Skip to main content

Road Trip, Day 5: My Birthday in Chinatown



March 13, 2015 


I was born in San Francisco and it was the only place I wanted to be on this ending-in-zero birthday.  More specifically, in Chinatown, like China, but better in some ways.  I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember.  Chinatown and the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, my favorite childhood destinations.  Clearly, premonitions of times to come.


On Day 3, as I wound down in my room in Sonoma, pal Deb called.  What was I going to be doing on my birthday, she asked.  I’ll be in Chinatown, I answered.  Can I come, too? replied Deb.  I’d like nothing more, and so it was.


I caught the 30 bus in front of my father’s high school, my first planned stop would be Rayko Photo Center, 3rd Street and Perry, to see the Annual Plastic Camera Photo Show they host.  Miraculously, Rayko is about a 30 second walk, just across narrow Perry Street, from where Deb would be, at her new work location, under I-80, which I hadn’t yet seen.  Deb is a bus driver who works commute hours so we had plenty of time to play.  She was waiting in the gallery when I arrived and we enjoyed the exhibition together while I explained what I could about the processes of the pictures we were seeing.  Then a quick pit stop at the new bus yard digs before getting back on the 30 bus that would take us the way I’d come, through Chinatown.







Getting off on Stockton Street, the real Chinatown, as opposed to Grant Avenue downhill, that serves to corral tourists and keep them out of residents’ way, we walked and talked and talked some more (it had been a while).  We eventually drifted into a nondescript restaurant, run by a very amiable fellow,  more intent on visiting than eating anything in particular, and while the food was not exactly world-class, our host made it fun.












Deb seemed not to mind when I abandoned her from time to time for another picture, and when she needed to return to work, another 30 bus came along and off she went.  I continued along, cultivating my relationship with produce, and when Chinatown turned into North Beach, land of coffeehouses and my young adulthood, I stopped for pastry and a latte at La Boulange on Columbus.  A quick pass around the neighborhood, through Washington Square Park, where I’d once spent part of an evening watching Clint Eastwood direct scenes in ‘Dead Pool’, I arrived at another stop for the 30 bus and my ride back to Fort Mason.


General information, my transport costs for the day were a total of $1.50, Two .75 senior fares that included transfers, good for 90 minutes each.  Advice:  Check possible single fares before investing in transit day passes.



Back to work for Deb. 




Food Shopping on Stockton Street










Live fish...



...and not so live.






So ends my public birthday road trip.  Next day I drove south to Half Moon Bay for an overnight on the coast with my 8 year old granddaughters, the only criteria for which was a nicely heated swimming pool for they who are often mistaken for dolphins.  Next day, Sunday, I drove home to Grass Valley, with a stop partway for conversation and a glass of good wine with Deb and Val and a doggy bag containing a bottle to go, wonderfully grilled meat and a box of Trufflemistress Val’s unbelievably fine dark chocolate truffles.  My birthday week was complete.



Visit the Trufflemistress:




Catch up with the 'Road Trip' here, and tune in

Saturday for coffee and dessert in North Beach.






For all of PortMoresby’s contributions, click here.





Images (26)
  • SFCT1
  • SFCT2
  • SFCT3
  • SFCT4
  • SFCT5
  • SFCT6
  • SFCT7
  • SFCT8
  • SFCT9
  • SFCT10
  • SFCT11
  • SFCT12
  • SFCT13
  • SFCT14
  • SFCT15
  • SFCT16
  • SFCT17
  • SFCT18
  • SFCT19
  • SFCT20
  • SFCT21
  • SFCT22
  • SFCT23
  • SFCT24
  • SFCT25
  • SFCT26

Add Comment

Comments (3)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

What a great way to end a roadtrip.  I've visited Chinatown many times in the 20+ years I lived in California, always on the agenda when going to the Bay area.  But you saw things in it that I just didn't appreciate.  I mostly went for a great meal.  You seem to have experienced a genuine slice of China in America. 


A belated Happy Birthday, PM!  Wishing you many more.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

Great post!  I love Chinatown in SF!  I used to walk through every day on my way to work between Pacific Heights where I lived and the Embarcadero where I worked.  It's been five years since we moved to Ireland and I still miss this daily walk.


Here are some posts and photos I have taken over the years in SF Chinatown. 

Link copied to your clipboard.