Actually, it was just a few hours but you get the picture.
Every time I’ve sat on a Megabus driving through Chinatown, I notice a small coffee shop hidden in a shaded corner of the neighborhood. I’ve been reminding myself that I have to find this coffee shop and Chinatown’s other hidden gems. This morning, I picked up my camera and walked out the door for a spontaneous adventure…without much of an idea of where I should begin. That’s ok though – it’s called an adventure for a reason.
I wandered around the neighborhood aimlessly, crossing the same street multiple times to get the right picture. Obviously, I couldn’t tackle everything in just a matter of hours but in that short period of time, I found myself immersed into the culture that Chinatown has to offer. Whether it’s the beautifully ornate Friendship Arch, delicious restaurants and bakeries, or fun shops, there is always something new to discover. I bought a few trinkets in spirit of the Year of the Goat (my animal!), tried moon cake for the first time at the Joy Luck House, ate fresh dumplings at the Chinatown Express, and made new friends everywhere I went. In fact, one gift shop owner thought I looked 17 or 18. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Of course, you can find more than just Chinese food. There is also Thai, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Korean etc. I love that Chinatown remains dedicated to maintaining Chinese culture in its decorum. But let’s be honest here. It’s a bummer that Chinatown is taken over by popular franchises. I was hoping to find shops and restaurants that were Chinatown’s own and while there are a few, there was also the occasional Starbucks Coffee and Urban Outfitters with their Chinese name inscribed next to it.
I’m sad to hear how much Chinatown has decreased in size through the years. From what I learned through conversations with Chinatown patrons, it once was a far more crowded and lively neighborhood. But because business is always evolving and families decided to move to the suburbs, Chinatown changed.
Nope, I never found the coffee shop but that gives me more incentive to return to experience more restaurants, shops and karaoke bars. Especially the karaoke bars. Word on the street is that I have a pretty fabulous singing voice. It’s a real thing y’all…ha, false.
What is something you’ve discovered in your local community? I’d love to learn.