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I wonder if the whole of China looks like Chinatown? It looks like one of those themed zones you find at amusement parks.
A big stone dragon? check!
You can tell who the real Chinese people are because they're just hanging around the shop fronts smoking little roll-ups of sweet smelling... something (I'm not sure what). The tourists have the cameras, the workers have stained aprons and are carrying boxes of vegetables on their heads. I can hear them speaking Chinese as I'm sitting here, probably wondering who this English dipsh*t is, sitting on their doorstep. The thing that I like most about Chinatown (and this is going to sound daft), is that it always seems to be just on the cusp of opening. No matter what time of day you come, whether it is 8 AM or mid-afternoon, everybody is still rushing around to get ready. Lorries are always reversing down the road with their drivers hanging their elbows out the window, beeping and tooting to the dawdling tourists. The street is always filled with pallets of sacks of rice and big huge drums of cooking oil, and workers are darting around with trolleys to carry them out the back. There are always pyramid piles of bin bags stacked up around the lampposts, and crushed up cardboard boxes and cheap boxes of fruit getting in everybody's way -- it's like a street market without the stalls. One day this place will tidy up and open. I like it!
The greengrocers sell fruits that you've never seen -- huge spiky footballs that look like poisonous puffer fish. Giant dry bananas that come wrapped up in palm leaves. I like looking at all the Chinese medicine shops. Their windows are always full of pictures of blokes with blotches and boils and big bald heads, but don't worry, it says, because if you eat this leaf you will be cured! Crush up this chicken bone and sprinkle it in your dinner and your rash will be gone in a week.
They certainly like a nice massage in Chinatown. Every other shop is offering a five minute lie down to loosen up your back. But I'm guessing that it's the kind of massage that hurts. There are probably lots of karate chops and pummelling of fists involved. You go in with an aching back and come out in floods of tears.
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