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Is Jack Keaton’s Closed?

It feels like February is the month where a lot of my blog's plotlines are tying themselves up. First, there was confirmation from the City of Regina that the glockenspiel I was vying for will finally begin construction, then there was a major update on the cemetery walking tours (coming soon) and now there's something going on with Jack Keaton's. As interesting as this all is, I will be excited when my travel blog can go back to being about, well, travel. I'm sure you will be too. Thankfully we have some adventures at the end of the month that will be a nice change of pace.

For those who don't recall my episode with Jack Keaton's BBQ and Bar, about a year and a half ago (October 2018) I had an online disagreement with the owner of the restaurant. I was attempting to collaborate with them, but they decided to shut down all communications and essentially "ghost" me. After months of ignored emails, I wrote a negative review on their Facebook page, stating that the management was hard to work with. The owner replied and angrily responded, after a brief exchange of words, that I should "get off my ass" and come to his restaurant.

So I did, and I did a review on it and it was not a positive one.

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Taste-Testing Regina's First Jollibee

Although Jollibee was founded in 1978 in the Philippines, it isn't well-known in the West. Appearance-wise, it is a mix between KFC and McDonald's. Their mascot – Jollibee – is a red, anthropomorphic bee, inspired by the friendliness of Mickey Mouse. They have several other mascots too, much like McDonald's, but Jollibee is the main figurehead.

The restaurant opened its first Regina location (2830 Quance Street) in December 2019 and had people camped outside prior to opening day. I can't think of a single restaurant in Regina where this has happened before. Jollibee only has approximately 1,200 (no, I didn't miss a zero there) restaurants worldwide so for it to pick Regina is a testament to our city's diversity and the booming Filipino community.

I know many new restaurants have hiccups when they first open, so I gave Jollibeea little over a month before I visited. I ended up going on a cold, blustery winter night, and I wish I had gone in the daytime to get a better picture of the outside of the building. From what I could see in the pitch blackness, the building was white and grey with white letters on it. There was also a statue of Jollibee outside, welcoming people in, similar to McDonald's and their benches with Ronald McDonald. The statue really surprised me, as it isn't something a lot of fast-food restaurants have.  

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Review of the Regina Airport Hotel

I have stayed at the Home Inn Express twice in the past – once before going fishing, and another on my way to Lethbridge. Both times it was in Medicine Hat, and both times I had excellent service. The room looked the same both times so either I had the same room, or the visitor experience is universal.

Last year I had fellow blogger Jeanine, from Jsask's Mom's Blog, contact me and ask where she should stay in Regina for Country Thunder. Since the Regina version, the Home Inn & Suites – Regina Airport, is only minutes away from the airport, I recommended they stay there.

But, I felt a little guilty recommending the hotel. I've only been to the Medicine Hat variant, not our own, and decided I had to change that. I reached out to the hotel and arranged a room after the holiday rush was over for Jessica's and I's anniversary in early January.

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My 2019 In Review

With the twilight of 2019 upon us, I thought I'd recap a year of ups, downs, achievements, failures and lots and lots of blogging. To start things off, when I entered this year, I had the goal of making "Kenton de Jong Travel" my own personal version of Tourism Regina. After Tourism Regina and I broke ties in 2018, I thought I would take the opportunity to cover more local events and festivals without worrying about stepping on their toes.  

But, going forward into 2020 I think I will dial that back a bit. It wasn't received as well as I had hoped so I'll be looking at what to do different next year. For those who missed them, some of the local events I covered this year included:

I really wanted to cover The Trial of Louis Riel and Mosaic: A Festival of Cultures too, but both of those fell through this year. My trip to Coleman, Alberta also fell through, which is too bad, but hopefully, I can go next year.

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Reviewing Authentic Dutch Christmas Candy

It would probably astound you how many people pronounce my last name wrong. If they're spelling it out, they will probably spell it wrong too. Whenever somebody looks for my name up in a computer, it usually takes several attempts. Is there a space? No space? Try searching just "Jong"? I get weekly emails and letters addressed to "Mr. Jong" all the time. Potential employers even admitted they were surprised to see me walk through the doors, as I am as far away as an Asian man as one can get.

But in a small country on the coast of Europe, my last name is as common as North America's "Smith". In fact, "de Jong" is the most popular last name in the Netherlands, and I have a lot of extended family living out there. As fate would have it, earlier this year I was even lucky enough to meet one of these relatives while she was in Regina.

As a gift, I mailed her a FLAT Bunnyhug, and she mailed me back a box of various Dutch chocolates and candy. I've always enjoyed trying sweets from other countries, so I figured I would make an article about them.  

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What to See With 24 Hours in Calgary

It's been a few years since I last visited Calgary, but all previous trips were either with the Canadian Junior Football League (go Thunder!) or for various concerts. Although this time it was for my "day job", I still made sure to give myself some extra time to see the city before I left.

I've heard a lot about Calgary since high school. One by one I saw my friends move there and start new lives. Since I had some extra time to explore the city, I was interested to see what Calgary had to offer, and what made the draw so impressive.

