Hidden Richmond | 13th September 2011 | 20:43 PDT

When people talk about Richmond in Vancouver they're less than impressed by the area and I agree, there's no real reason to go there unless you're a fan of box malls, industrial estates and vast expanse of residential nothingness.

My kind of place then, hitching a ride on the Skytrain, I head to Richmond to have a look around and to my surprise I found a few hidden gems within its city limits.

Rufus Lin Gallery
It's very difficult to find, as the gallery is within the Pacific business centre the most corporate and uncreative place for a gallery to reside, you enter through into the artistic space on the top floor of the other side of the planet, you realise that all that searching and finding was worth it as the calming effect of the deep red walls seep in and gives you a 'wrapped in a duvet' feeling.

Felt like having a warm chocolate bath

In this gallery, you're greeted by happy staff that are amazed you made it there, nothing has a price tag as nothing it for sale, it's all about displaying contemporary Japanese art and and nothing else, it is one of only a handful that exist outside of Japan. Best of all, admission is free!

Rooms were filled with colourful, bright, positive, happy art. Even a piece called 'Sending off the spirit of dead people', looked enlightening with its late sunset colours. Other pieces ranged from POPartesque to fine art detailed acrylics to pen and paper Manga to Chigiri-e, (watercoloured looking pictures made from tiny bits of torn paper) to clay sculptures of confectionery and jewellery, rabbit dolls, decorated flip flops and other completely random things.

Close up of Chigiri-e

I leave hugely satisfied and walk south for an hour to find the...

International Buddhist Society
As the name would suggest, it's a temple for Buddhism, When you're walking through low lying residential area and you come to the end of the road, there it is, just there, appearing from seemingly nowhere and bigger than you expect it to be. It was lavishly decorated with fantastic sculptures of the gods, pristine oriental garden with a sweat smell of incense burning in the air.

Welcoming Gardens

Heading into the main courtyard, known as Worshipping Square, I was met with a big surprise lurking inside a pavilion. My jaw dropped and shattered on the floor as I faced a huge 20ft golden statue looming over you of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva that was amazingly detailed in every way, with a large hand painted mural on the back wall, one of the largest in the world.

Worshipping Square

Inside the main temple, chanting of monks and another giant statue adds to my already very spiritual mood. I wanted to explore further around as I only saw half it, but unfortunately the rest of temple such as the mediation hall, was closed due to construction. Damn.

I leave hugely spiritual and walk south for an hour to find the...

Nothing like walking down a long empty farmyard road to boost morale

London Heritage Farm
This is 4 acre piece of land with it's original 1880s farmhouse and barn is the remnants of a 200 acre farmland, that was once owned and cultivated by the London family that moved from Ontario to Richmond back in 1877.

This is a cosy and charming place to see, with its herb and rose gardens, chicken coops, bee hives, allotments, learn about the fundamental techniques of farming and after walking a few hours around Richmond, I looked forward to enjoying a very English cream tea in the original farmhouse, but it was shut that day... Oh well, be British, don't complain about it and carry on.

The farm, small but perfectly formed

Good times to be had off the beaten track, the problem is that Richmond lies under sea level, which of course can have no disastrous effect whatsoever in the future in this earthquake prone area so, I'm glad I got to see all these places when I did before they float away.

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