Chinatown in Vancouver. It was an experience, but not an overly pleasant one.
I can see that at one time this was a fascinating area, colourful – but it’s colourful for all the wrong reasons now. It’s a pretty rough looking neighbourhood (even more so than Gastown it seemed to us). But more on that later.
I really wanted to see Dr. Sun Yat Sen classical Chinese garden, so we made a beeline for it right away. We paid $14 each for admittance, before I realized there is a free side. I’m actually glad we paid for the cultural centre, as I learned a lot about how Chinese people came to this area and influenced the culture and surroundings. There was also a lot of beauty here – artifacts, architecture and furnishings and the garden area of course.
And then we realized there was a free side and headed over there. We were greeted by a lovely garden…. and tweekers and meth heads and piss and pot smell at every turn. It was so disappointing to me. And sad to see these people so fucked up. We didn’t take pictures of them. But we did take a picture of a turtle!
We left the garden to venture out further into Chinatown, and it felt unsettling and slightly unsafe. We decided to stop sightseeing and seek out New Town Bakery (renowned for it’s BBQ pork buns). It was just down the street, and we ordered a water and two pork buns for less than $5! So delicious!
We decided to chance the Chinese garden again, to see if there was a spot we could eat our lunch in peace. We found it. A lovely little table and stone pillars to sit on. We enjoyed the bamboo view, and also watched a couple probably do a quick drug hit before a gardener shooed them away.
In summary – the garden and New Town Bakery were interesting… but we spent very little time in Chinatown, and I am sure we didn’t give it a fair shake. There was lots on our list to try and find, and we just gave up. Perhaps we just got unlucky with our timing of visit, but I hope this area can experience a resurgence to former glory.