Although Calgary was a nice city, it wasn't the best day to explore. The windchill was around -20 Celsius, the sky was cloudy, a snow squall was forming, and the streets were empty. (And I only had my phone camera with me, ouch!) My friend Muna, who was acting as my guide, told me that the city was in a recession and that a lot of businesses were hurting financially – although you wouldn't know it by all the high-rise buildings they keep constructing. I didn't see a lot of foot traffic when we were there, but it was also an ugly day out. What I was surprised to see, however, was although it was cold and windy, there was still a lot going on. We spent a bit of time on Calgary's main pedestrian shopping street – 8th Avenue Southwest – and we saw a mini outdoor concert, an Elsa and Anna cosplay and a half dozen enclosed firepits. These little firepits were burning freshly cut wood so the whole street smelt like a campfire.

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Christmas Gifts for the Traveller in Your Life

Is there a traveller in your life? Somebody who loves exploring new places, trying new foods, driving long distances for a picture and who will yammer on and on about their travels if you let them?

For the first time in Kenton de Jong Travel history I decided to put together a list of gifts you can get the traveller in your life. Many of these gifts I own, so I can testify that they are worth investing in.

Many of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you buy the products I recommend, I may get a little financial kickback.

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Must See Things for Your Toronto Bucket List

Toronto is one of the most vibrant cities in the world and is home to a mix of cultures unlike anywhere else in Canada. It is the personification of Canada's proverbial mixing-pot. Toronto is comprised of six different districts, each its own unique neighbourhood. Much like the people who live in Toronto, the areas of Toronto are just as diverse.

With so much to do and see, many travellers are overwhelmed. If you're in town or passing through, here are some sights near Toronto that should be on your bucket list:

Toronto is proud of its arts and has one of the most progressive music scenes in the world. In fact, it's impossible to visit the city without sampling this iconic music scene. If you are a musicophile and you want to take in a live music performance or opera in Toronto, you will want to visit the Roy Thomson Hall.

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Exploring Moose Jaw's Abandoned Zoo

Before you read this article and freak out over the amount of snow you're about to see, I want to clarify that I took these pictures last March. Moose Jaw had a lot more snow than they do at the time of publishing this. I just postponed the article to prevent you from any winter PTSD during the summer months.

The Moose Jaw Wild Animal Park opened in 1929 as a 540-acre zoo. It contained over 200 types of animals from across Canada and the northwestern United States. For almost eighty years the zoo was in operation, educating visitors on different animals and environmental preservation. It started with bison, bears and wolves, and eventually expanded to include more exotic animals such as lions. It was difficult to get numbers, but it had an average attendance of almost a million people per year.

All this ended in 1995 when the zoo failed to gain the necessary liability insurance. On September 28, 1995, the Environment and Resource Management shut down the zoo. In 1997 the zoo's property was sold to the City of Moose Jaw for $1, with the provincial government providing a $50,000 grant to restore the area.

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Did I Really Eat Dog in Mexico?

They say "When in Rome do as the Romans do", so the same logic should also apply to Mexico, right?

That was what I was thinking when I sat down in a classy Mexican restaurant a few weeks ago. The following morning would be the wedding -- the main reason I went to Mexico -- so this meal was to get acquainted with traditional Mexican drinks and dishes. As I was pouring over the menu trying to decipher it, the man beside me pointed out the "Tacos" section. I knew what a taco was, so it seemed like a safe place to order from. He then ran through the types of tacos on the menu. One was beef, one was shrimp and the other was dog.

I had to stop him. "Dog? Really?" Yes. It was three dog tacos. I decided then that if dog was what was commonly served in Mexico, then it's something I should try. When in Rome, right?

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Christmas Gifts for the Traveller in Your Life

Is there a traveller in your life? Somebody who loves exploring new places, trying new foods, driving long distances for a picture and who will yammer on and on about their travels if you let them?

For the first time in Kenton de Jong Travel history I decided to put together a list of gifts you can get the traveller in your life. Many of these gifts I own, so I can testify that they are worth investing in.

Many of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you buy the products I recommend, I may get a little financial kickback.

Read More

Exploring Moose Jaw's Abandoned Zoo

Before you read this article and freak out over the amount of snow you're about to see, I want to clarify that I took these pictures last March. Moose Jaw had a lot more snow than they do at the time of publishing this. I just postponed the article to prevent you from any winter PTSD during the summer months.

The Moose Jaw Wild Animal Park opened in 1929 as a 540-acre zoo. It contained over 200 types of animals from across Canada and the northwestern United States. For almost eighty years the zoo was in operation, educating visitors on different animals and environmental preservation. It started with bison, bears and wolves, and eventually expanded to include more exotic animals such as lions. It was difficult to get numbers, but it had an average attendance of almost a million people per year.

All this ended in 1995 when the zoo failed to gain the necessary liability insurance. On September 28, 1995, the Environment and Resource Management shut down the zoo. In 1997 the zoo's property was sold to the City of Moose Jaw for $1, with the provincial government providing a $50,000 grant to restore the area.

Read More