Sunday, February 7, 2016
Yum cha sessions in Sydney’s Chinatown were childhood-defining experiences for me. The rowdy wait staff, the pushy trolley ladies trying to convince us to eat lord-knows-what, people yelling over each other in Cantonese… I’m glad my children can have these experiences too.
It’s such a shame there’s next to nothing else to do outside*. I took the below photo of Chinatown’s back streets to capture… I’m not sure what… the emptiness, perhaps? The futility of the street art? I was partly inspired by some incredible photos that I came across of 1950s Hong Kong. I had the overwhelming sense that much that once was is lost, and I wondered what more we would lose.
Once upon a time, Sydney’s Chinatown was the place to go to stay in touch with the motherland. You could pick up the latest newspapers, entertainment magazines and comic books from several different shops, from Po Hong and Windfair to Chi Man Co. You could go to all those places and more, such as Laser City, for new music, movies and TV shows from Hong Kong and Taiwan, or to A-Zone for the latest anime paraphernalia from Japan.
It’s where Chris and Jeff used to run Game Infinity, and they’d spend more time taking on challengers at King of Fighters than actually running their shop. There was even a cinema where you could watch every new and obscure Hong Kong movie – the experience was so authentic that assholes would talk through the entire session on their phones.
They’re all gone now, scattered between smaller community hubs like Cabramatta, Hurstville, Chatswood and Eastwood. Even BBQ King is gone. There are a handful of hangouts remaining that can’t be matched anywhere else in the Sydney area, but Chinatown is more or less a mere a shadow of its former self.
*Truth be told, 99 per cent of my time in Chinatown is spent at Wing Chun, which is plenty good enough for me.