason that it is near from the airport and considering utilizing our time. Then I changed the list when I was finalizing the itinerary, I replaced Narita with Tokyo.

We left home from Dasmarinas Cavite around 1AM of September 11, allotting 4.5 hours before the scheduled flight. The past few days that week in my country had gloomy weather as almost every afternoon to evening, in Metro Manila and its outskirts had been raining. We left early as we were trying to anticipate road traffic challenges that may arise if the weather will be the same. I was really glad that Friday early morning, the road was quiet as we travel on the way to the airport. We had smooth travel from home to the airport and the good thing about that morning, it wasn’t raining at all. Around 2AM we’re already at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 3.

At the airport, we followed the norms of people traveling international such as paying travel taxes and flight checking-in. After checked-in, since it was still early and we had ample time to spare, we had our breakfast at local food chain in the airport. Next, we went to immigration gate. After passing immigration, we went straight to the airline’s gate. While waiting at the designated gate of our flight, I was thinking about Japan. In my mind, in just less than an hour or so, I will be on my way in a country called “Land of the Rising Sun”. A country which for me was only a dream. At that moment of my life, I felt excited because soon the dream in my mind will become a reality. And the momentous about it, I’m traveling with my family.

The flight was more than 4 hours. The plane took off around 5:30AM in Manila. We landed in Narita International Airport past 10:35AM. Japan was 1 hour ahead in Philippines. We disembarked the plane and walked towards immigration section. Standing in one of the airport in Japan was the realization of my thoughts that I was really in Japan. When we passed the immigration officers, that was the time I believed we will really see and experience Japan.

After the immigration, one of the first thing that’s unique with Japan at the airport is their toilet where you have a lot of options to do aside from the normal stuff that people does. What I’m referring to is that, their toilets has options to play some music or soothing sounds while doing your business. And most of the manual stuff like flushing before and after, it will be done automatically for you. Well, in my country that’s not the case, though some malls has toilets with automatic flush after doing your business.

We were adjusting in the airport and I was thinking what’s the next thing to do, we tried to figure out how we were going to Tokyo downtown. We found Skyliner desk, Skyliner is a train line that directly goes to Nippori and Ueno Station (another option is Narita Express train line that goes straight to Tokyo Station). I chose Skyliner because our Japan Railpass was not yet activated and it has only 7 days, we will be in Japan for 10 days so we were saving the other 3 days. I also knew that we still have chance to experience Narita Express train once we return to the Airport, for our scheduled flight back to Manila. Skyliner is just one of the great trains that we were able to ride while in Japan. I bought the tickets for four and then I looked for ATM to get some money. We went upstairs  (where the departure floor is located) to pickup the pocket WiFi in Japan Post Office that I reserved for rent prior arriving in Japan, WiFi will enable us to connect to internet while roaming around the country which is a LTE connection, unlimited data and cheaper for 10 days compared if I will activate data roaming in my mobile from my country and the best of all, all in the family can connect internet seamlessly.  After I picked-up the wifi, my father told me that he lost his jacket somewhere and it seems he left it after we passed the immigration officers. My father and my sister went to Information Desk at the airport and requested to looked for the jacket. It was a good thing that we had some photos of the jacket and we were able to show it to airport officers. In few minutes of waiting, my father’s jacket had been returned to him immediately. That kind of experience in a new place was really a great thing. I appreciated how people in that place were so efficient and trustworthy that they can easily find my father’s jacket. It may be a different situation if we were in another country.

Because of the incident, we came back to the Skyliner train desk where we bought our tickets and we requested to replace our tickets as the ticket schedule has passed already. They issued us new tickets for next train which will be leaving soon. We hurriedly went down to the train platform but the train doors were already closed when we arrived and its departing, we missed it for the second time. I came back upstairs and let my family wait in the platform as it’s quite inconvenient if all of us going up with our luggage. I talked to the train officer and advised me to get new ticket. I returned to the Skyliner for the second time, the third schedule given to us was at least an hour waiting time, a very sufficient time for all of us not to miss the train. Missing the train is not really something that’s surprising for us to experience because its our first time to find the train platform and it’s also first time to ride a train in Japan.

