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Centre de Recherches Mathématiques — Part 3

May 26, 2012

It’s not the first time I’m traveling to Canada, but this is the first time, I used the public transportation to travel around in a city of Canada.  As such, I need a communication with my wife on a cell phone.  My prepaid T-Mobile, will cost about US$5 or US$10 for each 1-minute call (or even SMS message).  That is ridiculously expensive.  My wife is carrying the monthly paid iPhone and even with US$5.99 World Traveler’s monthly subscription, I only managed to reduce each roaming phone call/SMS from US$3.19 to US$1.99.

But I have to say searching for a prepaid Canadian SIM card was not easy.  I was told to go to PETRO Canada and even though I stopped by a small gas station along highway 401 in Quebec, the cashier there said they didn’t have it.  Then as I was walking along Cotes des-Negeis, we spotted a Fido Shop!  Unfortunately, it was not opened yet–too early in the morning.  The next day, we took a STM subway to rue Saint Catherine and chanced upon another Fido shop that speaks Cantonese!  After talking and getting information, I was told the cheapest SIM card would cost me CAN$25.  So I happily asked for one and they asked for my address in Canada.  I gave the hotel address and was about to settle this when the lady behind the counter asked

“Don’t you want to buy minutes for this SIM card?”

“Huh?  It doesn’t come with minutes?”

So in the end, I threw in another CAN$10 for talk time which I was told would be 35cents per min or per SMS message and call to USA would be more than $2 each. With tax, the SIM card cost me more than CAN$40.   All-in-all, if I call my wife on her cell phone, it would not last me more than five minutes and on top of that I have to pay US$1.99 er call on the other side for my AT&T monthly paid phone.  Nevertheless, I bought that card reluctantly.

Next day, I parted with my wife at Station Snowdon.  She went to Bio Dome in Station Viau, I changed to the blue line to go to CRM (to go to Station Universite-de-Montreal):

I have to be extremely frugal with my Fido SIM card phone and so in CRM I logged on to my Yahoo account with my laptop and SMSed to her on her AT&T phone instead.  Then in the afternoon, my daughter got really sick (and my laptop has no internet access), she called me on my Fido phone and said she’d go straight back to the hotel and not to bother meeting her in Station Lionel-Groulx or Station Viau after my seminar.  So that’s how my Fido SIM card was used.

When I came down from at the end of the seminar in the afternoon, I found that it’s not enough the drink machine has its colourful ad on the machine, they have to put something on the floor too.  Ugly.

Ad on the floor as well?

I still want to go to Chinatown for food.  I like to eat on the rows of table that has a real live bird permanently on the last table (the cheapest place to eat in Rue de la Gauchetière near Boulevard St. Laurent)

And it is opposite a store that continuously played Teresa Teng songs.

I bet they have been doing that since the death of Teresa in May 1995.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love her songs just not continuously.  She has way too many songs and spread over too many genres.

Montreal gave my wife a very European feeling.  There are violinist and base players on Mount Royal, playing music in a place where joggers and bicyclist mingle:

I joked and said they should get students to play in Mount Faber which I used to run up, and laughed at how the players have to cope with the heat.  Then I heard that the government actually got foreigners to fly into Singapore to do that.  I still wonder how they cope with the heat.  Singapore must have built a shade and air-con-ed it just for that.  It’s not just street musicians, they also flew in jugglers, and other street performers too.

Montreal is also extremely anti American.  On rue BERRI near to Station Sherbrooke, there were huge graffiti “F__k CAPITALISM, F___k USA”.  And on rue Saint-Denis, between Sherbrooke and Berri0UQAM, “SUBWAY Sandwich” and Quiznos Sub have significantly a lot more graffiti then any other store.

They generally do not like speaking English or Americans.  So you’d have to ask politely “Excuse me, do you speak English?”  Then answer is generally “Non”, but after a few minutes, someone will reluctantly speak to you in almost perfect English.  If your store has names like “Nappoli Pizza”

Literally no graffiti.

or “Les Couleurs Du Ciel”

No graffiti

Or “les Mains Folles…”

No graffiti boutique.

Then nobody will vandalize it.  Otherwise have Chinese characters like

“小肥羊” or  “川湘情” or something unAmeirican.

Anyway, at the end of the trip, I got a parking ticket of CAN$52 for parking on rue Saint-Denis.  But when I parked it it looked like this:

Cars on both sides, very hard to find parking.

Who would’ve thought it’s no parking from 0800 hrs to 0900 hrs on Lundi au Vendredi?  On the morning I checked out, my car was the only car parked on a very busy traffic street.  And I got a parking fine.  But given that, and the strong anti-American sentiment here, I still love Montreal.

I just need to brush up on my French before my next trip here.  Otherwise, I feel like the sculpture at the corner of Sherbrooke Street and Saint Denis Street:

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