Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…

Down to Chinatown

Incheon Station - the end of the line

It was hot, humid, and probably the smoggiest day I’ve encountered since my early childhood days in Los Angeles in the 1980’s, making it as they say in photography terms – a white-balance nightmare; not to mention enduring and experiencing the feeling of sitting in a stuffy, smoky room and not being able to leave. However, all this didn’t stop my friend Cassandra and I from traversing the almost interminable distance across Seoul, from Gangnam all the way to Incheon, in order to take a stroll through the largest Chinatown outside China itself and relax while indulging some authentic Chinese cuisine. The thought of scrumptious, fried rice was on the tips of our tongues the entire odyssey to Incheon, and as soon as we stepped off the bus, we immediately set off to find a nice Chinese restaurant that would render satisfaction upon our unyielding longing for great-tasting Chinese food.

Incheon's Chinatown's Entrance right off the metro

As soon as we exited the metro station, we set eyes on what we knew was the Chinatown entrance and then began the trek uphill towards what we could see as the principal area. We passed by several Chinese restaurants and many outlets selling tawdry merchandise, or as I emphatically mentioned to Cassandra as “nick-nack BS.” This prompted a brief chuckle, but we continued on uphill until it plateaued.

One of the many streets in Incheon's Chinatown

After taking a right, we then cruised down a street full of Chinese restaurants, nick-nack stores, and tourists that we were successfully able to dodge in order to find at random a super cool Chinese restaurant at the end of the street that pulled us in like gravity.

Cassandra posing in front of the restaurant that we chose with the ornate entrance

Huge ornate porcelain

Immediately upon entering, Cassandra and I knew that we had chosen a perfect restaurant to obtain our fill. The restaurant had a great feel about it, and after examining the menu, we eventually chose a garlic-chicken dish accompanied with some “special” fried rice and “special” fried noodles. We didn’t necessarily know what we were exactly ordering in terms of the “special” dishes, but we concluded that it would be kind fun to just take a chance and try them. However, before the dishes arrived, I wished to satisfy another small craving: a zesty Tsingtao that would aptly pair with our food.

Tsingtao hit the spot

What I didn’t know was that the Tsingtao came in a monster-sized bottle, which utterly surprised me at the sight of it being placed in front of me. No matter, I thought. The size of the bottle was soon forgotten when our food arrived as I continuously needed suds to counter the spicy Chinese garlic chicken. The fried rice, noodles, and chicken were quite delectable, especially the fried rice and garlic chicken, as they were essentially cleaned off the plates by our ambitious appetites in a matter of minutes.

Upon exiting the restaurant we were hit with a blast wave of sweltering heat and humidity, and it was almost regrettable that we were leaving the confines of an air-conditioned room. However, we traveled quite a distance, and it would have been wrong of us to just head back after getting our fill without checking out Chinatown a bit more, in addition to the large park nearby.

It wasn’t long before we stumbled upon this cool Chinatown public area where many people attempted to stay cool in the shade.

Incheon Chinatown public area

Induging the confines of shade in Incheon's Chinatown

I even attempted to take a break in the shade for a moment…

Time for me to take a quick break

…and I probably could have slept here for hours, but time was of the essence.

After taking a stroll up the road, we reached a large park where I knew stood a monument dedicated to General Douglas MacArthur, and I was supremely eager to locate it. Before reaching it, I snapped several photos of interesting things along the way.

Random Korean-Buddhist art

"Seat's taken"

Enjoying the Sunday afternoon

Random Chinatown park art

Upon arriving the Douglas MacArthur Plaza, I was surprised to find that his statue-monument was surrounded by large flower gardens.

Douglas MacArthur Plaza, Incheon-South Korea

Beautiful Rose in Douglas MacArthur Plaza

General Douglas MacArthur Statue

For those not well versed on South Korean history, General Douglas MacArthur is seen as a hero by the Korean people as he devised, launched, and coordinated the Incheon Landing (Codename: Operation Chromite), despite strong objections by other cautious generals, on September 15, 1950, which was a surprised amphibious assault that ended a string of victories by the invading North Korean Army. The Battle of Incheon subsequently ensued for two grueling days that resulted in an overwhelmingly decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of the United Nations. The UN recapture of Seoul quickly followed partially severing North Korea’s supply lines and the tides of war in Korea were quickly and forever changed from this moment on.

At this point we were both drenched in sweat, but were still all smiles.

Cassandra and I

After leaving the park on our way back to Chinatown, we passed through the North Entrance/Exit and then heard music down the hill.

Incheon Chinatown North Entrance & Exit

After hastily venturing down several flights of stairs, we reached the street where we then saw a Chinese parade and “dragon dancers.” We both rushed in to get a close view and to quickly snap a few photos.

Chinatown Parade

Incheon Chinatown dragon dance

Incheon Chinatown Dragon Dance

It was a good day in Chinatown and I can see myself returning whenever the super strong urge arises to get some authentic Chinese food; yummy!

5 comments on “Down to Chinatown

  1. Cassandra
    June 22, 2011

    It was a trip to remember, im glad we got to do that, despite the heat and sweats and me complaining i cant walk cos im tired..great day with a great friend!!!

  2. processedfishcake
    June 23, 2011

    Hey Paul! You must have a lucky restaurant sense – we went to Chinatown a few months ago and had pretty disappointing food. Maybe we should give it another shot if the good stuff is in there somewhere.

    Is it really the biggest Chinatown in the world though? To me it seemed quite small compared to the Toronto and Vancouver ones.

  3. Holly Lindsey
    June 23, 2011

    need to visit china town! looks amazing!

  4. Dustin Cole
    July 4, 2011

    I was just there a couple weeks ago. Cool stuff.

  5. Dustin Cole
    July 4, 2011

    Btw, did you read the sign under MacArthur? It felt like it was written by North Koreans for Kim Il Sung. like Jesus couldn’t hold a candle to MacAurthur’s bonfire.

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“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”

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