From Narita Airport Station (because there is Narita Station which different station), we arrived at Ueno Station after an hour.  Japan is a country where train is the most common and most efficient public mass transportation. After arriving in Ueno Station, we started to use our Passmo card I bought together with the Japan Railpass. Passmo card are usable to all trains and buses around Tokyo, but it cannot be used for long travel. Passmo card are accepted to many cities in Japan, maybe in the next coming years they have one card for all transportation which I will be looking forward to in the future. I did my research about public transportation in Japan and understood that there are specific tickets for some train lines. That’s why I made sure that we have the appropriate ticket for the train line we will be taking. From Ueno Station, we transferred to Tokyo Metro Subway and took Hibiya Line towards Naka-meguro and got-off at Kayabacho Station where our hotel for 4 consecutive days in Tokyo is very near and the hotel we will be staying is Sotetsu-Fresa Inn Nihombashi Kayabacho.

Honestly, based on my plan, after we arrived in Japan, we planned to see some places in the afternoon as part of our activity to end our first day. The original plan was to visit Ueno Park, but the plan did not happen because both of my parents were already tired as we haven’t slept due to early flight that day, I decided to cancel the planned activity.

The following places we visited in Tokyo are: Ginza for the first day, Ryogoku, Akihabara for the fourth day and Ueno, Azakusa, Tokyo SkyTree for the 9th day in Japan. Detailed stories of each places are posted or will be posted separately on the link given below.

Day 1 – Ginza

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Day 4 – Ryogoku Kokugikan

Hidden Panorama - Tokyo Fishing Village Metropolitan Prefecture

Day 4 – Akihabara

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Our second and last Saturday in Japan spent another day in Tokyo. Early in the morning, we took Shinkansen train from Kyoto to Tokyo. We left Kyoto Station around 6:23AM and we arrived in Tokyo Station around 9AM. Though these two cities far from each other, the Shinkansen train made us felt that both are just near each other. The estimated distance between Kyoto Station and Tokyo Station are around 500 km and it only needs more than 2.5 hours travel within the two stations. It was 3rd time we had Shinkansen Train, though it was not the fastest Shikansen, but it still comparable in terms of its speed, for what I’m aware of the Shinkansen train we took just late of 10 minutes compared with the fastest bullet train. Because it was long weekend (as September 21 is a public holiday in Japan), I anticipated that a lot of people were traveling and we reserved our ticket a day before and it’s almost fully booked  when I reserved our tickets, the seats we got were not beside each other and one seat was in another car train. I let myself apart from my family as I can be on my own and let my youngest sister be with my parents in another car train.

When we were at Tokyo Station, we looked around for luggage locker because our hotel for the night is near in Narita International Airport. After checking-in our luggage, we roam around again for the last time in Tokyo.

Day 9 – Ueno Park and Ameyoko

Hidden Panorama - Tokyo Fishing Village Metropolitan Prefecture1

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Day 9 – Asakusa and Sensoji Temple

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Day 9 – Tokyo SkyTree

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After taking our time with photo shots in Tokyo SkyTree, we decided to go down as we need to catch-up train going Otsuka to attend an event. From Tokyo SkyTree Station in Tobu Line, we returned to Asakusa  Station, then transferred to Ginza Line. We got off at Ueno Station. At Ueno Station  I just realized that I have to cancel our travel in the place that my family need to be, due to my unintended mistake, we had to take train to Tokyo Station instead to Otsuka Station as we need to catch-up the last trip of Narita Express train from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport Station, as our hotel for our last night in Japan was near the airport.

At Tokyo Station we walked so fast as we need to find the luggage locker we used to checked-in our luggage and bags at the station. We arrived at the train platform for Narita Express train at least 5 minutes before its scheduled departure as we were catching our breath. For all of us it was really a nick of time because if we missed the train, we have to take a taxi which was really expensive coming from Tokyo to Narita.

