Chinatown NYC

15 01 2018

10 January 2018

One of my traveling friends, in New York City for a meeting, invited me to join him in the City and we agreed to tour Chinatown. So, on Wednesday morning at 8:15am, I boarded the Metro North train from New Haven to Grand Central Station. Unfortunately, they announced that an unattended bag had been found on the train and the dog sniffer would need to check it out before we could leave. After a short delay, we were transferred to another train, as the dog had not yet arrived. I found it interesting that we were allowed to stay on the train if there was a suspicious object. Another passenger suggested it was because the concern was more likely what could occur once the train arrived in Grand Central Station. That made some sense to me, but I still felt a little bit like collateral damage.

Chinatown bakeryMy friend Jeff and I met near his hotel and we began our walk to Chinatown. It was a brisk but sunny day and perfect for our plans. Before long, we reached Canal Street, checked out the Visitors Kiosk on the corner of Mulberry and headed towards Columbus Square. After being distracted by a bakery on the corner, where we purchased some yummies (chocolate roll cake, almond cookies for me), we made it to the Square.

Chinatown Columbus park

Despite the cold, groups of people huddled around tables and playing cards. I was amazed at how quickly English became a secondary language. Shops were narrow and crowded, with merchandise spewing out into the streets and hawkers trying to entice us into their shops. T-shirts six for ten dollars, how could you go wrong!

Chinatown photo from web aji-ichiban-dried-fruitBy now it was almost noon so we decided to head to the tasty noodle shop recommended by the online walking tour we were using. We paused at the Church of the Transfiguration (home to one of the largest Chinese Roman Catholic congregations), where the English version of mass was being held. We rounded the corner and were diverted by the amazing window display at Aji Ichiban Candy StoreWith small tasting tidbits on each bin (and tasting encouraged), I tried (and bought) the chili mango, kiwi, and longan, while Jeff succumbed to the diced coconut.

Chinatown lunch

We finally made it down Doyer Street, past the old theatre site, to Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles. It was quite full, primarily with people of Asian descent and language. We shared one end of a six-person table with two others were speaking rapidly and excitedly in a Chinese language. The menu was extensive but we quickly picked our soup: pork dumpling with hand-pulled noodles for Jeff and shrimp dumplings with hand-pulled noodles for me. We were given a wonderfully warm pot of hot tea and our meal arrived quickly. It included large pieces of bok choy and the broth was quite delicious. We were soon joined by a single person who sat next to me. Initially, our conversations were polite, related to our bumping elbows. But when Jeff mentioned reading the recent book about Trump, our comments elicited some response and laughter from our companion. It felt nice to connect and hear his comments which included, “Some of us came to this country to avoid this type of government.”

Chinatown forntue 50 (2)We left lunch to visit the Eastern States Buddhist Temple of America and sat in Noble Silence for a few minutes. Offerings included fruits and cans of some type of drink. Lilies and orchids beautified the small alter. We purchased fortune scrolls and Jeff was quite pleased with his, although I was slightly disappointed. After a quick stop at the Fay Da Bakery (chocolate/almond bun and coconut tarts), we walked past the Edward Mooney House corner of Bowery and Pell Street (the oldest brick building in NYC, according to its sign) to the old Citizens Savings Bank (now HSBC). With an entrance flanked by lions, the interior dome was stunning with attractive frescoes painted in four corners depicting success, wisdom, thrift, and safety. The Beaux-Arts building was designated a city landmark in 2011.

Chinatown forntue 1We then crossed the street to the larger Mahayana Buddhist Temple. There we again sat in Noble Silence and watched a woman clean a sparkling column covered with hundreds of Buddha images. I visited small alters in the rear of the main room, where donors placed papers, sometimes with photos of loved ones, for healing or honoring those who have passed. The sanctuary held a large Gong and two taiko-like drums. Upstairs, we visited the museum/gift store and we tried again the fortune scrolls — I liked this one better! We left the temple, outside of which was the busy entrance to the Manhattan Bridge.

We basked in the sunlight a while longer before ending our Chinatown tour. I know this is only a sample of the culture but it’s impressive to be able to experience another world only a few hours from home.

 

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5 responses

15 01 2018
Bryna

This was totally descriptive and reminds me of how much I miss living. In NYC! Thanks for sharing your adventures!

17 01 2018
Beth Lapin

And I bet there are things about NYC you don’t miss! I think every place has its pluses and minuses

16 01 2018
Susan Scott

Thanks Beth, wonderfully descriptive! i’m glad I came along for the ride ..

17 01 2018
Beth Lapin

I wonder if you have similar areas near you?

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