Browsing the archives for the Uncategorized category.

Kerala Tourism Trip Tips coming soon!


The State of Kerala in Southern India is home to some of India’s most intriguing natural landscapes, animals, and people.

Kerala – meaning “land of coconuts”, which grow here in abundance thanks to the balmy tropical climate.  was formed in 1956 from the former states of Travancore, Malabar and Cochin.  Many here speak the Malayalam language.

Kerala’s Malabar Coast has been famous for spices for over a thousand years.

Kerala’s capital is Thiruvananthapuram at the southern end of the state. The other major cities are Kochi (formerly Cochin) and Kozhikode (formerly Calicut).

If all goes well we’ll be off to Kerala this spring on a blogging tour and will bring you pictures and stories from that region.  Stay tuned!


Washington D.C. Trip Tips


Washington D.C. Trip Tips

It is fun to be planning our July 2015 trip to Washington D.C.    I was born there and have visited several times, but D.C. offers a plethora of interesting and superbly iconic American attractions  (Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, White House, Capital, War Memorials, etc, etc).

This amazing city never gets old.

Some of the challenges I’m facing so far are high hotel prices in the downtown areas, though Hotwire has been good about cutting those into more accessible reasonable rates.  Unfortunately Hotwire reservations can’t be cancelled so you are to some extent gambling that your trip plans will not change. Check in our website for transport info.


coming soon…
Which Washington D.C. Hotel to Choose?

D.C. has over 100,000 rooms in the larger metropolitan area at about 660 hotel properties.   About 120 of these are located in the city itself.

For living large on a middle class budget we are considering The Savoy Suites, a premier hotel with lowered rates during their remodeling (July 2015).    As with most (all?) downtown nice hotels, parking adds another $30 or so to the daily tab in a city where you don’t really need a car to get around, assuming you are willing to walk a LOT as well as use D.C.s  great metro system.

Another possibility is  the option of staying outside the city, parking at the hotel or at the metro itself  (about $5 per day) and using D.C.s fantastic and cheap metro, an extensive subway network that extends well beyond the city in all directions.

D.C. Dining 

(more to come during the trip)




The Top Five Must See Historical Places in New York City

Food, new york, new york city travel, New York History, new york travel, restaurants, Uncategorized

The Top Five Must See Historical Places in New York City – By Ray Chin

Everyone knows that New York City is rich in history, and most realize that is an evolving city as well.  If you know where to look, you can still discover bits of NYC’s past.  From Fraunces Tavern to Grand Central Terminal, here are the top five must see historical places in New York City, you can read about this in travelling blogs as andersfogh online.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal (89 E 42nd St) first opened in 1913 and it is still a major transportation hub.  Here is a fun fact: there is a hidden train track in Grand Central Terminal, Track 61. This track was used to transport President Franklin D. Roosevelt to NYC.  Also the famous constellations on the ceiling are actually reversed, so that one would see the ceiling as how the gods would view the stars. There are quite a few secrets about the Grand Central Terminal, such as the whispering gallery and a hidden bar —click here to see the interstate removalist in Canberra. To find out more about these secrets, we suggest taking a scavenger hunt or a tour of Grand Central Terminal.

Wall Street and The New York Stock Exchange

Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange (11 Wall Street) are the financial center of the world.  One of the more interesting facts about Wall Street is that back on September 16, 1920, Wall Street was attacked by terrorists and they were never caught.  If you are visiting the area today, you can still see some of the damage from this attack on 23 Wall Street, 95 years later.

Bloody Angle

Doyers Street is a quite unassuming street in the heart of Chinatown but it hides a dark history.  It was once the bloodiest street in the United States with more violent deaths occurred here than any other street in the USA.  The secret passageways that were once used as an escape route are now the location of a few small businesses. Today, Doyers Street is the home to the popular restaurant, Nom Wah Tea Parlor (13 Doyers St), the oldest tea parlor in Chinatown.  You can learn more about the fascinating history of Chinatown and Little Italy and sample some of Nom Wah’s delicious

 dim sum on a Chinatown and Little Italy food tour  from Ahoy New York Tours & Tasting.

 Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern (54 Pearl St) is the oldest bar in New York City.  It played an important role before, during and after the American Revolution.  It served as the headquarters for George Washington and it was a venue for the peace talks with the British.  Today it is a restaurant and museum and visiting Fraunces Tavern is truly a blast from the past. We recommend hiring, because there are very long distance destinations.

