Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Short travel reflection: Chinatown

“Chinatown” – a thought occurred to me as I was walking through San Francisco’s Chinatown, where I began to wonder what “locals” or “natives” of a city think of these ethnic communities. Do they seem out of place? Are they respected and appreciated as a place to connect with one’s roots, or are they frowned upon as a sign of the lack of integration/assimilation? Are the residents here (or the people who dwell here) still considered as foreigners?

These questions have never occurred to me especially because I live in Toronto, where Scarborough itself is like a sparse Chinatown with various Chinese communities. I was never too interested in or fascinated by Chinatowns until I saw the one in San Francisco and began to actually ponder the existence of such neighbourhoods. And why are they tourist attractions? I don’t really get it.

I sometimes think that it’s not that a group of people – say the Chinese – don’t want to integrate into society. It’s that when they try, they are not really accepted by the local or native communities. They don’t fit in, because they can’t fit in, and so they stick with their own kind. This is simply my speculation. I should consult a professional on East Asian studies on this matter.

San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the largest and most impressive in North America. (Photo taken on November 15, 2017.)

4 responses to “Short travel reflection: Chinatown

  1. Island Traveler March 3, 2018 at 22:20

    Part true, but I think it’s also about preserving culture & heritage. I wish there is a Filipino town somewhere in San Francisco as Filipino population are just as many as Chinese migrants, but sadly none. I think it’s a great thing to educate the new generation the importance of their culture and roots, after all America is a land of migrants which makes it truly great & amazing.


    • Annie Bananie March 4, 2018 at 03:23

      Thanks for our insight! I had indeed begun to appreciate the heritage towns more so than before and see how unique and important they can be for cultures in a foreign land. Perhaps there is a Filipino town in Toronto here where I live… I’m unsure unfortunately!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael Elkin September 13, 2018 at 20:12

    Hi Annie, coming from a typical LA suburb, the China towns of LA and San Francisco were always intriguing and mysterious places for me. I loved the architecture, the food (BBQ Pork Won Ton Noodle Soup!, Pho!), the old folks playing Mah Jong and chess in the park, the New Year Parade (Dragon Dancers!, firecrakers!, Lion Dancers!). I feel the ethnic communities including the Mission in SF, Little Saigon in San Jose, Japan Town in SF, Korea Town in LA, etc., along with the China towns are very important. They bring richness to our society. It helps us to understand better who we are as a people in the USA… we are diverse, we come from all places, and we are richer for that. And it motivated me to go out into the world and see and better understand the source for all of this richness.


    • Annie Bananie September 13, 2018 at 13:35

      Thanks Michael, that’s some great insight. Now I’m back in my home country (China) and living as a semi-foreigner / expat so that’s quite an experience too. Definitely some (reverse?) culture shock here in a more homogeneous environment, and I certainly do miss the diversity back in Canada!


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