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What’s happening a week into the National Youth Pipe Band of New Zealand’s trip to Canada?

Band member Caleb Ung fills us in:

After an excruciatingly long wait in Auckland International Airport (including delays), and a flight that felt like decades, we finally touched down in the sunny city of Vancouver. Everyone was groggy and tired after being cooped up arm and arm with fellow bandmates on the plane. Sure – it was a good bonding experience, but there are much better ways to know each other. After we arrived and settled into our accommodation in Vancouver, everyone either went to Dennys or a stroll the opposite way to explore and get some Canadian grub. It was good craic and there were lots of happy, smiling, excited faces all around, which was great. But that all went away when we were told what time we had to wake up for practices the next day (7am Breakfast opening).

A few days later, and after a 5 hour bus trip up to Penticton or to some people Penticon (Daniel Liu), we arrived at the Sandman and were excited to be in a new place. While the pool was only 3 feet deep, it still allowed everyone to get in and have fun splashing around. The practice grounds at Kings Parks were lovely, the grass was lush and green and the shady spots were ideal for practice and relaxing with an Irn Bru or a Root Beer.

We performed a concert to open the Penticton Highland Games in absolutely sweltering temperatures exceeding 35 degrees. As the pitch of the pipes went up and the buckets of sweat began pouring off people’s faces, we performed our concert sets to a lovely audience of spirited and keen Canadians. Competition and Solo day went great as we came away with the trophy for Grade Two and all the glory that came with it. We may have been the only band in that grade but it was good craic. That afternoon after a delicious dinner at the burger bar along the beach we met up with RMM Pipe Band and all made some new friends. We got a nice head start as we had Piping Hot Summer Drummer the next day with them.

The drive up to PHSD was awesome, a particular highlight was going to a huge supermarket to restock our supplies and refuel for the week ahead. Shelves of food went as far as my eyes could see and I would estimate it was about ten times bigger than your typical New World back home. Everyone got some good food which prepared us for the remainder of the journey. We arrived on the mountain at 12:30pm when Jack Lee specifically said 11a, – whoops! – so it was already pretty packed when we entered the hall. Sam Foote, Ash, and Ben Blackburn all got called out for forgetting their kilts by J. Reid Maxwell and was by far the biggest highlight for me (Reid is Ash’s idol). The night of our second concert was great – all the seats were taken and everyone played amazingly well (not me as I was sick but present). That night majority went to the Bulldog which was chokka block and required a bit of push and shove to get through the place. Personally, I went to the other bar with the boys and got some Poutine to take away as minors under the age of 19 weren’t allowed to be in there. Later that night we went back to the Bulldog and the talent show was still going. It was good craic and Micheal Peyroux came away with a 2nd place and $50 in hand which was cool. It was a shame everyone had to be back in their rooms by 11pm but its fair as the bears are huge trouble around these parts and sadly two got put down just last night.