NYC Daytrip — Exploring Chinatown

My university is only about fifteen miles away from the lively and booming heart of Manhattan. I figured after winter break, I would take advantage of this more often, as I only visited the city a handful of time in the fall semester. Luckily, my schedule allows for Fridays off, a perfect opportunity to get away and escape to the city. The train from my university takes me straight into Penn Station and from there, the D train took me to Chinatown.

Communities are created and strengthened with the influx of immigrants, such as Chinatown, Ktown, or Little Italy. These pockets of New York City were created by people of similar cultures grouping together. From this, Chinatown was born. Chinatown was also known as “The Bachelor’s Society” because of the ratio of men and women living in the area. There was a significantly less number of women compared to men. In 1943, the Exclusion Act was repealed, and the number of Chinese immigrants started to increase in the 40’s and 50’s. Ever since, Chinatown has grown with the increasing Chinese owned businesses flourishing. Traditional Chinese shops stay in their rightful and historical place for the Chinese people of New York City to enjoy.

The first Chinese snack I treated myself to was a pork bun. Pork buns are often found in the bakeries. If you’re ever in the area and are curious as to what a good pork bun tastes like, “Mei Li Wah” is the place to go. A pork bun consists of cubed barbeque pork and sauce inside of a baked sweet bread. I took my pork bun to go and found a great place for bubble milk tea called “CoCo.” There, I ordered hoji tea with bubbles and thirty percent sugar. This tea is delicious as well as refreshing.

There is so much in Chinatown that I had never seen or experienced before. A perfect example of this is “durian.” Durian is Southern Asian fruit which earns its name as the “king of fruits”. Durian is also known for having a particularly strong scent.  I bent down and smelt the fresh durian for sale in the Chinatown fruit markets and observed it to have a very sweet scent. It was neither pleasant or unpleasant.

In Chinatown, there is so much to see. There are kiosks for Chinese decorations and lanterns. The theme of the color red paints the streets, to symbolize good fortune. You’re bound to see something different if you walk through Chinatown, whether it be gnarly looking mushrooms, dried fish, or fresh fruit markets.

Ultimately, my time spent in Chinatown was quite enjoyable. Next time I have a free Friday, I will definitely bring along friends to enjoy pork buns and bubble milk tea with too! It’s always fun to step out of your comfort zone and experience something totally new to yourself. Learning new things of the world and what it has to offer is exhilarating. Try welcoming new experiences into your life this new year.