Is it possible to travel to Asia without stopping by Vietnam? For many people, yes it is possible.  For me however, the answer would be no. It just won't be right to pass by the land where my parents came from, a land where my ancestors are still buried a home away from home.  Nothing much to do in Saigon except for the usual; eating, shopping and getting clothes tailored.  After a few days I headed south into the Mekong Delta. It was my uncle's death anniversary (đám giỗ) and we were treated to a feast!

Roasted pork with pandan bánh hỏi, duck curry, beef stir fried with fresh leek bulbs, and lotus rootlet salad with free ranged chicken.
 

After our lunch feast, it was a time for a stroll in the "back yard"....  look what I found!

They're called "trái dâu" in Vietnamese.  Does anyone know the English name?

 Fresh bamboo shoots...ummm...

 Fresh pandan leaves...they grow like weeds. Apparently, they are considered weeds, as no one plants or take cares of them...they just grow...

 Fresh durian, ready to be plucked from the tree and eaten....

And...yes they were plucked from the three and eaten.  Delicious!

 Lotus flowers, so beautiful and graceful!

Before heading back to Saigon we stopped for a bowl of Hủ Tiếu Mỹ Tho.  Rice noodles with pork, shrimp, and chives in a clear aromatic broth....


A few days later it was time to head to Laos.  My tour flew me from Saigon to Hue for breakfast.  Then from Hue we drove over to Laos.


Hum....what shall we have for breakfast in Hue?  Bún Bò Huế, of course!  Our tour guide took us to a local hole in the wall place on Lý Thường Kiệt street.  I have to say the Bún Bò Huế in Huế is very different from what I have had in Saigon or Seattle.  The broth is not as pungent of lemongrass and shrimp paste and the fresh veggie mix has different herbs in it.  Most noticeable is the addition for Rau Má.


After lunch we boarded the bus and headed for Lao Bảo, the Vietnamese/Laos border.  Before crossing we stopped for lunch.  
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 Next up is Macau.... the funny thing is, a visit to Macau was not in my original plans.  My Hong Kong tour was consolidated so I had a few extra days.  It was either spend it in Hong Kong or...find something else to do...like go to Macau.  The Macau tour was only $100 so why not?  We took the ferry from Hong Kong and in a little over an hour we arrived in Macau.  Our tour guide picked us up and off we went!

First stop: St. Paul's Cathedral ....or should I say ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral.  It was breathtakingly beautiful!  Almost 200 years older then the United States.

Views of the city from the top of St. Paul's




 Sitting on the side of St. Paul's are a few shops selling goods tourist...more on that later.  But caught my eye was this cozy, humble little temple.  I looked like something you would see in one of those old Chinese kung fu movies... Charming!  I bet it is older then the United States too.



A few steps from the temple lies a small but well know pastry shop.  By well know, I mean their products are available in the U.S. ...or at least Seattle.  Besides their famous almond cookies, they had a wide assortment of other pastries.  Caught them in the act making these wafers; one of those sweet and savory snacks that asians are known to love.  A sweet crisp egg wafer with a strip of seaweed and salted peanut filling.

video


What's that I see in the pastry case?  A  Portuguese egg tart!  It was delicious!  Flaky pastry with creamy custard.  It was still warm, freshly baked. Yum!

Next stop Tin Hau temple.  Said to be built over 600 years ago, it still stands in glory.   The temple is dedicated to A-Mah (aka Tin Hau) and sits on the bay of A-Mah which in Chinese is "A-Mah Gau". According to legend, when the first Portuguese arrived the first thing they saw as the temple.  The locals told them they're at "A-Mah Gau"...and eventually "A-Mau Gau" became "Macau".



What else is Macau known for?  Casinos! ...of course!  Sorry, no cameras allowed inside....:(


And that concludes Macau, one of the most unique and charming places I've been.  A land where past and present complement one another.
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