The awesome thing about NYC and going to Chinatown is that when you walk up from the subway onto Canal Street and you're there. It's so easy.
The first thing that happened when we entered the street was a very nice old Chinese lady that I thought had to be confused. She was talking to me in Chinese and I was saying to her, "I'm sorry, I don't understand." Evidently in her dialect of Chinese this means, "Please repeat what you said louder." To which I replied again, as politely as possible, "I'm sorry, I still have no idea what you are saying." Which again, must mean, "Just say that one more time to make sure I get it right." The last time she was just disgusted with me and walked away as two other young Chinese women looked on in great amusement. Later I discovered that "Gucci" is not a coincidental word in Chinese. In an aha moment, and about three other very nice Chinese women later, I realized that they were walking the street trying to sell us purses or perfume, or whatever else they may have had hidden in an unknown location. This brought to mind the words of wisdom from the hotel clerk who said, as we left the hotel, "Remember, don't pay more than $30 for a purse."
The stores were narrow and very crowded, even though it was the middle of the week. The standard phrase of every single clerk was, "I'm going to make the best deal for you." However, you soon learn that they are all mostly the same price with the same deal. A silk scarf is $5 on either side of the street. Yet when you walk around the corner onto Mulberry Street toward Little Italy, which connects with Chinatown, the prices increase. Chinese motive is interchanged with signs for pizza, tiramisu, and the Italian flag. Italian men are on the street in front of the restaurant offering you a seat and a glass of wine. They are quite charming. But most interesting was the monk I saw walking down the street in a brown robe heading to an unknown location. It was like something out of a movie watching this heavy set bald topped man in brown wool with a rope belt moving through the city streets. Leaving the restaurant we found nestled in between two buildings was a Catholic Church down what could have been an alley lined with statues of saints that were hoarding offerings of food and coins to answer the prayers of the believers.
Besides finding excellent pizza, the best tiramisu on the planet, and a place where I could buy fresh cannoli's I was most intrigued by a man that did Chinese calligraphy on the street. He held a small cartoon book with yellowing pages in one hand and a pen in the other where he carefully stroked images onto a white piece of paper. For $5 you can get a picture with your name. For $10 he will frame it. The trick on this one is, however, the name pictures are put on pre-printed factory pictures and not on his beautiful artwork. It is worth $5 to just stand there for a bit and watch him work, however. Not even the people that sold the same name drawings on Staten Island offered the same talent as this man. When I return to NYC I will look for him again.
Although I did not buy a painting we did buy enough in our little trip to have to buy not one but four burlap bags from Nepal to fit our goodies into. Two of these can be seen in the photo from the previous post as Brenda has them wrapped around her neck on the subway as we travel toward our adventure to the Statue of Liberty.