chinatown can be overwhelming to the senses.
it can also be a bit disarming to the jaded traveler,
who doesn't want to be hawked anything, charged for taking pictures, or deluged in cheap.
no doubt, chinatown will deliver on all of those points.
it will jade your jaded soul that much more.
but if you dig deeper, look further, walk longer -
you will start to understand the heart of chinatown.
i would suggest looking up, see the details, notice the way people live.
because this is a neighborhood -
crowded with tourists -
but a neighborhood, none-the-less.
stop anywhere on grant street to buy up some tchotchkes for the kiddos, friends and people you hate.
(joke, but not)
but then go further.
take the side allies,
notice the art everywhere.
murals are kind of my thing.
chinatown does not disappoint.
chinatown is a cash only paradise.
it is also an enclave for an elderly community that needs support.
look for the odd.
but make sure to announce that you are as tourist-y as is possible. ;)
sorry, but my little family was headed to the giants game later that day -
so, we we're sore thumbs.
luckily chinatown is full of sore thumbs.
art and real life.
oh, and the smell of amazing food.
all of that, combined.
listening and surviving the historic walking tour.
in need of chapstick.
this is ernie ng.
the library offers free historic walking tours in san francisco.
it is highly worth the lengthy (2+ hours) lecture.
charlie barely survived.
portsmouth square had so many hidden moments,
a neighborhood's living room playing out under an overcast sky,
surrounded by life, color.
aged and aging.
walk and listen and take lots of pictures.
tours give you an excuse to stop and look around, look up and learn more.
plus, a historic chinatown tour means an historic san francisco tour.
it all started there.
there is a duality, a stepping back surrounded by the step forward.
all deep with meaning and worth knowing.
chinese regentrification means harkening to the past,
insincerity mixed with nuance.
allies, walk down them all.
peek in every butcher shop, flower shop and factory.
beer lanterns, underwear and overpopulation.
see how people live, worth it every time.
we finally made our way down a quiet alley,
arriving at a taoist temple/shrine.
family worship explained.
symbolism and luck from the ancestors.
oh, and incense.
lots of incences.
(smelled like high school, sigh)
stockton street is where it's at,
where the locals are.
but it is busy and cameras are not welcome.
simply a moment.
architecture and details.
fortune cookie factory.
money for pics,
jaded over a bit...but understandable.
so, there's that.
starving, we found a family friendly - SUPER CHEAP - restaurant.
everything was piping hot and wonderful.
a nose to tail menu you'll want to come back and explore.
(i still am waiting to do a dim-sum tour with my sisters one day)
and here are my two buddies ready to head off to the game a mere hour later.
they were pumped, prepped and ready.
nick has been taking the kids over to the standing only observation deck for a while -
but this time we checked out what was available on stubhub (awesome),
and these two were able to go to a game.
so, san francisco is one of my towns -
but it is nice to get out and do the tourist thing with my family.
it's all new to them and it makes it new to me.
or at least, use it as an excuse to dig deeper, go below the surface and check out all of the art.
san fran is as full of art as it is good food.
come and check it out.
it will take years to see it all, understand it all -
but it's worth getting to know.
especially chinatown -
where it all started.