Cleopatra’s Needle

There is an obelisk on the east side of Central Park on 81st Street that seems out of place in New York City.  The obelisk actually has nothing to do with Cleopatra and it was originally built in Heliopolis in 1450 BC.  Cleopatra’s Needle is in fact the oldest man-made object in Central Park. The obelisk was a gift from Egypt to New York/US to increase trade between the two countries.  The New York obelisk is part of a pair with other obelisk located in London.

This is a guest post written by Ray Chin, a blogger for Ahoy New York Tours and Tasting, a walking food tour of two historic neighborhoods Chinatown and Little Italy.  With tastings ranging from creamy mozzarella from the oldest Italian cheese shop in America to the delicious original egg rolls from the oldest dim sum parlor in Chinatown, it is a ton of fun!

Sa Dec, Vietnam


Sa Dec, Vietnam

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

One last market picture from Sa Dec Vietnam before we move along on our tour of Vietnam based on my February 2011 trip that took us from Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon to the Mekong delta and fairly small city of Sa Dec. Sa Dec is known in Europe mostly as the backdrop for the story and film “The Lover”, Marguerite Duras’ semi autobiographical novel about the experiences of her youth in French Colonial Vietnam.

After an eventful bus ride from Sa Dec back to Saigon / HCMC we spent a few more days in Saigon, Vietnam’s economic powerhouse, experiencing a very interesting take on the Vietnam War in the Presidential Palace and War Artifacts Museums – extensive pictures from their are here at Flickr in my collection, though note that some are graphic and may be disturbing to you.  We took a day trip on old Russian-made hydrophoil boats to Vung Tao Island, a popular resort area. Next we headed north to Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue, Ha Long Bay, and the amazing caves at Phong Ke Ban National Park. More on all that in upcoming posts.

Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon Vietnam


Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam 098

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City aka “Saigon” (a very interesting historical naming issue for later), is modernizing quickly like most of communist Asia. For me there’s huge irony here as communism’s centralized economies blend with western-style capitalism, but I get the idea that for most of the folks in Vietnam (and also China) this is NOT ironic at all. Rather, those governments are now responding better to the natural forces of economics such as entrepreneurship and free enterprise.

The upside of this are much higher standards of living for many of the folks in Vietnam. The downside as a traveler is that the charming tiny shops and restaurants that line the city streets are giving way to bigger and brighter lights of department stores and massive signs you could find in any western city. As we sat with some of our new table tennis pals at a nice restaurant in downtown Saigon one of them pointed across the street to a huge store with bright lights, proudly showing me the beauty of the new Vietnam. The older generation seems less enthusiastic about the changes sweeping the country, although I think they understand that the rising tide of capitalism is lifting most of the boats here, giving their children opportunities, health, and prosperity they could only have dreamed about only a few decades ago.

Sa Dec Market, Vietnam


Sa Dec Market, Vietnam

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

This post begins my summary of the three weeks I spent traveling in Vietnam last February with two Table Tennis friends – one who grew up there and one expert player from California. The trip was an amazing introduction to a beautiful country with wonderful people. Unlike the “Vietnam War” imagery that still haunts most of us in the USA, the “new” Vietnam is teaming with energy and enthusiasm as the economy blossoms and relations with the rest of the world improve. Some would say that Vietnam is not yet ready for “prime time” in terms of the tourism amenities (for example a boat much like ours sunk in Halong Bay during our trip, killing several tourists), but I’d encourage all but the faint of heart to venture into this amazing country.

Here, in Sa Dec near the Mekong River, we sampled fruits I’d never seen before that we bought on the street from the vendors.
Sa Dec is not on most tourism itineraries, making my California friend and I something of celebrities there as we walked along with kids yelled “hello, hello!” or coming up to practice their very spotty English, now required in most Vietnamese grade schools. As we found throughout the country the people throughout Vietnam were both warm and friendly, and the war that figures so prominently in American memories seemed almost like a historical footnote to most of the people here. More on that American war history later when we visit the “Hanoi Hilton” in Hanoi and the “War Crimes Room” of the Presidential Palace Museum in Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City.

