June 13, 2007

Recovery Slow in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans

POST #    2515

While the French Quarter of New Orleans mostly escaped damage from Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding that came when the levees broke, not all of New Orleans was so lucky. One of the places with the most dramatic scenes of destruction was the Lower 9th Ward. As you can see, there's still some work left to be done. Some buildings are still abandoned, awaiting demolition.

As we went through the neighborhood, we saw some demolition in progress, some reconstruction, and we could see that some people have returned to the neighborhood. One of the biggest problem the city, and its neighborhoods, faces is that so many residents have yet to return. The city's population was 484,674 before Katrina and, as of March, it was only at 56% of its pre-hurricane population. The lower 9th, it seemed, was at way less than 56% of its previous population. There are tons of empty lots, waiting for families.

I also walked into Alfred Lawless High School, an abandoned school in the ward. Being inside the school, setting foot in Ms. Tucker's bio and physiology class, was very creepy. The rust that covered everything reminded me of our trip to Alcatraz.

Posted by tien mao in Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 9:47 AM

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June 12, 2007

St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

POST #    2514

With its rich history New Orleans is a city with many famous cemeteries. We weren't able to take any cemetery tours because of time constraints and our schedule, but since Neil had been to New Orleans before, he took us to two of the more famous ones.

Our first stop was St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, which was established in 1823 (it's not far from No. 1, established in 1789). This cemetery is close to the French Quarter, but not in the nicest neighborhood. From what I saw walking around, it also needs a little maintenance. Some of the tombs are falling apart and there are bottles and garbage in some out of the way areas. As I was the only person walking around, it was a little creepy wandering amongst the rows of tombs.

Next was Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, established in 1833 by the city of Lafayette. While newer than St. Louis No. 1 and No. 2, Lafayette No. 1 is the cemetery that is used most frequently in movies made in New Orleans. It's located in the picturesque Garden District and generally looks a lot nicer than St. Louis No. 2. As you can see, there are actually trees lining the main path in the cemetery. While there's no garbage in this cemetery, some of the tombs could also use a little work.

Take note of the contrast between the two cemeteries.

Posted by tien mao in Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 9:39 AM

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June 7, 2007

A Louisiana Swamp Boat Tour

POST #    2510

One thing that Shannan and I were happy to have done while in Louisiana was going on a swamp boat tour. We went with Louisiana Swamp Tours (pretty straightforward name) and did the high speed airboat tour. As you can see, we had to put on sexy looking ear muffs. On the tour, we saw several gators - all of which were lured to the boat marshmallows. Thankfully, there were no snakes that fell out of the trees when we passed.

Parts of the tour really reminded me of kayaking in Virginia's Back Bay.

Posted by tien mao in Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 8:50 AM

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June 6, 2007

Night in the French Quarter

POST #    2509

Not sure exactly what the first building is (possibly a hotel), but the 2nd picture is of St. Louis Cathedral.

Posted by tien mao in Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 4:05 PM

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Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters

POST #    2508

Another thing tourists do when visiting the French Quarter is go to the Court of Two Sisters to have brunch. They have a jazz brunch buffet every day where they have live jazz and you eat in the ... courtyard of the building. I wasn't all too impressed by the food, but I don't think the restaurant is about the food, but about eating outside in that setting.

Shannan and I didn't have as nice an experience as Margaret, Neil, and Jonas. They saw, and talked to, George Takei - of Star Trek fame and now on Heroes.

In case you can't read it on their site, here's a snippet:
"We are far too cool to say anything or take a photo. I pointed him out to Neil and we had a smile, but that was it. Jonas is, apparently, less cool. He was running around chasing birds while Neil and I called after him, "Jonas, no!"

Suddenly, Takei speaks, "Well, hellooooooo there Jonah! (I didn't correct him.) He had a little conversation with the imp, remarking that while Jonas's throughly slobbered finger might taste good, his tasted better (I'm not even kidding about that.) A few minutes later he even said to someone on the phone, "I'm here having brunch with Jonah and his mommy and daddy!" As we were leaving he commented on what a cute kid we had and Neil responded with a "We love your work." It was, in all, a very pleasant celebrity experience."

Posted by tien mao in Food/Drink, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 8:57 AM

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June 5, 2007

Day and Night on Bourbon Street

POST #    2507


Actually, you can see a baby on Bourbon Street and a strippers at all times of day. They're not just out when you might expect.

Posted by tien mao in Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 4:29 PM

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Acme Oyster House in the French Quarter

POST #    2506

One afternoon in the French Quarter, we were looking for a light snack so we went to the Acme Oyster House. It's a pretty touristy destination (isn't the whole Quarter somewhat touristy), but it was tasty nonetheless. We shared the oysters (Neil's first one, I believe) and I had the Creole Jambalaya.

Posted by tien mao in Food/Drink, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 8:23 AM

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June 4, 2007

Drinking in the French Quarter

POST #    2505

I can confirm that the Hurricane from Pat O'Brien's are very strong. Not long after Jonas passed out, I too passed out. The Hand Grenades from Tropical Isle clearly aren't as strong. Even Jonas withstood the alcohol from them.

