Outside the Chinese Historical Society of America's museum housed in the former Chinatown YWCA.
Phoebe embracing her inner tacky tourist.
Of course, what is a trip to Chinatown without Chinese tamales?
Getting soaked on a bay tour, but we did get to make a wish as we passed beneath the Golden Gate...it was awesome.
Phoebe and I have decided that San Francisco incorporates many of the best elements of our favorite American cities. It has the culture and class of an east coast city while maintaining the easy going nature of California. You might say it traverses cultural boundaries...
Our weekend was fantastic and we had a lot of fun just taking it easy. Friday night we went out for the greatest Thai food in existence, and kicked back at the King George Hotel downtown. Saturday we rode cable cars, had amazing sourdough french toast, visited the Chinese Historical Society of America, explored Chinatown, drank boba, strolled along the waterfront, bought salt water taffy, took a bay tour, got soaked, shopped for new clothes and had the greatest dinner of our lives at Fog City Diner. But that's not all! Sunday we blew copious amounts of money on an incredible dim sum brunch, rode more cable cars, hung out in union square, saw the SF Museum of Modern Art (with a dynamite exhibition of Lee Friedlander's photography), went shopping and did it all in time to board a 9pm flight back to our home away from home, LA.
Yeah, that's our twisted version of an easy-going relaxed weekend. Only about 24 hours left here in the city of angels. Today we are going to breakfast and organizing our comments and suggestions for CAM museum staff. We have seen/learned so much. It has been incredible, and tonight, to cap it all off, we are going to the Dodgers game with our dear Sylvia.
Going to be hard to get on that plane back to CO...
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.
As of five minutes ago Pheebs and I have officially completed cataloguing David S. Soo Hoo's enormous scrapbook! In celebration we are going to give ourselves a weekend trip to San Francisco. But first, this evening, we are going to take a brief tour of UCLA with a former classmate of Phoebe's and go out for some Indian food.
Our blogging may be a little scattered for the next few days, but stay tuned.
Life this morning was a little happier for me because we picked up some Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on the way to work; I so enjoy being caffeinated. Soon after cracking open the Soo Hoo scrapbook, we received a phone call from Pauline Wong, who told us to make our way across the plaza to the Biscaluz building because there was a field trip ahead of us…we were going to Little Tokyo. After venturing into Little Tokyo for our first bite of Pinkberry on day 2, Elena and I made it one of our goals to return and explore the area some more. Sadly, public transportation has skewed my sense of travel time (a 15 minute drive takes 45 minute via pub trans) and I wasn’t thrilled about making a trek to Little Tokyo. Much to my surprise, Little Tokyo is within walking distance. Yet again, public transportation has foiled me…BAH!
I would like to describe today as among our most successful eating days in California thus far. For lunch we had Japanese curry at a Curry House, a Californian chain. As any one who knows my eating habits (cough cough, my mother), I generally do not appreciate the thick consistency of Japanese curry. Tastily enough, I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch of shrimp and onion ring katsu. Conversation with Pauline Wong and Steven Tran was deliciously engaging as well, we discussed: gender disparities in China and India, places where populations are shrinking, robot babies, physical therapy for dogs, and male prostitutes for middle-aged Japanese women.
Following lunch, Elena and I were dropped off at the Japanese American National Museum nearby, which is the most outstanding ethnic minority museum in Los Angeles (according to Pauline Wong). And the JANM is indeed impressive, with beautifully displayed exhibits, conference rooms, and its own archive/ resource library. The JANM was the brainchild of businessmen in LA’s Little Tokyo in 1982; from this beginning, they expanded and later moved into a more extensive space in 1992. Across the way from the JANM is also the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, which informs people about the many individuals from all backgrounds who have shaped American democracy. After comparing and ruminating about the storytelling methods of the CAM and JANM, I fully understand the difficulties in creating a seamless history, which is not only educational, but tasteful and not offensive.
On a (much) lighter note, Elena and I visited Pinkberry after seriously contemplating the Chinese American narrative. We shared a medium-sized regular with captain crunch, mochi, and strawberries…tasty!
me in the plaza
Upon our return to the El Pueblo Historical Monument, Elena and I set to the task of editing text on Chinese New Year festivities. With our prowess in languages, we edited the piece in not one, not two, but, three different languages. Though I must admit my traditional Chinese reading abilities are a pretty rusty.
After leaving the office at 6:00p, Elena and I were successful in locating an Armenian restaurant in Glendale, supposedly the largest community of Armenians outside of Armenia. Funnily enough, the restaurant is called Elena’s Greek and Armenian Restaurant. We ordered far too much food (a plate of quail, shish and lamb, tabule, and falafel) and enjoyed every bite of it. Though we didn’t get to Zankou chicken, the Armenian food we had at Elena’s was scrumptious.
At this point in our trip Elena and I are desperately trying to cram in as much as we can. It will be pretty much impossible for us to get to everything done on our list. I suppose I will just have to come back next year…