I have just returned from San Francisco, which boasts the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, and that got me thinking (cue dramatic music). A lot of cities have pockets of ethnic diversity where the people of a certain country have congregated and turned the area into a mini version of their country of origin. Having visited Hong Kong less than two years ago, I can attest to the authenticity of San Francisco’s Chinatown.
So, if you don’t have the money, health or time to travel to distant countries, why not find that area in your locale where immigrants have collected and visit them there? In my own area, the City of Surrey has a large Punjabi population which I’m told is more Punjab than the area in India. The City of Richmond has areas where most of the shop signs are in Chinese, in addition to Vancouver’s own Chinatown area.
If your city or town doesn’t have a specific area where immigrants congregate, there are always restaurants or shops where you can sample foods from their home countries. And many will be happy to talk about their place of birth and what life is like in their native land. You can enjoy a cultural experience and still go home and sleep in your own comfy bed.
I am not going to comment on the political discussion about immigrants adapting to the culture and environment of their adoptive country. This post is about enjoying cultural diversity within your own country.
So, whether you’re a writer wanting to add some ethnic diversity to your stories or a frustrated wannabe traveller looking for a cultural fix before you can jet off to your next exotic destination, why not sample what’s on your doorstep? And if you find a new favourite food or gain a deeper appreciation for another culture, let me know so I can add it to my travel itinerary.