11/21 Chinatown, Los Angeles
If you live in the Los Angeles area and are still on the hunt for gifts, don't forget about Chinatown. During a short visit to LA just before Thanksgiving and in need of a few more little-somethings we took a turn under the red lanterns.The range of possible gifts in the tightly packed shops include the cheesy/fun and the special/expensive. Take the time to visit the markets that at first glance appears to offer only food items. Often these markets have the best unusual gifts hiding in the back.If you see this Lady Fish Paste sign turn around and go up the escalator past the mirrored wall. This will take you to a swell market filled with some marvelous ceramics and a wall of glass apothecary jars full of the most pricey loose teas I have ever witnessed.It was a bright cold morning but the clouds put up a good backdrop for the lanterns and the wild ornate buildings.
If you are unfamiliar with Chinatown in Los Angeles the main drag is along N. Broadway and N. Hill Street just a bit Northeast of downtown. If you are driving South on the 110 freeway take the Hill Street exit. It will drop you right into the thick of it. Finding free parking can be a bear on any day of the week but there are many lots that typically charge $5 or less for the day. Even better, skip the parking and take the Gold Line train to the Chinatown stop. It's a short walk to the shops. And by the way, Phillipe's is in the same neighborhood in case you haven't tried their horseradish mustard.If you don't make it for holiday shopping, don't fret, you can still make the 112th Annual Golden Dragon Parade for Chinese New Year on February 5th, 2011.
**If you are up for some bipedal adventuring, historic Olvera Street can be traveled to on foot in a little less than ten minutes. Stay tuned for an a-go-go take on the pueblo. If you can, make plans to visit next week in time for Las Posadas