Saturday, January 06, 2007

Something about New Orleans

I am a country boy by nature, and hate busy city life in general. New Orleans is one US city that I really wouldn't mind settling down in. It is very city, however very slow. It does have a large area of walkable downtown, unlike many southern cities that were built on the concept of highways and cars. Street artists are visible on every streets and every corners. Most people you met on the street will be tourists, who are as clueless to the area as you are. Local people are super friendly.

You can expect best French food, and of course Cajun food in New Orleans. Forget about Chinese food in New Orleans. On one hand, there's no Chinese restaurant servers real Chinese food; on the other hand, Cajun food is just better tasting for Chinese. Be sure to order some alligator appetizer in a Cajun restaurant. Taste like aged chicken but only available in the South. My favorite restaurants in New Orleans are all Japanese. Besides some chains, there are two 'Little Tokyos', one serves sushi buffet. It's cheap, but average among other sushi buffet places in the rest of US. The Little Tokyo on Causeway serves dinner. A good thing about the place is that it opens until very late. Food is good and chefs are cheerful. I especially like their 'love boat' for two. My best experience was at a sushi buffet place 'Kanpai' at 4116 Canal Street (at the intersection of Canal and N Carrollton). It's reasonably priced, but the food is at least twice as nice as some national chains that I have tried, such as Todai, etc. Although it's a buffet, the quality of food is on par or better than many upscale sushi bars.

You need daylight to 'see' the city. Those houses and small hotels in the French Quarter are quiet and photo like. Many locals sit on their second floor balcony, having tea and smiling to tourists when you look at them. The water front is also nice. You can take a trolley, or just walk around. Once place that is supposed to be must-see, but I didn't go is the city cemetery. Tour book said you should visit there only in group even in day time because of frequent robberies etc. You can book a late night cruise on the Mississippi. Mississippi is a surprising large river worth to see by itself. It's no longer or wider than Yangtze River, but in term of water volume, they are not even on the same scale.

Most people go to New Orleans are for the night life on the Bourbon Street. New Orleans is the only city in the US that allows bars to open until dawn next morning ( I think clubs in Vegas close at 3 or 5 by law). I am not sure about open bottle law, but I never saw police bother people with drinks in their hands. Actually the entire street smell beer and marijuana. Safety is not an issue at all. French Quarter is as safe as Vegas nowadays. On Bourbon Street and some adjacent streets, there are clubs for men, for women, and for 'both'. Five dollars drink and 1 dollar tip per dance usually last a long time. However, the dancers are not as good as those in Vegas. What you really shouldn't miss are those Jazz bars and Cajun music bars. Those in the French Quarters are all excellent; and some very nice ones scatter in the city and along the Mississippi.

The city had been trying to make French Quarter family friendly, which is stupid. But the result is that you will no longer see nude bodies or 'flashing' on the street. The police will arrest any girl dares to flash; what a disappointment. Try some local rum mix, such as Hurricane or Bloody Marry, cheap and mood boosting.;-) On the 'Royal Street' which parallels to Bourbon St, there are many fine art stores, perfect for window shopping at night.

New Orleans is safe for tourists. Almost none Hispanics. African American people in the South are generally friendly, courteous and polite, in a sharp contrary to those in the North. The police are not well regarded by the press, but I have never heard of any problem from Asian friends.

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