Seeing the Sights today

Trip Start Sep 14, 2010
Trip End Oct 09, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hi Virginians!

Today we did a walking tour of Chinatown guided by Linda Lee who lived there all her life.  She certainly knew a lot about Chinatown and told us a lot of interesting things.  I am glad we took the tour as we never would have found the things she told us by walking around on our own.

On the first part of our walk, she took us into an herb shop or something like that, which smelled very bad, but it had lots of different things that would make you feel better.  For example they had: lizards, centipedes, scorpions, dinosaur bones, and placenta cakes.  

They examined mine and Linda Lee's tongue to show how a healthy child's tongue looked different than an older person's tongue.  Really they didn't look that much different.  

Then we went to the fortune cookie factory where we saw the processing of fortune cookies and they showed us how they got the little piece of paper into the fortune cookie.  We bought a 6 pack of fortune cookies with the paper in them, but Linda Lee gave me a whole bag of the flat fortune cookies which are delicious.   Flat fortune cookies are before they put paper in them and fold them in half.

Linda Lee also showed us the Chinese market which was interesting.  She showed us how they kept their animals alive such as the bullfrogs, the turtles, the fish, the chickens, and pretty much everything you bought.  We also got to see them dicing up live eels, trout, and some kind of mushy, bloody stuff.

After the tour we went to eat lunch at an original China house called the Great Eastern.  Once in there we saw it was packed and looked forward to a great meal.  Unfortunately we saw that everyone was using chopsticks which frightened us as we did not know how to use chopsticks.  Once we got our table and sat down, we looked over the menu and discovered that this was not "Top's China".  This is CHINESE.  Da-da-da-donnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!  Everything on the menu sounded either raw or gooey, which Linda Lee said the Chinese like their food chewy and gooey.  Bleck.  I ended up getting the Won-Ton soup, Dad got a chewy, a gooey, and spare ribs which were bone, gristle, and fat- pretty nasty- you get the picture.  Mom got the sweet and sour chicken that was pretty good, but we made a mess with the chopsticks and the chicken flying all over the table.  We actually looked so bad, that the waiter brought us a lone fork.

Following this saga, we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and walked across it.  It was definitely different from what you hear from all the TV shows.  It was nice but very windy.  We then ate in a little pizza place which was good and strolled around town.  We visited a candy shop which gave you your own basket and you walked around and just piled up all the candy that you want because all the candy was the same price.  As we were checking out I asked if I could have a sample of the caramel popcorn that was sitting out on the counter.  The elderly gentleman said I could have some of course, and for a beautiful boy like me I could have a whole bag.  How embarrassing!   I took the bag with many smiles and said in the you know what tone "Let's get out of here dad".

That pretty much concludes our days adventures.  Just remember- eat Top's China and not real Chinese food.


We had a wonderful nights sleep and woke up excited about our morning Chinatown Walking tour.   The trolley car ran right to where we needed to meet so we took that up to California Street.  It was so much fun riding the trolley car UP all of the hills-ha.  This was also much faster than walking!!

Our guide was Linda Lee with the All About Chinatown walking tours.  She was born and raised in Chinatown and provides a unique opportunity to learn about how the Chinese people came to San Francisco.  We went into many interesting places, but here are some of the highlights:  Herbal Pharmacy, the Fortune Cookie Factory, the Stockton Food market, Waverly Place (where the Chinese Social Clubs are located), and a Buddhist Temple. 

Probably the two favorites were the Fortune Cookie Factory and the Stockton Food market.  The Fortune Cookie Factory showed us how they make the cookies, pull them off of the hot plate (they look like a silver dollar pancake), the "fortune" is inserted, then the pancake is folded into what we know as the fortune cookie shape.  It was interesting to hear that the Fortune Cookie was designed/invented in San Francisco and they are not served in China!

The Stockton Food market was a very educational and cultural experience.  This market sells everything you can think of for people to cook- live chickens (Rhode Island Reds and Silkies), pigeons, doves, turtles, frogs, fish of every type, eggs, vegetables, fruits- you name it and it was there! 

Linda also explained that many of the children in Chinatown attend American school and then attend Chinese school from 3:30-6:30 each day.  She made the comment that in China the youngest are expected to do the most work and she had Noah carry the fortune cookies for the group and to continually offer them to the group for their enjoyment.  He did a fine job if I may brag.  James and I were thinking that we must have some Chinese in us as we also believe the youngest should do the most work-ha.  The tour was very interesting- we all thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

We ate lunch at the Great Eastern Chinese Restaurant on our own.   Like Chinatown it was jam packed with folks.  We got a table after about 20 minutes and then ordered.  Noah and I stuck to what we knew, but James tried some Dim Sum dishes of various kinds and liked 2 of the 3.  The utensils are chopsticks- I never got the hang of them.  
We walked around a bit and tried to figure out how to get back to our hotel.  We laid around in the room for a bit and listened to our last CD of The Hobbit which Christine and Bob H. loaned us.  We felt we needed to get a bit of rest before we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge!

The drive to the Golden Gate Bridge was really easy- there is a parking lot over there with tons of spaces.  We parked and headed out on the bridge.  James kept calling San Francisco "The Windy City" and I kept correcting him UNTIL we got on the bridge.  It was very chilly even though the temperature was about 78 at the time.  The wind whips across the water and you feel very chilled walking on the bridge.  At one point we thought about riding bikes across the bridge, but I didn't think I was in good enough shape for that so we walked.  Later we saw they had 2 seater bikes and I felt certain I could have done one of those with James doing the bulk of the work-ha.

Sausalito is the town right across the GGB.  It was very quaint.  It seems to be a little waterfront village with lots of shops and restaurants at a marina.  We were so hungry we just stopped in a pizza place and ate (sorry Chris- we didn't get to "HOME") and then went to the candy store.  Noah said he liked Sausalito better than San Francisco because it wasn't as busy.

We then came back to Fisherman's Wharf and did a little shopping.  We saw a lot of homeless people and didn't know if the numbers were up due to the economy out here or not.  We saw a few street performers and wandered in all the stores viewing their wares- many which had shirts that said "Alcatraz Inmate".  

I have no idea if we got a true feel of the city in two days, but we felt like this was a city that had lots of neat things to do.  Like San Diego it seemed like there were lots of dog lovers out here and they seemed to be welcome in many places!

Tomorrow we are on the road again- five hours to Yosemite.

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amy on

Noah, I guffawed at your comments...I'm with you - I'm not into squishy, raw or slimy food. But I definitely like the candy!!

rick on

How was the rice-a-roni, the San Francisco treat? I'm told it's great with chop sticks.

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