On Saturday afternoon I packed up my camera gear and took Mike along to San Franciscoís Chinatown. Iím currently taking a class on San Franciscoís history and I needed to get some pictures for a presentation.
I always felt that there are actually two Chinatowns in San Francisco: one for tourists and another one for locals. I wasnít interested in the kitsch of Grant Street with its stylized Chinese architecture and plastic Buddhas. Instead, I headed to the place where locals spend their time: Stockton Street. We started by walking without the cameras up and down Stockton, adjoining alleys and peeking into the stores and grocery markets while listening and looking at the people. We tried to catch the spirit of Chinatown, to understand it a bit better.
I was hoping that people in this area are so used to crowds of tourists armed with all kinds of cameras that they wouldn’t mind me. It was a pretty busy afternoon and luckily not too many people took notice.
I especially liked the markets: they were so full of life! It was getting close to the end of the day and in efforts to sell off the remaining produce the store owners were lowering prices and putting fruits and vegetables on the sidewalks. These sellers were also yelling out what seemed to be names and prices. While being caught up in this experience it wasn’t hard to imagine myself actually being in China: there were smells of unknown exotic veggies, fruits, and all kinds of unrecognizable seafood.