An early start to a busy day, this is perhaps the most compact day of our trip.
“Rise and shine everyone, we’re leaving the house at 9:00 for Dim Sum!.” Okay, that actually didn’t happen but it sure was supposed to. Everyone woke up late and we ended up just cooking noodles at the house for breakfast. Looking back, I’m sure that Dim Sum would have kept us much more awake and trust me, we needed that energy.
We rushed to our first stop, the Carrall Street Greenway immediately after breakfast. The greenway system is an eco-friendly street project built along various streets throughout the Vancouver area. The greenway was built in hopes of maintaining pedestrian safety, creating open and flexible spaces, and balancing the streets for pedestrians, bikers, and drivers. Anyway, we met with David, one of the greenway project designers. Under our time constraint, he provided a short tour for us and I have two major takeaways. First are the huge, separated bike lanes that I dream for in San Francisco(sadly, this might be a bit hard to implement in SF..). Second is the water collection system built along the greenways. This was a great idea in theory, but negligence and improper maintenance eventually led to it’s downfall. Sadly, the water collection system no longer functions.
The rush continued. We made our way towards Downtown Eastside to catch a tour from “Tour Guys”, and we caught them—just a bit late. The tour group was extremely huge, nearing 30-40 people at the end of the tour and there was only on tour guide. For such an enormous group, I must say that she did a fantastic job. The tour, as an overview was a walk from Downtown Eastside to Dr.Sun Yat Sen Garden(near the end of Chinatown). The supposed theme was old v.s. new Chinatown, but I also feel that racism is an essential theme. Our tour guide covered mainly the infrastructure and development of Chinatown, but what really struck me was her story of the Shanghai Alley. Shanghai Alley—a tiny alleyway that was once home to one thousand chinese residents. Everything was fine and dandy but in the beginning of the 20th century, anti-Asian acts started occurring. Jobs were obscure, and Asians were the first ones to be blamed. An anti-Asian group decided to raid and demolish the buildings of Shanghai Alley. Unfortunately, the residents were not ready for such a large-scale attack. There was resistance, but it’s hard to resist to firepower. That wasn’t enough for them. They went on to raid Japantown, and this time the Japanese were aware of the attack. They resisted the attack, and though they were unsuccessful, it is significant to that they banded together to preserve and protect their community.
Anyway, if anyone from “Tour Guys” is reading our blogs, thanks for giving us the amazing tour!
We headed back to Downtown Eastside to meet with two planners, Helen and Wesley. They presented to us their plan to revive Vancouver’s Chinatown, the “Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan & Economic Revitalization Strategy”. All the data and statistics are there, but it seems that the plan itself is still in brainstorming stage. I’m not going to go too in depth about the plan, but it’s a great start. There’s a long way to go, but the people that I met with today seem dedicated enough to make it happen. I wish good luck to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Chinatown!
The last stop of our trip was Gold Stone Bakery, where we met Doris and her soon to be(hopefully) youth organization. I have already shared most of my tips and personal experiences with them, so all I can offer now is my hopes and blessings towards the success of their youth group and of the revitalization of Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Btw, I gave up on the Mcdonald’s count. Not that I lost count, it’s just—been a while…