Shanghai China – Nanjing Road


ChinaApril2008 058

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Shanghai is now, arguably, the world’s most important metropolis, and it is certainly an incredible crossroads of global culture and influence. Here we find almost every nation on earth represented and we see a lot of the intersection of the world’s two most significan economies – the USA and China.

Gettysburg Battlefield Auto Tour



Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

2011 Tour Options at Gettysburg National Park (adapted from the National Park Service Website at )

Licensed Battlefield Guide service.

A battlefield guide will personally guide you through the park in the comfort of your own vehicle. The cost in 2011 for this service is $55 for two hours for 6 people. Cost is greater for larger groups. The guide will drive *your* car as he or she explains the battlefield history.

Battlefield bus tour.

Board at at the National Park Service Visitor Center. March 25 to April 6: 11 & 1:30.
April 7 to June 8: 9:30, Noon, 2:30.
June 9 to August 26: 9:30, 11:00, 12:00, 1:30, 2:30, 4pm.
August 27 to October 16: 9:30, 12:00, and 2:30.
Bus Tour Fee is $28. Age 6-12 $17 5 and under are free.

The Self-guided Auto Tour is excellent and free. You drive your own car, stopping at your convenience at designated areas. I highly recommend this approach and the photos at Flickr linked to this picture were taken along that drive.

Pick up a free clasiq auto tour map at the park’s Museum and Visitor Center.

You may also want to add an “Audio Tour” to the auto tour for more detail along the way.
Available at the park book store in cassette or CD format. Battle of Gettysburg authorities narrate these tapes, although my recollection is that the storytelling approach is somewhat uninspired even as it is historically remarkable.

iHikes and Bikes

Hikers and bikers can use the designated trails and pathways near the Museum and Visitor Center and elsewhere in the park. See the park brochure for more detail.

Bicycle riding is welcome on park roads and avenues but you must stay on pavement only.
Off-road biking is not allowed on earthen trails or the paved walkways.

For Scout Groups: “Boy Scouts of America Gettysburg Heritage Trail Guide”, which gives scouts a challenging course through the park. Available at the park bookstore.

US Cities by Population. Cities with over 100,000 people


Here are all the United States Cities with populations over 100,000 according to the 2010 Census. This list is from Wikipedia’s page about city populations.

Note that only the first nine cities have populations over a million. China, according to an interpretation I found of her 2002 census, had 171.

Also note the size of New York City. With over 8 million it’s twice as large as second place Los Angeles and about the size of the bottom 60 cities on this list.     If the list included *all* of the cities in the USA, New York would be larger than the bottom 10,000+ cities based on the assumption that the smallest towns have an average population of 800 or less people.

