When I visited Chinatown in Vancouver, I must say I was a bit disappointed. After reading about the Chinese ties to the city, I expected something, well, a bit more Chinese. Instead, I found an older part of the city that had a lot of storefronts with Chinese writing above them. There was a large gate that marked the entrance to the area, but once past that if I ignored the writing, I could have been in just about any older city.
Victoria was different. Although the Chinatown neighborhood was considerably smaller, it was much prettier. It had all of the trappings that I had expected to find in Vancouver’s Chinatown. There were hanging lanterns, an ornate gate, stylized street lamps, and even cherry trees in full bloom. Okay, so the cherry trees are more associated with Japan than China, but they were still beautiful.
I suppose every community that has a Chinatown has some unique cultural or geographic oddity. In Victoria, it is Fan Tan Alley. Reportedly, Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest street in Canada. It certainly would be difficult to imagine a street that would be smaller. My wife was able to easily brace her arms against both walls, so the alley is certainly less than six feet wide in spots.
All in all, I enjoyed hanging out in Chinatown. In the two days we were in Victoria, I visited there three times looking for the right light and compositions. I don’t know that I got any world-class images from my excursions, but I certainly enjoyed wandering around the area and soaking up the atmosphere.