Saturday, May 3, 2008

Outside of one of Chinatown's trendiest shops, Realm.

Phoebe and I after lunch with Sheryl.
Small herbalist shop in Chinatown that specializes in shark fin!

Today was another splendid day in the great state of California! This morning we were up bright and early with our bags packed for San Francisco. We arrived at the historical society and were treated to a wonderful walking tour of Chinatown with the ever-charming Eugene Moy.

Gene has encyclopedic knowledge of Chinatown and Los Angeles history. He was a spectacular tourguide and showed us so much. I am not sure where to even begin. We started our tour looking out over the bluff that Chinatown currently sits on to an urban farming project and the Los Angeles river. Gene gave us a brief run down on the old zanja system and showed us some of the physical remnants. It was pretty sweet.

We then made our way through New Chinatown and discussed all the different clan organizations. Phoebe and I noticed that all the association buildings were flying two flags: the American flag and that of the Kuomingtang, also known as the national flag of Taiwan. We found this surprising, and Gene explained that during the Cold War the inhabitants of Chinatown had been extremely vocal in their support of the Kuomingtang. There is only ONE red Chinese flag flying in Chinatown, and it was raised by Dave Lee who flew in the face of the Los Angeles Chinese community in asserting his belief that maitaining good relations with the motherland was more important.

Gene took us by schools, sewing shops, herbalists, groceries and temples. One of the temples we went to was extremely beautiful, having been completely rebuilt just a few years ago. He took us in and we were able to leave offerings for Matsu, a Chinese Goddess of the sea. It was a very interesting peek into the syncrectic religion and culture that pervades Chinatown. It is no longer uniquely Chinese, rather it is a shifting culture that has grown to incorporate elements of Southeast Asian, new wave Chinese and even Latino customs as well. Gene was also quick to note the changing nature of Chinatown.

Phoebe and I agreed that the comprehensive tour of Chinatown was indeed a good way to begin wrapping up our time at CAM. We were also lucky enough to have a nice lunch with many of our CAM co-workers this afternoon. It was sad we didn't get to spend more time with Sheryl, the collections manager, as she will be gone again when we return on Monday. She is really the person who made our time in LA possible. It was hard for me to say goodbye to her today, but I am sure I will see her again soon. CAM has begun to feel a lot like home, a place I could be long term...

Well, we are safe in San Francisco. We got to the airport, through security and off the plane without any trouble. We rode the BART into the city and made our way to the King George Hotel. Then we took a good recommendation and had some of the BEST Thai food in existence for dinner...It's going to be an amazing weekend.