Yes, I bought china in Chinatown

23 Jan

The main gate into Chinatown. That's me in the blue coat...

So in honor of Chinese New Year, I thought I’d take you along on our recent visit to Chinatown in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. For two gloriously quiet nights (we left the kids with my family) my husband and I snuck away north, passports in hand and umbrellas at the ready. (Yes, it rained every day we were there, obscuring the mountains but not our enthusiasm.)

Here’s a fact for the “who knew?” file: Vancouver has the largest population of Chinese people outside of, well, China. Driving through the city (whether by car or “sky train”), this becomes obvious in a hurry. The number of Chinese language storefront signs is far greater than the number of English storefronts.

The actual area of Vancouver known as “Chinatown” isn’t huge compared to the vastness that is Vancouver, but it is enjoyable to walk around, eating, buying, sniffing and experiencing all that is Vancouver’s Chinatown. You are truly in a different culture in a land where we speak the same language…to a degree. In Chinatown, proper, you hear more Chinese than English…which is not at all surprising and perfectly understandable.

We had a lovely time.

Yes...I spent a little money here.

Bird's nests, anyone? I almost would have been brave enough to try bird's nest soup...had I had several more ounces of bravery.

Inside this store, there were jars upon jars of things I've never seen before. And, though I couldn't read very many of them, I could read this: Dried Sea Cucumber, $1,100.00 a pound. And this: Dried Abalone, $1,300.00 a pound. I'm not sure how many dried abalone one gets for thirteen hundred dollars, but it better be a heck of a lot!

If only I could read Chinese! Some of the things were obvious...but others...not so much. And the smells were remarkable!

I love the angles.

Beautiful - in a moment of no rain!

A garden dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat Sen. We didn't have the chance to go to his official gardens, but this one was a lovely alternative.

And...the year of the dragon begins!!!

PS – I’ll post about Vancouver again in the near future…there is so much more to the city!


6 Responses to “Yes, I bought china in Chinatown”

  1. Andrea January 23, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Looks just like China!

  2. hotlyspiced January 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    How lovely for you to get a few days away. I had no idea Vancouver had the highest number of Chinese outside of China. There seems to be a Chinatown in every Western city of the world. My sister married an Australian born Chinese man. After my sister had her first baby her mother-in-law insisted she eat bird’s nest soup, and lots of it. I have never tried it and I have no idea what’s in it – I hope it’s not an actual bird’s nest.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell January 24, 2012 at 8:32 am #

      Believe it or not, it IS real bird’s nest! HOWEVER…only a certain kind of bird, as I understand it, and HOPEFULLY it’s somehow cleaned?!! I don’t know, though!

  3. Minnesota Prairie Roots January 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Who would have thought? I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to China today, Gretchen.

    My niece, who is the state president of the Minnesota Future Farmers of America, returned just a few days ago from a 10-day trip to the “real” China. The first beverage she ordered when she landed back in the U.S. was two HUGE glasses of milk.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell January 24, 2012 at 8:36 am #

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, the summer I spent in Thailand I had zero milk for 9 weeks – it was only sweetend, un refrigerated milk that was available and I couldn’t abide it! When I returned I was lactose intollerant for a few years…not good. I hope your niece had a great trip, though! My husband went there for work a few years ago and will be going back this year.

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