Waking up at 4 is not part of my daily routine as this might apply to some certain people. After meeting up with everyone in front of the Alaska Airlines counter, we headed inside to wait for the boarding. We landed in the Seattle Airport a little less than two hours for the plane ride. While we started to do our urban observation on the streets of Seattle, we made our way to the Green Tortoise Hostel located near the Pike Place Market, which is the equivalent of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. Since the hostel is located at the center of downtown, which is a very busy district, surrounding our hostel are shops and restaurants which makes it very convenient for us to get food or to buy any supplies or daily commodities. While we were waiting for our rooms, we visited and toured around the Pike Place Market to explore and to look for food. Similar to Fisherman's Wharf, the Pike Place Market has many fresh seafood and food for sell such as clam chowder, which is also popular in SF. What struck me the most in the market was the place that sold olive oil with the samples provided. I found this special because of the many different flavors of the olive oil that they have. Despite the population dense in the market, it was a very nice place to visit!
After we settled down in our hostel, we headed to the Wing Luke Museum, which is located in the International District/Chinatown. We were scheduled for a tour given by a tour guide named John in the museum. During the tour, he told us information about the Asian American history, especially about the immigrants who came to America. The struggles that the immigrants went through were somewhat similar to the ones in San Francisco. When many of the immigrants first arrived to this new country, they had a hard time adapting to the new living environment and working condition. Similar to the case in San Francisco, many immigrants in Seattle also settled in small living spaces such as SROs (Single Room Occupancies). Due to the limited amount of money they had, these were what most immigrants can only afford to live in. When I first heard the word SRO on the tour, it brought up my attention and awareness. I was a bit surprised when I discovered that SROs also took place in the history behind the Seattle's Asian American community. This part of the tour stood out to me because I can relate this back to the history of our community in our own city. Similar to SF, Seattle also had a Manilatown designated for Filipino immigrants. However, since there are not much Filipinos in its city today, Manilatown no longer exist. Back in Seattle's history, waves of immigrants arrived in the city working in poor working condition and low wages, since they were limited in the field areas of work that they are capable of doing. Another difficult task for immigrants to do was to assimilate into American culture that they were unfamiliar with in the beginning. In history, this time period was known as benevolent assimilation. In order to be considered as Americans, these immigrants took the time to learn to adapt to the new culture, meanwhile preserving and continuing to practice the culture and traditions of their own nations. Of course, during this process, racism and stereotypes occurred, and that was one of the reasons why the family associations were created. Like the ones we have in San Francisco, Seattle also has many family associations in which they were created and formed by those who shared the same last names to help and support each other. These family associations helped people to preserve their community and advocate for what they want. They also served the purpose of bringing people together in a union to create a stronger force that reflects their power. This is similar to the case of San Francisco back in the history, where many family associations also united together to fight for what they need and to preserve their community.
Seattle's Chinatown is a more peaceful and calm neighborhood compared to the one in San Francisco. Personally, I am used to the more lively and thriving atmosphere in our own Chinatown, and I believe that most of us feel the same way too. The crowded Chinatown neighborhood is a sign of our homeland of San Francisco, with it being one of our city's most popular dense neighborhood. SF's Chinatown is often described as a square, literally a four by six block area. There are many restaurants and stores that sell merchandise, groceries, poultry, etc. Many local Chinatown residents and people from different neighborhoods all over the city would come to this neighborhood daily, or at least often enough, to buy reasonable and cheap priced groceries and other commodities. Besides this, SF Chinatown is also a very friendly place for tourists to travel around. In the neighborhood, there is a street that is designated for local residents, and another street for tourists to buy their souvenirs and explore the area. Overall, the Chinatown in SF is a place of prosperity as well as a "home" to me. Every time I step into Chinatown, I feel as if I'm going back home, although I live in a different neighborhood, one that takes about a one hour commute time to this second home. In contrast to SF's, Seattle's Chinatown has less people lingering around the area. While walking on the streets of Seattle's Chinatown, we obviously see less people on the streets. There are a few stores and restaurants in the neighborhood, but from what I observed, there weren't many grocery shops. Unlike SF's Chinatown, it doesn't seem to be that there are any rush hour periods in Seattle's Chinatown, whereas in our city, the neighborhood is packed with people everyday in the morning and the late afternoon. It would be somewhat hard for us if we were to adapt to this new environment in Seattle's Chinatown. I feel that Seattle's Chinatown is a quite pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, with its respective street designs and some greenery around the neighborhood. Similar to SF's, I feel that Seattle's Chinatown provides a warm welcoming feeling to its visitors. Overall, I feel that Seattle's Chinatown is lacking the prosperity that many of us need and which is already used to in our own city, but despite that it is a warm and welcoming community!
After visiting the Wing Luke Museum, we went to explore the International District. We walked into several stores and places, including a book store and the Uwajimaya supermarket. We also decided to eat hot pot for dinner on a very hot day and experienced the Boiling Point in Seattle together. Our final stop for the first day of the trip was the well-known Seattle Space Needle in which we travelled to the top of the building with a 41 second elevator ride. The Space Needle is a spectacular observation landmark that allows people to view the city from all different angles since it is a 360 degrees platform. We stayed at the Space Needle from around sunset until the night. Seeing the city transforming from daytime to nighttime was a very nice experience to observe the city from high above. Enjoying the beautiful and grand scenery from the highest point in the city of Seattle was a great way to end our day!
- Shirley Tsang