We arrived past 9PM at Narita Airport Station. Then, we took the shuttle bus to the hotel we booked. We checked-in at the Narita Tobu Airport hotel before 10PM. Before we ended the night, we had a wonderful and delightful dinner at the hotel as both of my parents complimented the food we had that night and I felt relieved to what I heard.

We woke-up early and did last-minute packing of our luggage and checked-out the hotel. We took the shuttle bus back to the airport. We arrived at the airport, had enough time before our flight. I went back to the Post Office booth and returned the WiFi device I rented. We checked-in in our flight and passed the immigration. We went to the designated gate of our flight and waited for our departure. At that time I felt that days passed so fast. I remembered 9 days ago, we just came in to Japan and yet that moment we’re about to leave the country. I sensed that in few hours I and my family has to go back in reality of our lives again.

I had a great time in Tokyo and oveall in Japan, though there are lots of places that I haven’t seen but we had wonderful time and we had fun as Japan offered us a lot of places to see to enjoy our trip in this country called “Land of the Rising Sun”.

Until I return again.

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Mount Lofty Summit – South Australia’s Majestic Summit

Morning day tour was over and our bus returned to the coach terminal where we came from that day in the morning. And because of that, I got a chance to stroll in the nearby market for lunch, the market is called Adelaide Central Market. After a quick walk, I select Chinese restaurant and ate comfortably with Asian menu. As I observed the place, the market was jam pack with people who common in such kind of place. Caucasian, asian and other races were flocked together in one place.

When the time was up, I returned to the terminal for my afternoon tour and in just few minutes, we were ready to go. The afternoon adventure focused on highland areas near Adelaide. Our first stop was Mount Lofty Summit which considered as the highest point in southern Mount Lofty Ranges. We passed city centre as we drove towards Adelaide Hills. I can’t remember which road we took to the summit but we drove almost half an hour before we reached the place.

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–Mount Lofty Summit Lookout Area with Flinders Column

 

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–Some information to be found and worth reading it

When we arrived at the location, I was really excited because highlands or lets say mountains or hills is my most favourite place to visit whether it’s an adventure climb or a simple tour. From the bus, we walked a little until we reached the lookout area. Mount Lofty Summit is also called as “The Summit” which considered as majestic peak in South Australia, I’m not sure what does it mean but for my own opinion maybe because of the panoramic views that will be witness in the place like Adelaide City Centre and Adelaide Airport which all within the vicinity of vast and wide Adelaide Plains.

 

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–Adelaide Plains

 

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–Adelaide Plains

When we were in the lookout area, I grabbed all my chances to take photos of the scenery. And it was amazing because at the time we were at the summit, it was obvious that the clouds was heavier and darker, these clouds had been visible to most of the photos. While strolling around the place, I learned that the summit was named by famous Matthew Flinders who an English man from Britain whom navigated Australia. “The Summit” also offers restaurants and cafes where people can indulge with great foods while watching panoramic views, a truly relaxing place to be.

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–Adelaide City Centre

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–Adelaide Airport

Mount Lofty Summit reminded me again how I really missed mountains, seeing places which can only be appreciated or discovered at the top together with nature is one of the main reason I love to be in highlands.

At the top, I can see beyond my imagination and started to think things in good ways and view the world again as liveable place to stay on.

Seoul And Beyond – Random Moments

On this post, I am not really going to tell a story but just to show some photos that I randomly took while walking in some areas of Seoul and other places while doing nothing or just looking for something. And this will be the last standard post that I had with the topic about South Korea unless I come back again to this country that I fall in love with. For single photo or image post, South Korea may still appear in random pictures which I usually published everyday.

Within Seoul

1. Incheon International Airport

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After we got off the plane and walked to the arrival area of the airport, there were few people around since we arrived past 8PM in the evening.

2. Nonhyeon Bus Stop

I captured this photo because we were trying to see if we were able to use the bus instead of train to go somewhere until we realized we never understand what’s the information in front of us.

