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Sunday, November 28, 2004; Page P08

The Expat Life

MATT BRADLEY'S article about trying to speak Vietnamese ["Innocence Abroad," Nov. 21] reminded me of my son's experience. He lives and works in Saigon, needed to buy paper clips and, like Matt, thought he had the pronounciation right.

However, when he asked for paper clips in Vietnamese the girls in the store started giggling. It turned out he had asked for testicles! A very difficult language.

Ruth Nyman


Here's the Deal

THIS IS a big thank you for alerting me to the British Airways sale in your Sunday write-up [What's the Deal?, Nov. 21]. My family is planning a London trip and I was going to go through Expedia. When last I checked, about two weeks ago, the prices were about $3,500 for three for about five nights. When I saw your item, I checked with Expedia again and the price had soared to $4,800. So I went on BA and got a sweet deal for under $3,000 -- including two hotel rooms.

I wish every week started that nicely.

Paul Bedard

Purcellville, Va.

Maui Hike

I LOVED the recent article on Haleakala ["Lost on Maui," Nov. 14]. We hiked down in the crater this past summer and it was maybe the highlight of our stay on Maui. (Snorkeling was great too!)

I think you should have mentioned that the hike is not that difficult to do in one day. You absolutely do not have to camp out or stay in that little cabin. It's actually only 11 miles and it took us about seven hours.

We drove to the visitors center and met up with some other hikers. We went in one car to the summit and took the Sliding Sands trail down. We went across the crater floor and up the other side (the last three miles were steep and rocky and the only really hard part). We came out at the visitors center where we'd left our car, so all we had to do was drive our new friends up the summit to retrieve their car.

The scenery was wonderful and it was a great experience. We are two reasonably fit middle-aged people, but not experienced hikers, and we found it quite doable.

Jan Harper


The Rut Stuff

THANK YOU for writing about Elk County and its heritage ["The Elks Club," Nov. 14]. I grew up in Brockport, Pa. (Elk County), but have been living in the D.C. area for the last seven years. I was thrilled to see my hometown finally receive some publicity that demonstrates what that area has to offer. I have watched as the area has become more and more depressed as the mills close, mines dry up and small businesses are pushed out, thanks to giants such as Wal-Mart and other chain stores.

I will be returning home to visit family and friends later this month and will be taking copies of your article. If you did not notice while visiting the area, many of the folks in the region are detached from the modern world. As you mentioned, there is some discussion as to how the area should be "marketing" itself to help spawn economic growth and change.

Articles written and presented as well as yours are what that area needs to continue moving forward. Many parts of this country are so consumed with urban sprawl that they have forgotten about small-town values and what it is like to live near or be a part of nature.

Sandy D. Voellinger


Travel Q&A and You

IN REFERENCE to the letter in the Nov. 21 Travel Section, we have had good luck finding rooms through Florida's Superior Small Lodging. Melbourne is included in Florida's Space Coast Superior Small Lodging. Also, we have stayed in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea when we attended Orioles games, and loved it. It is a 20- to 30-minute drive to the ball park.

Elizabeth Shawen

Falls Church

MY WIFE and I just returned from Banff and Lake Louise [Oct. 31]. We stayed at the two Fairmont properties, Banff Springs and Chateau Lake Louise. You were right on when you described the Fairmont Banff Springs as "top shelf."

What did surprise me was your reference to the Banffshire Club at Banff Springs. In all of Banff, you mentioned the one restaurant that maintains a dress code -- coat and tie for men.

While likely holding the highest standard for dining in Banff, it is the one least likely to be visited. In addition to its dress policy, seating is very limited. There are many other fine restaurants in Banff (Coyote, Cafe Soliel, St. James Gate), just to name a few.

Ed Coleman

Prince Frederick, Md.

Free-Style Dining, Cont'd

WE DID not run into dining lines on a recent Norwegian Cruise Line cruise to Bermuda from Baltimore [Message Center, Nov. 7]. There was a line at 5 p.m. only because some people lined up for the dining room before it opened, and you have to wonder if they were really good candidates for a free-style cruise. The dining rooms were open as long as five hours for dinner, with both buffet and seated dining choices available. Most people we talked to were happy to have the easy choice of dining times and locations.

Alison Bennett


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