Day 3. I can't even remember yesterday anymore! I can barely remember this morning. Oh, yeah! It's coming back . . .
After a delightful breakfast served by our B&B owner, we strolled over to catch the SkyTrain over to Chinatown. Our targets were the Scholar's Garden and Hon's Won Ton house. We opted for the paid tour of the Garden. It's built in the style of a scholar's garden during the Ming dynasty (we also opted for the tour).
Side note: on the tour of the museum of First Nation artifacts yesterday, and today, on the tour of a Chinese scholar's garden, in one of the oldest Chinatowns in the Americas, the tours were led by old white women. Hmm . . .
Anyway, the guy who paid to have the garden built imported stone from a lake in China where the acidic water in the lake eats away at the limestone of the rock and creates wild formations. The men who built the 'mountain' in the heart of the garden took six months. They moved all the stone using Ming era mechanisms (can you say bamboo pulleys and bamboo hardhats?). Yesterday we visited a Japanese garden on the UBC campus which was nice, but felt a bit park-like, yet somehow fairly artificial. The Chinese garden, with it's bonsai trees (can't remember the Chinese word for it), imported rock, moon windows, lattice walls and crafted bridges, somehow felt more meditative and more evocative.
Jrex had the camera most of the time . . . (he used to get SO impatient when his father took pictures. Love the irony.) I love watching him get absorbed in finding the best angle for a shot.
We then set off to try to find the Won Ton house. On the way, we took a random turn and seemed to step out of Chinatown. As we walked down a small street, I looked to the left into a broad sunlit alley. There was a cluster of white people sitting and squatting on the ground. One woman lay on her back in the middle of the clump. What are they doing? Is she ok? And then I saw that the man on her left held a needle and the other people on her right were swaying back and forth as if mesmerized as he shot her up. We turned left on Hastings street and saw a long line of junkies across the street with grocery carts mounded full of cans and bottles. They stood in front of the bottle reclamation store. On both sides of the street, gaunt white folk hovered. Not begging, just swaying as they waited for whatever came next.
Whew. Another left and we ducked back into the tourist mall of Chinatown. Just one block made all the difference in the world. Before coming here, I'd heard over and over how clean and safe it was in Vancouver. Most of the places we've seen have seemed that way. Some have seemed a bit quirky, a bit edgy, but not ever dangerous. Hastings street? I felt like we'd stepped into one of those horror movies where the living dead can taste it when someone with actual blood steps into town.