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3. Jeonggak Station Exit

When we were on our way to Insadong, we got off at this exit as we understand its somewhat the nearest exit in Jong-ro to the market until we found Tapgol Park along the road.

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4. City Hall Station Exit

I had this photo after coming from Insadong market and we planned to go to City Hall Station to buy a discounted ticket to Everland at Hotel President. All of us were fascinated with the hanging umbrellas displayed at the exit stair we took after getting off the station. We also found a modern style of entrance/exit transportation card reader.

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We had some time to walk around the area where we saw City Hall itself. We saw one of the main gate of Deoksugung (no photo captured), a palace that we haven’t had a chance to see though we have ticket for it.

5. Seoul Metropolitan Library

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6. Hotel President

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This was the place where we bought our discounted ticket and memory of the Philippine Tourism center near City Hall area.

7. Taepyeongno 2(i)-ga

This was the street that we passed through while we were on our way to Sungnyemun Gate. I enjoyed the short walk in this street because both lanes has Korean restaurants. After walking at the side of Sejong-daero, we saw Namdaemun Market.

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8. Gyeongbokgung Station Exit

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During our first day adventure in Seoul, the photos captured while we were on our way to Gyeongbokgung Palace after getting off the train.

9. Sejong-daero

I captured the photo above after we came from Gyeongbokgung Palace on our way to Sejong Center.

Sejong-daero Near Gyeongbokgung Palace

8. Sungnyemun Gate

We saw this gate while walking along Sejong-daero after we came from Hotel President where we bought our Everland discounted ticket. This gate is said to be one of the eight gate that surround Fortress Wall of Seoul which surrounded the city in the Joseon dynasty.

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10. Seoul Station and Surrounding Area

Photos taken after we came from DMZ Tour, got off at Seoul Station, walked a little until we found Concos The Galleria where we had our lunch before returning to our hotel to pick-up our luggage for our flight the night of that same day.

Seoul Station 1

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11. Seoul City Tower

One of the building around the area of Seoul Station, captured this photo when we returned from an activity we attended in Seoul.

Seoul City Tower

12. Gangnam-daero

I captured this while walking along Gangnam-daero after our Everland adventure. To be honest, we stayed in a hotel which in Gangnam area but unfortunately we never really had time to explore it. The only chance we had after we came from Everland, we walked along the road and discovered we stayed in one of the busiest district in Seoul.

Gangnam-daero

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Gangnam
Small Street in Gangnam Area

 Beyond Seoul

13. AK Plaza – Suwon Exit Station Mall

Snapshot captured while we were trying to figure out how to go to Hwaseong Fortress. It is one of the noticeable building as the location is both foot and automobile traffic area.

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Name Of The Place : Canada

Just a thought

Name of The Place (Post#8) : Canada

Before flying back to Manila, while roaming around in Vancouver International Airport, I saw an interesting thought which says “thinking canada”. It was true that while we were waiting for our flight schedule we already missing Canada. For a short period of time, I saw a lot of beautiful places that inspires me to continue exploring the beauty of nature that existing in our world. I never regret starting traveling and discovering the world we live in.

I have many posts that tackles my travel experience in Canada, both in Alberta and British Columbia province. As too many posts just visit Countries page to check one of them.

Uniquely An Arab World – Dubai

I never thought that time will come that I will be able to visit a city belong to Middle East Asia. One main reason, limitation of my passport in terms of visa free entry to different countries in the world. I read an article that my country are only allowed to 50 countries with visa free entry. And most of the countries included in the list are part of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nation) countries and countries which mostly considered as 3rd world country similar to my homeland.

I am lucky because of my work, I am able to travel in other countries because of project assignment and training. Last August 2014, my boss sent me abroad for training. The training is 4 days and the location is Dubai, United Arab Emirates. During the preparation process of my travel, this was before my final flight schedule has been arranged, I tried if I can add few more days from the original schedule plan. The end result, I was able to put additional 3 days from original 5 days travel after finding return flight which is cheaper from the original schedule.

