We traveled deep behind the Orange Curtain today to visit the cities of Westminster, Garden Grove and Fountain Valley, home to the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam. Aside from foreign language signage, there's nothing much on the surface that distinguishes the area from the rest of L.A.'s suburban sprawl - strip shopping centers and walled-off neighborhoods filled with track houses.
We stopped at this Buddhist temple where saffron robed monks were leading daily chants.
This statue of Buddha was carved from a piece of Chinese white marble. The neon hallo is hot.
We tried to get into this Catholic shrine, but it was locked.
Outside of the shrine we found this Asian pond .
Guarding the pond is a statue of Our Lady of La Vang, an unmistakably Asian-looking version of Jesus' mom. As the story goes, this one started appearing in a remote location in the jungles of central Vietnam in 1798 to a group of Catholics who were hiding from persecutors.
So, the Catholic church was under attack. Mary started hanging out with some of the local faithful. The apparitions gained notoriety and attracted the attention of Catholic forces outside the country. Haven't I heard this before?
We spent much of our time at this shopping mall.
This shop sells teas, herbs and traditional potion mixes made on site to treat all sorts of ailments.
I should have bought this 24k gold tiger. I could make a small fortune selling hundreds of these little statues in Louisiana right now.
One shop had Virgin Mary and Buddha statues side by side.
The food court.
I had some of my favorite Vietnamese dishes. That's rice porridge and spring rolls, above, and a crepe stuffed with slivers of pork and bean sprouts, below.
Some strange fruit.