Andrew and I had a very “Chinese-American” day during our last trip to New York.
One of the things I learned about myself during my time in Scotland is that I’m very Chinese-American. As much as I was “The American” at work, getting along with the loud and obnoxious American tourists, I was also the Chinese girl who all the Chinese tourists waited in line for just to ask me where the closest Chinese restaurant was. I realized just how Chinese-American I was when Andrew and I would spend our evenings watching Wongfu and Fung Bros videos on Youtube when we felt homesick. So after spending almost two years abroad, we enjoyed a very Chinese-American day in New York.
As part of of our Chinese-American day in New York, we had to be in Flushing Chinatown in Queens. I love Flushing. I think it’s my favorite place in New York. Before I go on and on about how much I love Flushing, I should probably give you a little historical background. Chinese people started moving into Flushing during the 1970s. Even though there was already a Chinatown in Manhattan, Chinatown was dominated by Cantonese-speaking working-class immigrants. This new wave of Chinese immigrants were from Taiwan, spoke Mandarin, and had higher educational and socioeconomic backgrounds so they chose to settle in Flushing instead. Flushing Chinatown actually used to be called Little Taipei or Little Taiwan and was considered a “middle class” Chinatown. I love Flushing because it reminds me of my college days in the 626 (San Gabriel Valley) all within a 6-block radius. There are so many yummy things to eat (like duck buns and xiaolongboas) and I especially love the underground food stalls. On this particular visit, we had dim sum with our friends.
The second part of our Chinese-American day in New York, we went to Manhattan Chinatown. This is the original Chinatown in New York and a big tourist destination. It is claimed that Chinatown grew in this area because a Chinese man named Ah Ken who owned a cigar store rented out bunks to the first Chinese immigrants to the area. Just like in San Francisco, Chinese immigrants faced discrimination and antagonism from the white communities so they created their own neighborhood.
To finish our Chinese-American day in New York, we visited the Museum of Chinese in America. I felt that the museum was small, but it fit a good amount of information and artifacts in a small space. When we were there, they had an exhibit on Chinese Food and Identity in America. I thought that was really interesting and they had video interviews of Chinese American chefs telling their stories.
Bonus! Asian squats in America have been documented since the late 1800s. 😂😂😂
Even though it was hot, humid, and a bit smelly, our Chinese-American day in New York was refreshing for me after spending almost two years abroad. I may not have been home in California yet, but I definitely felt that I was.