2013, Trip Six, The Northwest, August 2

      Vancouver, Friday August 2
Chinatown gate

Chinatown gate

I spoke too soon yesterday. The rains came today, although more of a drizzle than a downpour. We broke out the umbrellas and had our jackets so the walking was not a problem.

Our primary activity today was the visit to Chinatown, in particular the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This was the first such garden built outside of China. It is modeled on the type of garden/home that would have belonged to a scholar during the Ming Dynasty era, the 1500s.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Our docent (Thomas) gave a very enlightening talk. You know I am not a feng shui type of person but he explained many elements that went into building the garden. The trees complement each other, the circle and square openings each have their purpose. The stones in the walkway represent ancient life meanings, etc.

The garden was modeled on a traditional garden in Suzhou, which would have been comparable to Venice during the Renaissance era.
The garden was built by 53 master craftsmen from China. The building was constructed in the traditional methods of the 1500s, no screws, nails, etc. The wood carving was detailed but not ostentatiously elaborate.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden

A “scholar” in the 1500s was at the top of the pecking order and the garden allowed for reflection, public meetings, and private time. A scholar reached that pinnacle through study and had to be re-tested and re-certified every five years.

This being a rainy day, the docent explained that the weather in Vancouver (frequently gray, wet, and mild in climate) was not that different than Suzhou. The walkways had overhangs so you could walk without getting wet. Water is an important element in Chinese art and culture so the garden and rainy weather are good companions.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden

At the end of the walk, they served us tea and Chris had an opportunity to talk with a woman from Rochester NY who is traveling around Canada. She is retired and has had some fascinating experiences, including time in Thailand at a yoga camp and elephant refuge.

We walked by another welcoming gate and the world’s narrowest building–6 foot. It does extend for a full city block. Our walk next led us to Gastown, the original part of Vancouver. As you might expect, the area had its beginning due to a man who set up the first saloon, Gassy Jack, which attracted the miners, lumbermen, mariners, etc. We had to make our way through Vancouver’s skid row district going between Chinatown and Gastown.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden

Lunch was in Gastown. We ate at a cafe across the street from the Steam Clock. There are only two in the world, this is the original. It is powered by steam used to heat buildings in the downtown area. Steam erupts every 15 minutes and on the hour the steam plays Westminster chimes. Tourists, like us, flock around waiting for it to go off.

Gastown is a trendy area with shops, bars, and restaurants. Once again, our penchant to keep our money in our own hands meant we did not spend an inordinate amount of time here.

Steam Clock in Gastown

Steam Clock in Gastown

Our final stop was at Bill Reid’s gallery. We had discussed going to the Vancouver Art Gallery (Museum) but at $20 a head, we thought it a bit pricey. The Bill Reid is small and focuses on the art of the Northwest and First Nations. It was so-so.

We came back to the apartment and are spending the rest of the day in detailed planning for our next week and broad brush planning for the trip to Upper Michigan in early September.

As in any large city, there are other attractions in Vancouver which we did not see. They will have to wait for another adventure. The downtown traffic has seemed very slow at any time of the day, so walking rather than driving has been a wise decision.

Ed and Chris August 2 9 pm

Evidently this did not get published Friday night. Sorry about that. Ed Sunday 7:30 pm

Categories: road trip, travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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