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Nanaimo had a rather slow pace, it felt almost worn out rather than laid back. We initially missed the town altogether, by walking down to the extensive marina, and when we did locate it, there was a definite feeling of lassitude. The boat in the harbour that has, apparently, the best Fish & Chips ever was shut for renovation to refit it for compliance with fire regulations, so we walked up into the main area of town, then down from the centre along a kind of High Street that had a fantastic second-hand bookshop with an extensive collection of tomes related to the First Nations and Vancouver Island. There were about half a dozen books I would have loved to have bought, including a coffee table sized book on Eskimo Art, and it was only with the utmost restraint that I was able to not buy it. The town also has loads of charmless and faceless shopping malls dotted about the place, a real feature of north American life which has sadly spread to Britain.

When we were in Nanaimo, a rather grumpy drunk-looking person called after us after I briefly met his eye, and I am sure that alcoholism and drug problems abound; indeed, I know that for certain, because it was mentioned several times at the First Nation panels at the conference in Vancouver. I would love to find out more about the First Nation peoples who live around here, and the kinds of challenges they face.

Nanaimo is home to a large Chinese community.  The cultural differences were there in the B & B   which was comfortable, but rather spartan.  It was run by a friendly Chinese guy and his family and, although everything was pleasant with lovely views across the ocean, it had a slightly functional feel to it, lacking aesthetic appeal. As we approached the front door the lovely acer was shrouded in a metal wire jacket – we were not sure of its purpose but the beauty of the acer was lost in it.  Also, in the apartment itself there were industrial size bottles of shampoo in the bathroom, as well as large tins of coffee and tea in the kitchen, all beautifully and clearly labelled. Helpful but hardly charming or appealing!

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