Tea Leaf Reading at Silk Road

How much do you know about tea leaf reading? I have done it once up in Nanaimo, but I barely remember what was said. The fortune teller told me a lot about my fortune, but the time she spent on the tea leaf reading was less than 2 minutes.

So I was pretty curious when I first heard about Silk Road in downtown Victoria was offering Tea Leaf Reading. The owner of Silk Road, Daniela is a lovely friend of mine and she was generous enough to offer me a session with Rachel, Silk Road’s resident Tea Leaf Reader. Read more

Race to the End of the Earth

Race to the end of the Earth

About 100 years ago, two explorers from two different countries, Norway and England, unintentionally ended up racing to the end of the earth -The South Pole. Only one came back.

British explorer Robert Falcon Scott set sail aboard Terra Nova on June 1, 1910 from London. His goal was to reach the South Pole. Meanwhile, only a week later, on June 7, Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s ship Fram set sail from Christiania(Now Oslo). When Scott arrived in Melborne, Australia, he received a telegram from Amundsen informing him of Fram‘s decision to proceed to Antarctica. Let the race begin!

We were lucky enough to attend the special “behind-the-scenes” preview of their latest exhibition, Race to the End of the Earth at the Royal BC Museum. How often do you get to see all the people preparing for an exhibit?

Take a card

When you enter the exhibit, you will see a booth to pick a card. Each card will feature a member from either British or Norwegian expedition team. This is whom I got. Birdie Bowers – The Jack-of-All-Trades.

Birdie Bowers

It was fascinating to see all the preperation for the exhibition. But what’s more amazing to me, personally, was to meet Jana Stefan, Conservator and Exhibit Arts Echnician at Royal BC Museum. Jana has been to Antarctica twice. How cool is that?

Jana Stefan

Here she talked about Scott’s hut which still exists in Antarctica- the cold and dry weather is ideal to preserve everything pretty much as is. She has also advised American Museum of Natural History of creating this exact replica of Scott’s hut.

Scott's hut

The exhibit will navigate you through the details of the expedition – “the worst journey in the world” – including original artifacts such as Norwegian team’s sledges, Amundsen’s own chronometer and shotgun. You can also learn about the difficulties of using a compass in Antarctica in an interactive exhibit that allows the visitor to see the dramatic “dip” of a compass needle as it nears the magnetic South Pole.


You don’t have to be a history buff to get excited about this incredible story. This is about exploration – about visiting a place few of us will ever get to visit. It’s also about dynamic story about two different men – Scott and Amundsen. They could have not been more different from each other.

The apple

The last section will feature “Antarctica today” – here Jana and her efforts to preserve the world’s most remote historic sites are featured. Also on display are present-day garments issued to personnel going to Antarctica and “The Apple”, prefabricated igloo that can be transported by helicopters!

We already know who won the race – Amundsen arrived at the South Pole on December 14. Scott arrived five weeks later only to find Norwegian flag already at the pole. I cannot imagine how Scott must have felt there. This is such an incredible story and it is absolutely worth it to go see. I cannot wait to go back again with my family.

Royal BC Museum will be the only Canadian stop for Race to the End of the Earth. The exhibition was designed and produced by the American Museum of the Natural History in New York, in collaboration with the Royal BC Museum and the Musée des Confluence in Lyon, France.

Race to the End of the Earth opened on May 17, and continues until October 14, 2013.

You can learn more about the exhibition at Royal BC Museum website.


Few weeks ago, Mark and I went to see Hanafuda Denki by Ryuzanji company, from Japan, as part of Victoria Fringe Festival. Hanafuda Denki – The Tale Of Playing Cards is written by Japanese avant-garde writer Shuji Terayama and first performed in 1967. In short, it’s a Japanese Nightmare Before Christmas—set in a funeral house, almost everyone in the show is dead. It was hilarious, fascinating and a fantastical kind of Threepenny Opera. We loved it so much I saw it twice and Mark saw it three times. We started following Ryuzanji Company on Twitter and Facebook. I bought their T-shirt and I even offered to help out with promotion should they come to Victoria again. We became huge fans.

When I bought the T-shirt, I got the opportunity to talk with Yumi, one of the actors in the troupe. I asked her many questions. Their show was so tight, I figured they must have been playing for a long time. She said they have played Hanafuda before but this is their second run as they tweaked this show for the World Tour. She said, “We still have meeting after each show. There is always a room for improvement.”

One of the reasons I loved them so much was that their performance was in the state of the art. Two shows I saw were word-for-word, movement-for-movement, exactly the same. Both performances were so strong, and they talk and move with such confidence, it grabs you from your seat and sucks you into their world of the dead. They were pros.

Even after they left Victoria, I was reading their Japanese blog to see how they are doing at the Vancouver Fringe festival. In one of their blog posts, they wrote about traveling theatre. “That’s what performers used to do. They traveled town to town, performing their arts… ”

Following Ryuzanji’s activities, I felt a weird desire. It’s similar to what I feel when I go to local fairs and see the carnies. The urge to leave my job and family and join the circus?

Of course, I’m old enough to know travelling all the time won’t be as fun as it seems. It will drive me crazy not to have a permanent home. To live out of a suitcase. Heck, I know people who do that in my industry. And I don’t envy them.

What I’m feeling is an irresponsible wanderlust. An escape from the ordinary life. An excitement of a non-routine. To live a little on the edge.

I think it’s a sign I’ve been here a little too long. Time to plan some trips. Find a circus. Escape to the big top and have an adventure.

Queen Elizabeth II /Dinosaur Exhibit at Royal BC Museum—30DBC Day 5

I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview of Queen Elizabeth II  By Cecil Beaton: Diamond Jubilee Collection today at Royal BC Museum.

Sir Cecil Beaton was a renowned fashion photographer. One day he gets a phone call, “…The Queen wants to know if you will photograph her tomorrow afternoon.”

“At first I thought it might be a practical joke . . . but it was no joke.” The now late Queen Mother had seen the flamboyant fashion photographer’s work for Vogue magazine, prompting the call. (Excerpt from Royal BC Museum) 

The exhibit is filled with interesting anecdotes from Sir Beaton’s diary. Even I, who don’t have a lot of knowledge on British Monarchy, found it interesting.
There are some rare images – this one here is one of my favourite. (Click to enlarge)
Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: Diamond Jubilee Collection is open until September 3, 2012.
We also got to see Dinosaur exhibit.

I have a toddler so we’ve been very excited about this. I remember my older son enjoying Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit at RBCM back in 1999. I have always been curious how museums pick their exhibits to show each year. Obviously, it is a long process. I was told something big is in the works as well.

This Dinosaur exhibit was curated and designed at Museum of Natural History. New technologies are helping scientists  learn more about this fascinating creatures. There are a lot of hands-on activities for kids, as well as fascinating dioramas and footages on new discoveries. I was told the diorama contained about 400 or so species, but everything was extinct except for one thing. (It was a kind of a reed that is stil around.) Amazing, isn’t it?

Very well put exhibit. I highly recommend you check it out before it’s gone.

Dinosaur is open until September 16, 2012.

Special thanks to Eric Espig of RBCM.

For more info, please visit Royal BC Museum Website.