NC Mountains USA Day one of two…

We are in the Pisgah National Forest of Western North Carolina. Crabtree Falls. This hike is about one mile round trip.

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We came across a mother bear and her three cubs raiding a dumpster. Do not get out of the car or run from the bear if you encounter them…

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Day two next….

 

Washington DC

There is only one way to see the sights in Washington DC and that is by bicycle, we loaded up and headed to the National Mall.

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The Smithsonian…

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At lunch time we rode into China Town just a few blocks away. Not bad, roast duck soup and fried noodle at the NEW BIG WONG…

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Lincoln Memorial…

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Baltimore MD, USA

Despite recent unrest and riots, Baltimore is a beautiful city. The following are a few of the people and places we visited this past week. Bring a bicycle.

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A “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” museum and “Hard Rock” screams tourist trap and the Inner Harbor is no exception. Worth a short look but venture out a little further to get a better feel of what this city is about.

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The Washington Monument on Charles St. could once be seen from the harbor but is now shadowed by hi-rise buildings.balitmore2015

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We were within walking distance of Gertrude’s located in the Baltimore Museum of Art. Chef John Shields makes it all worth while and so does our beautiful waitress…

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We pass by this beautiful church…

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Up on top of Federal Hill park the Mom’s flock around with their babies… Great view of the harbor from here.
balitmore2015-46Fells Point is an old port restored to it’s former glory…

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We stop here for lunch with this fellow…

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North of the harbor on Charles Street is Tapas Teatro… Outside dinning…

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Across the street …

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Fort McHenry (Wiki)

Fort McHenry: Each morning the 15 star flag is raised with the help of who ever is around. This
flag flew during the War of 1812. This war between the US States and Britain settle a few minor differences that were not settled during the Revolutionary War.

 

 

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Inner Harbor

  1. Hard Rock, Aquarium, Parking
  2. Fells Point
  3. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
  4. Federal Hill
  5. Fort McHenry

Balitmore HarborNext Washington DC by Bicycle…

Saigon, they hate us here…

It is the early 1970’s, a young Richard sits on the living room floor watching a live broadcast on TV, it’s the American Draft Board pulling birth dates which will determine who goes to war, his mother sobs quietly behind on the couch. All birthdays assigned to a number 200 or less have to go to war, Richard’s birth date is assigned to the number 195. Richard has one week to report to the recruitment center, eight weeks later he is fighting and killing communists in Vietnam.

Fast-forward forty-five years later and I am traveling with that same Richard back to Vietnam on business, this is my first trip to Saigon and this is Richard’s second trip to what is now known as Ho Chi Minh City.

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We duck into a small bar, Richard still remembers some of his Vietnamese and orders us a beer. The Waitress asks where are we from. Richard holds up his hand to me and replies, “We are from Canada.” I didn’t say anything at first and just waited. The beers will do the talking.

“They hate us here.” Richard finally said. “They hate all Americans.”

After a few more beers we walk outside, Richard points out some of the sites and places he remembers when this city use to be called Saigon. Richard told me how he use to count his verified kills, he stopped after 22, said it was a stupid insane way of trying to maintain his sanity.

“That park over there.” Richard points. “Spent my last days protecting helicopters as they came flying in like dragonflies air lifting American solders to safety, we left thousands of women and children behind.” Richard pauses for a second. “I’m embarrassed and ashamed to tell these people I’m an American.”

I had to think about that for a while.

The Vietnamese called it the American War, the US called it the Vietnam War and in 1975 the US abandoned the South Vietnamese to end the US involvement in the war that lasted nearly 10 years. North Vietnam troops quickly over took the south and killed and tortured millions.

Today Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City is a beautiful place, the people are friendly and a visit here is well worth the effort.

For the next several days and on several occasions people did ask where I was from, I didn’t experience any resentment when I told them I was from the US but at times I continued to keep up the pretense that I was from Canada. Most people just smiled and nodded and nothing more.

Am I ashamed or embarrassed of being an American? I have to think about that for a while…

Ho Chi Minh City is a modern city and although a Communist country it has poised itself ready and able for the 21st century.

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But i like the old, the local and the gritty….

The Food

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Mango salad

Vietnamese Crepes Quảng Hoa (Bánh Xèo Quảng Hòa)

Vietnamese Crepes Quảng Hoa (Bánh Xèo Quảng Hòa)

Fresh spring rolls stacked high

Fresh spring rolls stacked high

Pho soup

Pho soup

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Curbside meal

Curbside meal

Curbside meal

Curbside meal

Market stuff

Market stuff

The Place

One of the oldest hotels, the Grand Hotel

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City Hall

Opera House

Opera House

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

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Post Office

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Notre Dame Cathedral at night

The People I meet

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Motor Bike vendors

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Waitress

Young girl peddling key-chains
Young girl peddling key-chains, of course i bought one.

Prayer time at the Cathedral

Late night prayer at the Cathedral

Young woman waiting for a taxi.

Young woman waiting for a taxi.

Next a Vietnam wedding…

She thinks i’m a chef…

You got to try this…Dutch Baby or German Pancakes …This puffy pastry kind of thing is usually for breakfast, although I made this at 3 in the afternoon. It is easy to make and so good, add fruit, jam, butter, syrup, smoked fish, just about anything you want, you can’t go wrong and it looks great on the table.

DutchBaby-3 DutchBaby-6 Ingredients: 4 eggs, 1cup of flour, tablespoon of sugar, 1 cup milk, dash of vanilla, cinnamon. Butter a cast iron skillet or a non-stick pan and bake at 450 degrees.

So my partner Ms. E thinks I’m some kind of super chef, little does she know I’m just winging it, yeah faking it, no professional education, so we won’t tell her about my shortcomings but i think it has wooed her to my dark side….

For some time now and without my knowledge, Ms. E has been taking pictures (Mobile phone pics) of the meals I/we have prepared and then she posts them on her FB page!!! Hmmm, Well bless her heart… here is a month’s worth of cooking…

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Finally got my visa to Vietnam. Next Saigon…