Being in the Financial District of San Francisco, my hotel is actually less than a mile from the famous San Francisco Chinatown. I decided to take a walk over there this evening to see what I could see. First things first: I did not buy food there. Deal with it.
On the way there, I walked by what seemed to be an adult video store, which had a neon sign in the window advertising watch repair. I decided against going in to ask about it. I had more important things to deal with. I don't think I was in Chinatown just yet, but about half of the businesses that I walked by had Chinese signs on them. As I looked down the sidestreets to my left, I could see a plethora of Chinese shops. I knew I was close. What I didn't know was how close. Had I walked down any of those streets, I apparently would have been in Chinatown a block later.
I did eventually find my way first to Stockton Street, and then to Grant Street. According to Wikipedia, Stockton is supposed to be more authentic, but the parts that I saw seemed pretty touristy to me. Grant seemed pretty dead. Maybe I was on the wrong part.
TuxGirl told me that I needed to find jade chopsticks. Apparently one of her teachers in elementary school had a pair and she's been coveting them ever since. Of course, she didn't actually tell me to pick her up a set, so I thought I'd grab a set of my own and just taunt her with them.
I decided that it would be best to find a gift shop. The first one I saw looked colorful, and had little toys displayed out front, next to a large sign that proclaimed, "Gift Shop". As I walked in, I immediately realized that the majority of what they considered to be gifts were actually extremely expensive-looking blown glass. As I walked in, a somewhat thuggish-looking man (who was very American-looking and sounding) asked me if he could help me find anything. I politely declined and informed him that I was just looking. As I walked through the store and looked at all of the things that I could never afford, he followed silently behind. Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to be wearing my biker jacket in there.
At one point, he informed me that everything was 50-75% off, and then fell back again, to follow me from a comfortable distance. I decided I'd had enough and I left. As I walked out, I saw a very thuggish-looking Chinese man watching the door. I'd never seen a gift shop, or a blown glass shop before that came complete with its own bouncers.
I found another gift shop that looked like it specialized in cheap t-shirts. They had chopsticks, but nothing in jade. But they did have children-sized Cheongsam dresses and jumpsuits. You have no idea how long I've been trying to find Cheongsam jumpsuits. I bought a red dress and pink jump suit for my daughter, and let the shop owner talk me into buying the accompanying shoes and hand bags. He assured me that he wanted my daughter to look good. I didn't mind so much, considering that I only spent $35 on everything, and he tossed in a free pink coin purse for her.
I asked him if he knew where I could find jade chopsticks, and I told me to walk a block one way and go across the street. I did so and found the shop that he was likely talking about, with boards in its windows. They were apparently closed. I kept walking and found a couple more likely gift shops. The first one was so packed full of trinkets that I couldn't move through it without making something or other jangle around me. I couldn't even see the face that belonged to the voice telling me that no, he had no jade chopsticks. The next shop wasn't as full of junk, but the woman told me that she didn't have any either, and such a thing would be difficult to find.
Two doors down, I located a market that seemed either to have several stores inside, or have one store with several registers only serving that department. I saw a sign on the second floor advertising jade, and made my way up. I asked the man if they had any jade chopsticks, and he directed me to the gift shop downstairs. I got there and found several very nice-looking jade chopsticks, at only $15.99 for two pairs. I don't know that it's actually real jade, but I grabbed some anyway. I plan to email a photo to TuxGirl later to taunt her.
I decided to be finished for the evening and head back to my hotel. Naturally, I got lost almost immediately. Fortunately, I only went two blocks before realizing that I was going in the wrong direction, and four blocks later I was back to a location that I recognized on Kearny Street, headed back to my hotel. I stopped by a place called Kearny Street Pies on the way, which was owned by a Brit. Disappointingly (or perhaps reassuringly?) there was no barber shop upstairs. The chicken pie wasn't very good, but I liked the beef pie. The mini raspberry tart was a little too sweet, but it all went very well with a can of Orangina.
By the time I got back to my hotel, I was sweating. It was cold enough to require a jacket, and mine was just light/heavy enough to be perfect outside and way too hot inside, even in the stores that didn't seem to have front doors. I brought a lighter jacket with me, so maybe I'll go back tomorrow wearing it instead.