Rank and City State Population
1 New York New York 8175133
2 Los Angeles California 3792621
3 Chicago Illinois 2695598
4 Houston Texas 2099451
5 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1526006
6 Phoenix Arizona 1445632
7 San Antonio Texas 1327407
8 San Diego California 1307402
9 Dallas Texas 1197816
10 San Jose California 945942
11 Jacksonville Florida 821784
12 Indianapolis[g] Indiana 820445
13 San Francisco California 805235
14 Austin Texas 790390
15 Columbus Ohio 787033
16 Fort Worth Texas 741206
17 Charlotte North Carolina 731424
18 Detroit Michigan 713777
19 El Paso Texas 649121
20 Memphis Tennessee 646889
21 Baltimore Maryland 620961
22 Boston Massachusetts 617594
23 Seattle Washington 608660
24 Washington District of Columbia 601723
25 Nashville [g] Tennessee 601222
26 Denver Colorado 600158
27 Louisville [g] Kentucky 597337
28 Milwaukee Wisconsin 594833
29 Portland Oregon 583776
30 Las Vegas Nevada 583756
31 Oklahoma City Oklahoma 579999
32 Albuquerque New Mexico 545852
33 Tucson Arizona 520116
34 Fresno California 494665
35 Sacramento California 466488
36 Long Beach California 462257
37 Kansas City Missouri 459787
38 Mesa Arizona 439041
39 Virginia Beach [e] Virginia 437994
40 Atlanta Georgia 420003
41 Colorado Springs Colorado 416427
42 Omaha Nebraska 408958
43 Raleigh North Carolina 403892
44 Miami Florida 399457
45 Cleveland Ohio 396815
46 Tulsa Oklahoma 391906
47 Oakland California 390724
48 Minneapolis Minnesota 382578
49 Wichita Kansas 382368
50 Arlington Texas 365438
51 Bakersfield California 347483
52 New Orleans Louisiana 343829
53 Honolulu [b] Hawaii 337256
54 Anaheim California 336265
55 Tampa Florida 335709
56 Aurora Colorado 325078
57 Santa Ana California 324528
58 St. Louis [d] Missouri 319294
59 Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 305704
60 Corpus Christi Texas 305215
61 Riverside California 303871
62 Cincinnati Ohio 296943
63 Lexington Kentucky 295803
64 Anchorage Alaska 291826
65 Stockton California 291707
66 Toledo Ohio 287208
67 St. Paul Minnesota 285068
68 Newark New Jersey 277140
69 Greensboro North Carolina 269666
70 Buffalo New York 261310
71 Plano Texas 259841
72 Lincoln Nebraska 258379
73 Henderson Nevada 257729
74 Fort Wayne Indiana 253691
75 Jersey City New Jersey 247597
76 St. Petersburg Florida 244769
77 Chula Vista California 243916
78 Norfolk [e] Virginia 242803
79 Orlando Florida 238300
80 Chandler Arizona 236123
81 Laredo Texas 236091
82 Madison Wisconsin 233209
83 Winston-Salem North Carolina 229617
84 Lubbock Texas 229573
85 Baton Rouge Louisiana 229493
86 Durham North Carolina 228330
87 Garland Texas 226876
88 Glendale Arizona 226721
89 Reno Nevada 225221
90 Hialeah Florida 224669
91 Chesapeake [e] Virginia 222209
92 Scottsdale Arizona 217385
93 North Las Vegas Nevada 216961
94 Irving Texas 216290
95 Fremont California 214089
96 Irvine California 212375
97 Birmingham Alabama 212237
98 Rochester New York 210565
99 San Bernardino California 209924
100 Spokane Washington 208916
101 Gilbert Arizona 208453
102 Arlington [c] Virginia 207627
103 Montgomery Alabama 205764
104 Boise Idaho 205671
105 Richmond [e] Virginia 204214
106 Des Moines Iowa 203433
107 Modesto California 201165
108 Fayetteville North Carolina 200654
109 Shreveport Louisiana 199311
110 Akron Ohio 199110
111 Tacoma Washington 198397
112 Aurora Illinois 197899
113 Oxnard California 197899
114 Fontana California 196069
115 Yonkers New York 195976
116 Augusta [g] Georgia 195844
117 Mobile Alabama 195111
118 Little Rock Arkansas 193524
119 Moreno Valley California 193365
120 Glendale California 191719
121 Amarillo Texas 190695
122 Huntington Beach California 189992
123 Columbus Georgia 189885
124 Grand Rapids Michigan 188040
125 Salt Lake City Utah 186440
126 Tallahassee Florida 181376
127 Worcester Massachusetts 181045
128 Newport News [e] Virginia 180719
129 Huntsville Alabama 180105
130 Knoxville Tennessee 178874
131 Providence Rhode Island 178042
132 Santa Clarita California 176320
133 Grand Prairie Texas 175396
134 Brownsville Texas 175023
135 Jackson Mississippi 173514
136 Overland Park Kansas 173372
137 Garden Grove California 170883
138 Santa Rosa California 167815
139 Chattanooga Tennessee 167674
140 Oceanside California 167086
141 Fort Lauderdale Florida 165521
142 Rancho Cucamonga California 165269
143 Port St. Lucie Florida 164603
144 Ontario California 163924
145 Vancouver Washington 161791
146 Tempe Arizona 161719
147 Springfield Missouri 159498
148 Lancaster California 156633
149 Eugene Oregon 156185
