Bus Tour 10 – Ginseng and Wine

We started the last day of our Rocky Mountain Bus Tour at an early, early hour. Was it 6am? Something like that. We didn’t go back to the WK Garden for a 3rd meal. Thank goodness. That would have really done me in. Instead, we headed down the Trans-Canada Highway to Sicamous about an hour away. We pulled into the Husky gas station. Western breakfast? Sort of…

Breakfast at the Husky in Sicamous

So this was a Husky gas station on the side of Highway 1. There was a restaurant attached with a selection of Chinese food and Western food on the menu. But I swear the owner had a Korean accent. We were served congee with Chinese donut floating in it. Then came some eggs and sausage. Okay. What does this restaurant want to be exactly? I’m confused. In any case, I was happy enough to be having breakfast here instead of the WK Garden in Revelstoke.

As we went to board the bus, I noticed that there was flurry of semi-trucks pulling in and out of the gas stations giant lot. They were all labelled with the big shipping company names – UPS, FedEx, and DHL. I asked our driver, Marilyn, if she knew what was going on here. She told me that truck drivers have a limit on how far and long they can drive. It turns out that Sicamous is perfectly positioned as a huge changeover location for these trucks. So semis will drop their load here for another semi to pick up.

Majestic Ginseng in Kamloops

We continued west along the Trans-Canada Highway for about 1.5 hours to Kamloops. In Kamloops, we circled up to an industrial district near Thompson Rivers University’s campus. Our destination here in Kamloops was a ginseng factory. Kamloops and its surroundings are home to one of Canada’s ginseng producing areas. Ginseng is a popular gift among Chinese, but it’s definitely not cheap.

Ginseng crates

We split up our tour group into Mandarin and Cantonese speakers. It was just easier to run the tour through the facility that way. Our factory guide told us about the different places in the world that produce ginseng. Apparently each place produces a different kind of ginseng with different herbal/medicinal effects. She also told us how to pick a good piece of ginseng and how best to cook ginseng. I’m not particularly interested in ginseng. So much of the information went in one ear and out the other.

Spring bloom in Kamloops

I was a little more interested in the trees blooming on the property of the ginseng factory. So were a lot of my other fellow travellers. Many of us had our cameras focused on the tiny little blooms. If you were lucky, you could even get a photo with a bee on a petal.

the tiny buds of spring

After Kamloops, we headed south down the Coquihalla Highway. We returned to Tropico Spice in Merritt for our Chinese lunch. It was about the same as it was a few days ago.

After lunch, we continued down the Coquihalla and rejoined the Trans-Canada Highway in Hope. After a Tuesday afternoon highway traffic jam and pit stop in Langley, we were bound for Richmond. I didn’t realize that our last stop of the tour would be in Richmond of all places.

Along the way, we took the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) between the Trans-Canada Highway in Surrey and the Alex Fraser Bridge. The SFPR has only been opened up for a short time now. It was my first time ever on this stretch of road. The SFPR has really sped up connections between Highway 1, the Alex Fraser Bridge, the Massey Tunnel, and the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. I was not a big fan of this road’s construction when it was built because it promoted more motordom and destroyed part of Burns Bog. However, after travelling it, I can really see the benefit for moving traffic between the multiple Fraser River crossings and the Ferry Terminal. However, I’m still not happy that they had to destroy part of a unique ecosystem to have it done.

After making a wrong turn in and around Annacis Island, we finally got onto the Westminster Highway in Richmond. I can’t believe how bad traffic is in these parts of Metro Vancouver. I know people complain about traffic being bad in the city itself, but I think it’s much worse in the suburbs (and people want to vote No to helping transit in the region?).

Lulu Island Winery

We finally arrived at Lulu Island Winery after crawling west along Westminster Highway. I had always seen the ads at the airport for this winery. And I’ve always thought to myself how could there be a decent winery in Richmond. So I was biased against this winery from the beginning. It is definitely a winery that seems to dedicate much of their marketing to Chinese tourists.

Now, I’m by no means a wine connoisseur. I did taste some of the wines and didn’t feel that it was anything special. I would have to ask one of my more wine savvy friends or coworkers to help me out with this one. It’s interesting to note that the BC Liquor Store doesn’t even carry much Lulu Island on their shelves. Is that a reflection of the quality or just consumer demand? I’m not sure.

After my fellow travellers bought themselves a good deal of wine, we loaded onto the bus for one last time. Our bus had to make several drop-offs before we ended our trip back at Metrotown in Burnaby.

So what do you think we had for dinner? Haha. We had Chinese food!! However, it was a really good meal at the Shanghai Elan Restaurant at Crystal Mall in Burnaby. Oh it was good to have some Vancouver-quality Chinese food again. Now that was a good meal on which to end our Rocky Mountain Bus Tour.

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