Saturday, December 23, 2006

Chinatown, baby!


This is what I was REALLY waiting for!

We rode the subway down there, and as we started up the stairs to the street, my sister in law (she used to live in Manhattan, she knows everything) told us to brace ourselves. I'm thinking, for WHAT??? As soon as you come up out of the subway, a whole mob of people begin to accost you with little cards full of pictures of purses. Prada, Coach, Gucci, Vuitton... they're all shouting in your face. You have to plow through them to get out of the subway! It's crazy! And they were on all the corners in that area also. We had more pressing things to attend to first though.

That's right, Breakfast! We started off the day with some dim sum. I've never had it before, but it was so fun! They have these waitresses come around with little carts full of food. They show you what is on there, and if it looks good you take it, and if it doesn't, you say no thanks. There are TONS of choices, and if those aren't enough, there is a steam table with more things to choose from. You can't really ask what anything is, because you can barely understand what they are saying. It's definitely a chance to be adventurous. I don't think I ate anything too scary!

After that, it was off to roam the streets of Chinatown. I seriously had resolved that I wasn't going to go home without a good pair of fake Chanel sunglasses (yes, I am trashy like that!) and some pretty jewelry. First, we went into this candy store Aji Ichiban.

They had all these different preserved fruits that you could sample, and lots of Chinese candies. I bought some dried mangoes and a couple of Chocolate Marshmallows.

Next, we hit Canal Street, because that's where my sister in law said all the knock offs would be found. She was not kidding. It was stall after stall of purses, jewelry, sunglasses, and watches. You want something? You could find it here. People selling dvds of movies that are still playing in the theatre now, like Rocky Balboa and Happy Feet. Everything was negotiable! I was going into these stores, and looking around, but all I saw were bad knockoffs. Then, as we exited one, the woman standing outside asked me if I wanted Prada or Coach. I told her no thanks. My husband told me that he saw some people coming out of a room in the back, and the woman had two Coach bags in her hand. A HA! I had figured it out.

So, at the next stall where someone asked me that, I said SURE. This guy took me into the back of the store (which was tiny, no more than 8-10 feet wide) said something in Chinese into a walkie talkie, then PUSHED THE WALL OPEN!!! There were hidden doors leading into hidden rooms in almost every one of these stalls. Inside, purses and scarves from the floor to the ceiling. It was seriously the craziest thing I'd ever seen. There was always someone inside to conduct the transaction, and to check when the coast was clear for you to leave. Totally wild. I went in about 6 of those, but didn't see anything I liked. I did get a fake Tiffany necklace, a fake Tiffany bracelet, two pairs of fake Chanel sunglasses and a fake Burberry scarf though.

We were heading to the next block (where I scored some really cute I <>This woman asked me if I wanted Prada, Gucci, Coach... etc, and I asked her if she had Vuitton. She says Oh yeah, and tells me to follow her. I was expecting her to go into the stall behind her, but instead she starts back across the street. I asked her where she was going, and she told me that it wasn't far, just two minutes away. I'm thinking, okay, it's on the block we just came from. I told her I went in all those rooms. She laughed and said, no that way. So we followed her, because I am brave/stupid and my husband was with me and we were bigger than her.

Well, she took us on a real New York experience, that's for certain. We went down this really dark quiet street, then down these narrow dark steps, into an abandoned dirty courtyard, into another dark tunnel, into a second underground courtyard, then unlocked this lone door and led us in. There were little rooms back there, much like the ones in the stalls, but with way better stuff. I scored me a fake Louis for $40! It's not perfect, but seeing as how a real one will set me back $920, I think it will do. The logos are right, anyway, so it's not a super obvious fake. I can live with that for now!

After that, we had to hustle our behinds to meet up with my mother in law and sister in law. We did stop to snap a pic of me with all my loot there:

After that, we just walked and went into whatever store looked interesting. I saw this guy and I had to take a picture of him, of just for Amber's sake:

We decided it was time for food at about eight, so we headed toward a Venezuelan restaurant that my sister in law's friend had recommended. We got there and a woman told us to sit at this table in the corner, so we did. Another larger group than us came in a couple of minutes after we did, and we were saying how we got there just in time! Well, maybe not so much. The other guy working told us we had to move, becuase he could seat 6 people where we were sitting, and he had a table for four in the other corner. We said okay, but we couldn't see the table either.

It was AWFUL. It was old, and rickety, and not like the other tables at all. I think it was older than me. It had two little extenders, and one was kinda saggy. The table was butted so far into the corner you couldn't even get to that seat without moving the table, which you couldn't because the other tables were full and very close. It was a disaster. We went to ask the guy how long we would have to wait for a different table (which was totally unfair, since we were there first, but we couldn't exactly ask them to UNSEAT that other group) and the guy got totally beligerant and started to chew out my sister in law for asking, so we just left.

We walked to Chelsea and found this great little Cuban restaurant. Finally, somewhere I could understand what was being said! Oh, and the food was sooooo good! We had these little breads, made with Yucca that were super buttery and warm. The waiter said they were very popular in Colombia. We had a fried shrimp and calamari appetizer that was fantastic, and then there was the food! I had the ropa vieja, which, when translated means old clothes. Weird name, but I hear it's a very popular cuban dish, so I had that with a mojito. When in Rome, you know!

After dinner we weren't going to order dessert, but the coconut flan sounded good, and I had never had flan before, so we figured what the heck. The waiter had already given my sister in law a beer on the house, and then he brought us an extra dessert too! It was this Guava Cheesecake with really yummy mango sorbet on the side. We waddled out of there.

We headed on over toward Rockefeller Center. THAT was our first brush with the New York we expected, since most of the places we had visited were relatively quiet and uncrowded. There were people everywhere! We saw Radio City Music Hall, and the NBC Studios on the way to see the tree. It really is amazing, and HUGE! Everyone is trying to snap a photo, and everyone else is busy getting in the way. We did get a couple of good ones though.

We headed around to the other side to see the ice skaters. There were way too many people there, but by holding my camera way over my head I was able to get a picture of the statue down there. Suzy told me what it was once, but I forgot.

Saks Fifth Avenue was across the street, so we went over there to see the window display. They had giant lit up snowflakes that did a music and light show, and then a story illustrated in the windows with little dolls and kaleidoscopes. Out front were guys selling fake purses on blankets, which amused us very much.

After that, we had armloads of bags, food, and tired feet, so we headed on back to the hotel.

***so Blogger is being really STUPID and not letting me upload any more pictures, so I'll have to come back to this later and plug them in. Until then, you will have to use your imaginations!***


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't NYC the best? I'll never forget my first trip to the "underground stores" I kept looking at my MIL with a look that said we are going to die, but couldn't stop following the woman leading us!!!

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, M and Barb, both of you are wway too risk-taking for moi! LOL But I guess that is how my DD got her Kate Spade knock-off purses when she went to NYC. I suddenly do not want to know any more about it.... rofl!!!!

M, ANOTHER great travelogue. Hope you remember to come back and upload the photos! hint hint

3:51 PM  

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