Chinatown in the year 4708

On a blustery Mother’s Day I got off at the Grand Street stop  in New York City’s Chinatown in this Year of the Tiger, 4708. No really. That’s the year according to the Chinese Calender. Makes 2010 seem a bit paltry, no?

More than any walk I’ve taken so far, I had no idea where I was going or what I was looking for. Having had perhaps one too many the night before, my head was, shall we say, a bit hazy as I ascended from the subway. Luckily, in Chinatown a willingness, if not aptitude for getting lost, will get you everywhere, and I ended up going, uhhh, that way!

Whichever way that was (I could not for a million dollars retrace my steps), turned out to be the market district of Chinatown – and not the one near the Canal street stop either. This was the real deal.

At first I was a little reticent to take pictures. After all, I wanted neither to appear to be a tourist, nor to have an orientalist fetish. But after bypassing a few jaw dropping sights, I pretty much got over whatever fears I had.

Noodles!

More Noodles!

Even More Noodles!

Okay, I realize I got a bit carried away with the noodles there, so forgive me in advance for the proliferation of sea creature photography:

Fish in a Box

Fishy

Crayfish in the City

They're Alive!

Oh man... how'd I get here?

But I just can’t help myself. There’s something so intriguing about walking around Chinatown’s market district. It gives you the sense you’re in a world other than your own. Not that this particular American mutt was treated with anything but the utmost courtesy- everyone let me take photos and I got to taste some dried abalone gratis. It’s just the non-packagedness of it all. Fish are still wrapped in newspaper. You get your lobsters with rubber bands on their claws. The noodles are tied with ribbon! More than the language, this is the difference. The lack of over sanitization, separation, alienation and all kinds of other lefty words ending in ation. In a world of styrofoam meat and genetically engineered produce, it’s nice to see crabs in a basket from time to time. But speaking of produce:

no one could tell me what these were

Daikon

Eggplants

Yams?

After about half an hour of dodging and weaving through the crowds while trying to snap a few photos in between, I needed a little respite and headed off to one of the side streets to see what I could see. What I found was no less interesting.

This piece of public art:

remains mercifully without a explanatory placard. I’ve named it the Great Wall of Chinatown. While it looks wooden (to me, in any case) from a distance, it’s actually made of brick.

Just beyond this, on what I seem to recall being Division Street, I saw a rather placid looking statue towering above the passersby.

With trepidation, I climbed the stairs to the Sun Tak Buddhist Association. Is this trespassing? Am I defiling a religious temple? Thinking about these things, and not really looking where I was going, I almost ran into a worshiper coming down. Apparently used to curious twenty somethings, he jumped out of my way. “Sorry!” he said. I assured him the fault was mine.

While this temple is above a 99 cent store, no kidding, it’s no less peaceful for it. You can’t see the people on the  street, and they in turn can’t see you. There are any number of store front temples in Chinatown, but with a little room outdoors, the Sun Tak Association is able to create an accessible, yet solemn space.

Offerings to the Triple Gem

Blooming Lily

Guanyin?

Later this week, the best little art gallery this side of the Iron Curtain, The People’s Garden, and what I had for lunch. (Sow’s ear in red sauce for one thing. Delicious!) If you’re still hungry for  more pictures of Chinatown foodstuffs, just scroll down. See you soon.

How much is that lobster in the window?

It's a King Crab

this speaks for itself

Newspaper adds to the flavor....

Pears in white

Restaurant window fish tank

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Chinatown in the year 4708

  1. well these shots are rather good

  2. Eve

    Another great NYC adventure!!! Thanks!

  3. Lorissa

    Thanks Kevin! Chinatown is full of amazing images. I’m glad you like these : )

  4. Pingback: What is the name of this movie? | chinese martial arts

  5. Robbie

    YUMM!!
    what fun – shared it with all my Chinese colleagues – who are the absolute BEST! Thanks for the reward adventure 😉

  6. Commodore Mendez

    Glad you didn’t pick up crabs. I got them in college and it took years to get rid of them. Another great travelogue–and you got to travel to a year in the future! To the theme from Rocky III. Well, that’s “Eye of the Tiger,” but you know what I mean. Nice shots again. Were there any neighborhood-oriented (not a pun) Mother’s Day celebrations going on?

  7. Lorissa

    Gracias Commodore. And sorry about your dorm experience. There were sadly no Mother’s Day celebrations going on. In the year 4708 – and yes it’s 4708, we’re all grown in test tubes so there are no “mothers” per say….

  8. MYH

    I loooove your writing. Such an easy read, a beautiful narration. Really puts you there. Would love to read more of your pieces. You’re definitely in your element.

    • Lorissa

      Hey MYH, thank you so much! I’m glad your enjoying the blog and stay tuned for more. I’ll be in Coney Island this week, weather permitting. I’ve been dying to try out the roller coasters over there.

      Thanks again!

  9. Richard Allen

    Aren’t the prickly fruits in nets durians?

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