Globetrotter Girls – Chinatown in New York City

Author: , July 30th, 2015

Dany at Globetrotter Girls - New York City Chinatown

July is nearly over, which means my U.S. visa is about to run out. As usual, I am extremely upset to leave, this time maybe even more than ever. I’ve got to say a few more words on this topic, but I wanted to keep the Polaroid light, so look out for it in my July round-up.

I left Gomez and moved in with Jessie, my biggest fling from last summer.. cat fling, that is. Do you remember her? She was my favorite pet and I looked after her several times last summer, and the exciting part of the cat sit this year is that her owner moved from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side – to Chinatown to be precise.

I have never spent much time down here which is why I was excited to finally explore Chinatown in more detail, and take advantage of the short way home from the many cool Lower East Side bars.

By Dany – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls | New York Gay Travel Resources

Amulet and Talisman Market in Bangkok

Author: , January 26th, 2012

 ( Post by Carlos Melia )  Bangkok, Thailand  |  During your visit to the ChinaTown in Bangkok, which by the way, prides itself to be the oldest ChinaTown in the entire world, you must save sometime to visit the Amulet Market. Located next to the Wat Mahathat, between Maharat Road and the river, the biggest amulet market in Bangkok. Mingle with the local crowd, monks and tourist and be amazed by the things you will find and surprised by those that people praise to. Check the full post and videos at Thailand Gay Travel Blog.

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From Nob Hill to North Beach in Three Easy Hours

Author: , July 2nd, 2010

Gay Friendly San Francisco Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

<p style=”text-align: center;”><em>Gay Friendly San Francisco Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals</em></p>

Chinatown, San Francisco

Whole Shebang TourAs we mentioned before, two days before SF Pride, we took a great walking tour of the city from Foot Comedy Walking tours called The Whole Shebang – a three hour jaunt starting on the top of Nob Hill at Huntington Park, winding down the hill to Union Square, winding through the back alleys of Chinatown, and ending up in the Italian-flavored North Beach.

The first part of this tour reprised much of what we learned when we took one of Foot Tour’s smaller tours last year – Hob Nobbing With Snobs on Nob Hill.

Whole Shebang Tour - Fairmont & the Transamerica PyramidWe won’t recount the Nob Hill portion of the tour, but instead will pick up with the Union Square portion. We visited the St. Francis Hotel on the square, admiring the clock in the lobby that was the meeting place for generations of San Franciscans – at one time, “I’ll meet you under the clock” was as well understood as “I’ll meet you by the Pyramid” would be today.

Another fun fact about this hotel – the original version was several blocks away, and consisted of several mail-order pre-fab homes stacked one upon the other, with rooms separated by burlap curtains. Not quite the upscale accommodations the hotel offers today.

Whole Shebang Tour - Union Square

And even the current structure has gone through some rough times – it was close to completion before the great fire, and took three years to open afterwards.

From the hotel, we strolled past Union Square (where Tony Bennett really did leave his heart) and along Post Street, just a half block from Maiden Lane, which was at one time notorious for prostitution, and now is better known for high-end boutique shops.

Whole Shebang Tour - Gorgeous Little ThingsWe also passed a number of street vendors selling gorgeous little things.

A sharp left took us onto Grant Street, the oldest street in the city and once the edge of the bay, which now sits eight or nine blocks east of here. In fact, during the Gold Rush, so many potential miners came to San Francisco and left their ships to rot that the Bay began to fill, and soon the city was selling lots of underwater “land” – for just $5, you could own a plot, and only had to fill it in to have your own piece of San Francisco Paradise.

From here, we detoured one block east to Kearny – and to the magical elevator. Nice bit of street theater here as our tour guide took us into the parking garage, and assured us that we’d emerge from this magical elevator into Chinatown.

Sure enough, we popped up in St. Mary’s Square on the edge of Chinatown. Although I’ve lived in the Bay Area on and off for almost twenty years, I’ve never really been to Chinatown, and I was pleasantly surprised. The whole thing burned to the ground in the 1906 quake and fire, and although there was a movement to push out the Chinese during the rebuilding effort, it was squashed by the city because they realized how much of the workforce the Chinese laborers provided.

Whole Shebang Tour - Twice Baked BricksAs the district was rebuilt, the American architects used established architectural styles and grafted on some asian influences to create buildings that looked like what they thought Chinese architecture should look like, but in reality were nothing like the real thing you would have found in mainland China at the time.

Many buildings here were built with re-used bricks (see the photo at left) that had come through the fire – twice baked, as it were, and actually now stronger than they were originally, for all that many of them look cracked and fused.

One church that we saw, in particular, blended yellow brick that was among the first of the rebuilding supplies to come by ship around South America with these re-used bricks to make an entirely new structure – see the photo at right.

The touristy Chinatown lies along the district’s main streets, but the real Chinatown lives in the allies.

This area is the most densely populated in the city, and you’ll find a surprising mix of apartments, shops, factories, and artwork along these back-ways.

Whole Shebang Tour - Fortune Cookie FactoryOne thing we found, thanks to our guide, was a small fortune cookie factory. A woman sat in the middle of the narrow, crowded shop, manually folding the round cookie dough into a specially-made tray, and then feeding the cookies into an oven on a little conveyor belt.

We bought some little round cookies made from the same dough – the strawberry ones, in particular, were very good, and the bag didn’t survive past the end of our trip. 🙂

Finally, we emerged into North Beach – the dividing line is a little fuzzy, and for a short stretch you see an Italian store, followed by a Chinese store, and then back into Italy again.

Whole Shebang Tour - Wooden Frame BuildingHere, we saw one of the last sights on the tour – the only wooden-frame building to have survived in the heart of the fire zone, because the owners soaked it in water and draped wet cloths over it, and stayed to put out any sparks that chanced to land on its roof.

We ended the tour in Washington Square. It’s an easy walk from start to finish with only one moderately steep hill, and it was a treat to see some aspects of The City we’d never seen before.  There’s also a lot more wonderful (and often funny) historical information than we had time for here.

Now if I can just remember where that Fortune Cookie factory is…