My flight to Dubai was Sunday morning before 9AM leaving Manila and arriving in Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 through Emirates airline. The flight was 8 hours. We landed at Dubai International Airport the same day past 1:30 in the afternoon. Dubai is 4 hours behind from Manila time.

Dubai International Airport are known to be similar to Singapore International Airport because this airport becomes a hub for stop over terminal for most of international flights from Asia, America and Europe countries. It is like interchange airport. As we know that this city is booming its tourism industry for the past couple of years, Dubai Airport terminals had recent massive renovations and improvements. Terminal 3 is home of Emirates airline. Before arriving in this terminal, the only picture in my mind regarding Dubai Airport was based from what I saw in National Geographic TV show with an impression that it’s really huge. When I got off the plane and walk along the arrival terminal, I found out that it has similarity to Incheon International Airport where I need to ride a skytrain. Having a skytrain means one thing, the terminal is not just big, it’s ultimately big. Its size is massive, though I may not seen it all, but as far as what I saw, it’s not an ordinary airport. I don’t have photo souvenirs of the terminal during my arrival because I tried my best to behave myself since I am in a foreign country. I have this impression that though Dubai is popular Arab city with freedom, I kept myself in check and restrain myself on doing things that I am not sure if allowed, like taking pictures inside the terminal.

After I transferred from the terminal to concourse using skytrain, I walked straight to immigration area for passport and visa check. As I’m not used to Arab world, I was bit surprised when I saw all the immigration officers in their Muslim outfit, after seeing what officers are wearing, that was the very moment that I realized that I am really in Dubai, an Arab city. At the front of the officer, he checked my passport and requested my visa, and then a photo of myself was taken.

My luggage platform was far from the passport control check, and for this reason, I had a chance to walk for a while inside the terminal. The terminal is really big and its clean. Though one thing that I just noticed, the ambiance of the lights in overall are quite dim for me, not sure if there some reason behind it or it was the design of the lights.  I found the platform and waited for my luggage. When I found my luggage, I straight forward on my way to exit, passing the custom area easier since I just have one luggage, one laptop and hand bag. Then, I tried to look around to find some tourist information booth but unluckily I did not find brochures aside from travel company booths and information center. I approached the information center and asked if the airport cabs accepts credit card since I did not withdraw too much of cash. Someone responded to me and to my surprise, a Filipina woman talked to me in my own language. For that inquiry,  I learned that there are two types of taxi airport in Dubai, one is the ordinary which only accepts cash and black limousine cab which accepts credit card.

I exited the terminal, to my surprise I felt the hot temperature outside and that kind of heat was first time, never experienced it before, it felt very hot and very dry. I walked to the taxi lane where the limousine cab is waiting. I got in and told the driver where my hotel is. While on our way, I learned from the driver that there are lots of Filipinos working in Dubai, wherein he himself has a lot of Filipino friends. He told me as well that the current temperature at that time was around 50 degrees Celsius (that temperature is higher than the temperature of a person with fever).

From the airport to hotel it took us at least 30 minutes and there was no traffic at all. While inside the cab, I realized that Dubai is a big city and not just a city but a developed modern city. I can’t believe with my eyes that this kind of city will exist from the desert world. Though Dubai is really famous, I don’t know much about it, my idea was came from the movie of Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol where some shots were taken from the tallest tower in the world – Burj Khalifa.

Within the 30 minutes drive, most of that time were spent along Sheikh Zayed Road (named after the first president of United Arab Emirates and the principal driving force to form UAE as a country – Sheikh Zayed). Along this road, we passed a lot of towers, high-rise buildings and structures. In this road, I got a chance to glimpse the Burj Khalifa from a far and then after few more minutes I arrived at Novotel Albarsha, where I stayed for 5 nights and where the training was held.

