Chinatown - back to San Fran, again.

I'm sorry, you must think this photo series is never going to end! But this is almost the end. Chinatown is the grand finalé, if you will. I saved it for last partly because it's my favorite part, and partly because...well, it was nearly the last thing on our itinerary.
I have never visited SF's Chinatown before, and I have to admit, it took me by surprise. Coming during our first major trip since China itself, I had pictured something very different. Though San Francisco is undeniably a town of various eras (how else to explain the Victorian row houses, painted over in the '60s and again in subsequent decades), Chinatown is an enclave straight out of a bygone time. I'm thinking maybe the jazz age.
Step through the arch that marks its perimeter, and you are transported straight back into another era.
I found it hard to believe how perfectly it has been preserved as it must have been in that previous era - as if time has been forbidden from setting foot past those Chinese gates.
And the colors...the colors!

Part of the strangeness is that China iteself has, I'm guessing, been repainted in shades of modern as its economic and political status has changed, and during the course of its astounding building boom. The combination of grey skies and modern construction has turned much of China the color of new cement, from top to bottom. So I suppose I didn't expect the faded parchment yellows, rich, celebratory reds and golds, and faded shades of turquoise that make up SF's Chinatown.

QQ hanging upside-down in her daddy's arms...one of her favorite passtimes.
A streetsign, rusted with age and the humid climate.

As perfectly, genuinely antiquated as this neighborhood remains, signs of the modern era look particularly surreal and jarring where they occur.

I just adore these old sings, whittled by time and elements, deliberately free from signs of rehabilitation.

Sadly, M. was already deep in the flu he caught by this time, and walking in a fog. But QQ was feeling grand and having a blast.
She really thrives on new experiences of any kind.
The far end of Chinatown, just a block before it turns, abruptly, back into modern-day San Francisco.
I love this wall.
Like a stage set - like something out of a movie or a sci fi novel.
At the end of the block, we found a new little Asian gelato shop in which to pause for refreshment before making our way back.
QQ's first encounter with a gumball machine...

A superbly authentic and subtle mango sorbet that we all shared.
Very cool seating, to boot.

A customer's shoes.
QQ found a pillar behind which she could hide...
...in order to pop out and surprise us.
Absolutely delighted with her new game.
Back on Daddy's shoulders for the return trip.
This is the view down the street at the far end of Chinatown. Not sure what was going on here...gangster-era bars? Strip clubs? Again, something definitely rooted in a bygone era.
Earthquake specialists in Chinatown.
A lovely example of elaborate tiling.

I think Q was a bit drawn to the idea of kites.
Twilight falling on Chinese lanterns.

Back at the entrance to this surreal little world...just at dusk.
So pretty.


Vivian M said...

Ohhh this was breathtaking and so lovely to see! Thank you for sharing it!

I love the dragon climbing down the wall of the old building, so cool!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Thanks for sharing these photos! San Francisco's Chinatown is one of my favorite places.

Funny story - we were there two years ago. And we went to a little Dim Sum restaurant. Our waiter asked us if our daughter was adopted from China - when we said yes, he beamed and said, "I used to work at Lucy's. I worked there in the winter and spring of 2005." Umm... that's when we were there on our adoption trip. LOL.

Donna said...

We love SF's Chinatown! Maddy was looking at the pictures on your blog and insisting that it's been too long since we visited there (it's only been five or six weeks!).

Next time you come out this way, give me a holler!

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