This area, located in the vicinity of North Beretania and Nu’uanu Streets and extending towards Honolulu Harbor, is known for its Chinese American community. The area, which is one of the oldest Chinatowns in the United States, is filled with fabulous restaurants and eateries, ranging from incredible Chinese Dim Sum, to Vietnamese, Malaysian and an array of international fare.
The open-air Oahu Market is a central part of Chinatown. The Maunakea, Oahu and Aloha marketplaces boast exotic fruits, seafood, and all kinds of Chinese vegetables. Shrines and temples flourish and will transport you back in time to historic Japan and China. The area became populated with people of Chinese descent because of laborers coming from China to work on Hawaii’s sugar plantations in the 19th century. After their contracts expired, many of them moved to the area that is now called Chinatown and became merchants.
Many buildings date from 1901 due to two devastating fires in 1886 and 1900 that destroyed many of the original buildings. The area was enduring a terrible plague and the second fire was deliberately lit with the goal of burning buildings that had housed people with the disease. Unfortunately, that fire blazed out of control and devoured almost all of Chinatown. Still, the area was rebuilt again, although eventually large parts of it fell into a state of disrepair. Crime became a serious problem. Many areas are still considered unsafe after dark.
We started out on our usual route into town, it was a wonderful drive in, with not too much traffic. We found parking easily and struck out on foot into Chinatown. I know the history of Chinatown and was ready to see some of the dreary buildings that still exists down there. Also, Gene forewarned us to not go on side streets and to stay on the main streets because it could be a little dangerous. We obeyed and what I ended up finding was unique architectural structures, a vibrant shopping experience, and very nice people smiling at you every time they passed by you. I can see where at night it might be a little scary, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to find myself down there during that time, but during the day it's a delight to go check out.
We walked several blocks around Chinatown and then decided it was time to eat so instead of heading to our usual go-to Taco Bell, we went to Liliha bakery for lunch. After that it was a smooth drive home just in time for a nap…. cause that’s what we do sometimes…. we nap!
Well, I am glad to say that this week’s adventure kicked off the restart of life, after a 2-month hiatus from weekly journeys. I am looking forward to seeing what next week’s Oahu jar pull will take us! Stay tuned……