When I entered the hotel, I saw familiar faces, I saw Filipinos working in the hotel and Filipinos whose traveling similar in my case. Some Filipinos working are assigned in concierge and some are assigned at the lobby counter. With this scenario, I felt at ease, seeing people same with my own race and nationality makes me feel comfortable in a foreign land. After processing my check-in, I went straight to my room. I checked the time and it was past 3:30 PM, since it’s still early, I thought that I can still go out for few hours to see some part of Dubai, but unfortunately, I fell asleep, time passed faster that I anticipated and I woke-up past 10 PM in the evening. Because of this, the only thing I got to do was to have dinner and to prepare myself for the first day of my training. In between the time that I arrived from the airport and from the time I fell asleep in the hotel, I was able to send messages to my college classmate and friend who currently living and working in Dubai. She is my personal contact outside work who can go help me while going around Dubai.

During my stay in Dubai, I tried my best to see places as much as I can because I don’t know if I will be able to come back. I will tell a story of all the places that I have seen so far in Dubai.  Below are the list of the places that I visited in Dubai, each day has its own posted story  to tell to distinguish the places that I had seen and experience.

Day 2 – Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dancing Fountain and Dubai Aquarium
Day 3 – WAFI City
Day 5 – Desert Safari Adventure
Day 6 – Mall of Emirates, Gold Souk and Dubai Festival City Mall (DFCM)
Day 8 – Dubai City Tour

Alberta Aviation Museum – Edmonton (Part 9)

When I arrived in Edmonton last April 2008, I used to passKingsway Avenue every time I travel from my place where I live in Downtown in Edmonton to anywhere, I used to see an airport beside this road. Before I thought it’s the city’s or town’s commercial airport,  but it seems it’s kind of small for that purpose. And one thing that I noticed, few planes are landing to or flying from this airport.Then, I asked some of my colleagues that time about the place until I understand that it’s city’s airport that I used to see is not the international airport that I was thinking of. And as far as I recall, I had a long trip from Edmonton International Airport to Downtown Edmonton, and the airport that I saw is just near in Kingsway Avenue which is just a few minutes from the place  where I lived.
Edmonton City Centre Airport is also known as Blatchfold Field Airport where Alberta  Aviation Museum which I visited is located. At the front of the museum, you can see some of plane displays as a sign that the place is an aviation museum.
 I can’t recall the name for the above plane
but the small one on its right bottom is
Boeing CIM-10B BOMARC (1958)
McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo (1957)
Most of the photos I got seems I am part of the photo, and because of that I tried to crop and modified  (see some blurry part of the photo?) photo so that things that I saw inside or outside the museum are more visible.
 Canadair CL-13 Sabre I
Beech D18S-3NM Expeditor (1952)
De Havilland Mosquito B.35 (representing FB.VI) (1943)
There are more planes that I saw but I haven’t got of their pictures to show here. One of the unique things I experienced was when my buddy and I enter in Boeing 737-200 (1972), airplane, it is similar to the commercial plane we used to ride. And we were able to get inside the pilots area.
Inside Wester AirPlane (Boeing 737-200 (1972))
This plane above, I can’t recall the name, so spare me for this one.
There are more planes to see in the aviation museum, and the great thing about it, it displays earlier airplanes that we may not be able to see flying anymore in our current time because they are now just part of aviation history.

After enjoying the tour inside the museum I bought some souvenirs as my remembrance from this museum.

I hope you enjoy this little story of mine about my tour in Aviation Museum in Edmonton Alberta, Canada which happened last June 7, 2008.

Last Hours in Canada – Vancouver Airport

After my half-day and last tour in British Columbia which was the North Shore Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain, my bus tour dropped me off at Vancouver Airport which located at Richmond. Here I met my colleagues assigned in Vancouver team and another one assigned in Toronto team.

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All the three of us took sometime to catch-up for everything happened to us while staying in Canada, we chat about who were the people that we met in the team, who we thought were really good in their job, who looks good, who was accommodating and a lot of stuff. We spent sometime to walk a little bit around the airport and we took some photo of us and the place as our memories. All of us told each other how we were really going to miss this beautiful country of Canada and all of us wished if we can go back again.