New York is amazing, but I think my favorite neighborhood has to be Chinatown.
First, it’s the smells. Smell, you realize, is the first of the five senses to develop in a child, the most primitive of our senses, and it’s connected directly to our emotional center. Evokes an instant gut reaction, no matter how rational you think you are.
Judging by smell, Chinatown is totally schizophrenic. Fish markets are common; roast duck hung by the neck can be seen from time to time in store windows. Next door, dumpling shops and noodle vendors release marvellous cooking smells into the streets. And the shops burn incense, and have furniture and other items carved from sandalwood and cedar and camphor, so you have those smells too.
Chinatown has its share of street vendors, but while some of the items being sold were tacky, I don’t think they were illegal. Certainly I saw no fakes being peddled there. The colors were what you noticed here, as well as in front of shops where clearance goods are set out to sell fast. Deep green jades and brown woods are decorated with inlay or paints, and fans of all descriptions are painted in beautiful colors.
The best part is the price. Where else can you find a full-size bo for ten or twenty dollars, or katana and wakizashi blades for as little as thirty? I confess to buying what I could for my family for Christmas – easy since my mother collects painted Chinese pots – and gawking at the rest. Mah-jongg sets, compasses complete with levelers, water wheels, travel kits – all at amazing prices, often half what you’d pay at an import store.
If you go to New York, Chinatown is a must. It cannot be shown in pictures nor described in words.
I am in love with it.
[tags]city breaks, new york, new yorkers, chinatown, shopping, herbal medicine, cooking[/tags]