150 Pembroke Pines Florida 154750
151 Salem Oregon 154637
152 Cape Coral Florida 154305
153 Peoria Arizona 154065
154 Sioux Falls South Dakota 153888
155 Springfield Massachusetts 153060
156 Elk Grove California 153015
157 Rockford Illinois 152871
158 Palmdale California 152750
159 Corona California 152374
160 Salinas California 150441
161 Pomona California 149058
162 Pasadena Texas 149043
163 Joliet Illinois 147433
164 Paterson New Jersey 146199
165 Kansas City Kansas 145786
166 Torrance California 145438
167 Syracuse New York 145170
168 Bridgeport Connecticut 144229
169 Hayward California 144186
170 Fort Collins Colorado 143986
171 Escondido California 143911
172 Lakewood Colorado 142980
173 Naperville Illinois 141853
174 Dayton Ohio 141527
175 Hollywood Florida 140768
176 Sunnyvale California 140081
177 Alexandria [f] Virginia 139966
178 Mesquite Texas 139824
179 Hampton [f] Virginia 137436
180 Pasadena California 137122
181 Orange California 136416
182 Savannah Georgia 136286
183 Cary North Carolina 135234
184 Fullerton California 135161
185 Warren Michigan 134056
186 Clarksville Tennessee 132929
187 McKinney Texas 131117
188 McAllen Texas 129877
189 New Haven Connecticut 129779
190 Sterling Heights Michigan 129699
191 West Valley City Utah 129480
192 Columbia South Carolina 129272
193 Killeen Texas 127921
194 Topeka Kansas 127473
195 Thousand Oaks California 126683
196 Cedar Rapids Iowa 126326
197 Olathe Kansas 125872
198 Elizabeth New Jersey 124969
199 Waco Texas 124805
200 Hartford Connecticut 124775
201 Visalia California 124442
202 Gainesville Florida 124354
203 Simi Valley California 124237
204 Stamford Connecticut 122643
205 Bellevue Washington 122363
206 Concord California 122067
207 Miramar Florida 122041
208 Coral Springs Florida 121096
209 Lafayette Louisiana 120623
210 Charleston South Carolina 120083
211 Carrollton Texas 119097
212 Roseville California 118788
213 Thornton Colorado 118772
214 Beaumont Texas 118296
215 Allentown Pennsylvania 118032
216 Surprise Arizona 117517
217 Evansville Indiana 117429
218 Abilene Texas 117063
219 Frisco Texas 116989
220 Independence Missouri 116830
221 Santa Clara California 116468
222 Springfield Illinois 116250
223 Vallejo California 115942
224 Victorville California 115903
225 Athens [g] Georgia 115452
226 Peoria Illinois 115007
227 Ann Arbor Michigan 113934
228 El Monte California 113475
229 Denton Texas 113383
230 Berkeley California 112580
231 Provo Utah 112488
232 Downey California 111772
233 Midland Texas 111147
234 Norman Oklahoma 110925
235 Waterbury Connecticut 110366
236 Costa Mesa California 109960
237 Inglewood California 109673
238 Manchester New Hampshire 109565
239 Lansing Michigan 109563
240 Murfreesboro Tennessee 108755
241 Columbia Missouri 108500
242 Elgin Illinois 108188
243 Clearwater Florida 107685
244 Miami Gardens Florida 107167
245 Rochester Minnesota 106769
246 Pueblo Colorado 106595
247 Lowell Massachusetts 106519
248 Wilmington North Carolina 106476
249 Arvada Colorado 106433
250 Ventura California 106433
251 Westminster Colorado 106114
252 West Covina California 106098
253 Gresham Oregon 105594
254 Fargo North Dakota 105549
255 Norwalk California 105549
256 Carlsbad California 105328
257 Fairfield California 105321
258 Cambridge Massachusetts 105162
259 Wichita Falls Texas 104553
260 High Point North Carolina 104371
261 Billings Montana 104170
262 Green Bay Wisconsin 104057
263 West Jordan Utah 103712
264 Richmond California 103701
265 Murrieta California 103466
266 Burbank California 103340
267 Palm Bay Florida 103190
268 Everett Washington 103019
269 Flint Michigan 102434
270 Antioch California 102372
271 Erie Pennsylvania 101786
272 South Bend Indiana 101168
273 Daly City California 101123
274 Centennial Colorado 100377
275 Temecula California 100097

Gettysburg Pennsylvania


Gettysburg Photo_071907_004

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

The quiet streets of modern Gettysburg do not convey the violence of the battles that raged in the fields near here. Gettysburg battles from July 1, 2, and 3rd of 1863 saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the US Civil War. This small Pennsylvania Town was also the “high water mark” of the Confederacy military campaign – the farthest north the confederate army would penetrate. Gettysburg Cemetery was the site of Lincoln’s famous “Gettysburg Address” where he wrote of the sacrifice of the thousands who died on these Pennsylvania fields.

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