Posted by tien mao in Food/Drink, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 3:14 PM

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May 31, 2007

A Garden in the French Quarter

POST #    2499

It seemed like a lot of the houses in the French Quarter had entrances that led to courtyard gardens towards the back of the residences. This garden/courtyard was definitely not the norm.

Posted by tien mao in Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 3:59 PM

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Sunset on The Quarter

POST #    2498

Posted by tien mao in Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 7:40 AM

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May 30, 2007

From the French Quarter of New Orleans

POST #    2497

Perhaps the most famous part of New Orleans is the French Quarter, the area bounded by the Mississippi River, Canal Street, Rampart Street, and Esplanade Avenue. While the area is known as the French Quarter, most of the buildings now in the area were rebuilt while New Orleans was under Spanish control. Fires in 1788 and 1794 destroyed most of the buildings built in in French colonial times. The whole area was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1965 (as the Vieux Carré Historic District). When hurricane Katrina hit the city, The Quarter remained mostly dry because it's built on higher ground than a lot of New Orleans, which is protected by levees.

There's also a distinction to the iron structures that are attached to buildings in The Quarter. Balconies are self-supported and attached to the side of the building, while galleries are supported with poles or columns from the ground.

Posted by tien mao in Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 2:45 PM

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Iced Café au Lait and Beignets at Café Du Monde

POST #    2496

Onto New Orleans! One of our first stops in New Orleans was Café Du Monde, a café famous for its beignets. It's a stop that every tourist to the city needs to make, no? For those unfamiliar with what a beignet is, here's a simple explanation: deep-fried dough with powdered sugar on top. The Café Du Monde website explains them thusly: "the beignet is a square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar." Pretty straightforward. They also say that historically, they were sometimes filled with fruit and brought to Louisiana by the Acadians (the word that Cajun originated from). The coffee they serve at Café Du Monde is a coffee-chicory mix, a custom also brought to New Orleans by the Acadians. What can I add about the beignet? They are awesome. That's pretty much it. There's also a ton of powdered sugar as you can see. There's so much of it that the floors, tables, and chairs are covered with it. On a somewhat breezy day (as the day we went was), you can't leave without being covered by the stuff.

The coffee that I ordered while there was my first ever. Quite a milestone, I think. And if that last photo isn't sexy enough for you, check this one out.

Posted by tien mao in Food/Drink, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 7:35 AM

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May 29, 2007

The Bustling Nightlife of Abbeville, LA

POST #    2495

[Note: To help slog through my backlog of photos (I still have some Japan photos to go through in addition to Hong Kong and Taiwan), I'm going to attempt and do two posts a day from Monday-Saturday to help work through the glut.]

No trip to the Abbeville, Louisiana would be complete without a night out on the town, right? Right? Our first night there, I was way too tired to head out after the rehearsal dinner/roast. The night following the wedding though, we went out for Tram's (pronounced Chum) birthday. I barely have a photo of her (back to camera in the 3rd picture), but our first stop was The Oaks in Abbeville. To say that the place was dingy would be an understatement. I was told that the place was the size of a trailer. It was probably closer to a double-wide. The best part wasn't the thimble-sized $1 shots, but the light they would flip on when playing rap music. If that doesn't scream classy, I don't know what does.

After a brief stop there, we went out in Lafayette. When in Lafayette, it was super crowded out as it happened to be graduation day at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Posted by tien mao in Friends/Family, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 2:45 PM

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May 28, 2007

Out in Lafayette, LA

POST #    2493

After the night got bad because of Jägermeister shots, there was some hitting/punching/maybe kicking of testicals. Luckily, I escaped that.

Posted by tien mao in Friends/Family, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 11:42 AM

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May 24, 2007

When in Cajun Country, Attend a Crawfish Boil

POST #    2490

The day after the wedding, Thuy's parents were nice enough to have people over to their home for a crawfish boil. Thuy's dad bought 160 pounds of crawfish and prepared them himself behind the house. He has quite the set-up back there, perfect for entertaining people.

The crawfish we had were gigantic as it's relatively late in the season and Mr. Bui actually toned down the spice on the boil this time, but it still seemed adequately hot for me.

Posted by tien mao in Food/Drink, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 9:18 AM

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May 23, 2007

Rehersal Dinner and Roast

POST #    2489

Thuy and John's rehearsal dinner was followed by John's roast - a first for a wedding that I went to. There were lots of off colored jokes, all of which were funny. Except the one about me.

Posted by tien mao in Friends/Family, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 9:16 AM

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May 22, 2007

More from Thuy and John's Wedding

POST #    2488

Because photos from the ceremony weren't enough, here are some from after and the reception at the VN Hall.

Posted by tien mao in Friends/Family, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 10:16 AM

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May 21, 2007

Thuy and John's Wedding

POST #    2487

This weekend was Thuy and John's wedding extravaganza in Abbeville. The wedding at St. Mary Magdalen was just a small component of the whole weekend.

A lot more photos to come.

Posted by tien mao in Friends/Family, Louisiana, Photos, Travel at 10:17 AM

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