As with every architecture in the city of Victoria, the stones used to construct the entrance of Chinatown is pristine. It was like, it was designed yesterday. I walked through the entire Chinatown in five minutes. Well, until I figured out the hidden alleyways that are so narrow, it’s easy to miss. It makes the experience more interesting. Since the only chinatown I’m familiar with is the one in Toronto, I really was expecting more shops, more places to eat, street vendors, and the chaos that often comes with the place, which of course makes for great bargaining. This China town could be packaged in a museum, the way it was so perfect. Across the street was a Chinese school that children go to learn about their Chinese culture. I observed two mothers speaking in there own tongue outside the school, as they held their little ones’ hands. I didn’t stop for food, but I bet that’s why later that night, I was craving Chinese food.
I eventually saw the same city tour bus passed by me, but I felt that taking my time to experience more of the city on foot was best. After I left Chinatown, I went to Market Square. None of these places are by any means extravagant in size. I managed to walk through the square in a short time. Maybe, the experience would be lovelier in the summer months as I saw there was a performance stage in the centre. There were cute shops and patios on the second story to have lunch. It makes for a cute hang out spot (if it wasn’t so cold and windy). On my way back, I saw the Eaton Mall. You can bet this mall was not your ordinary modern mall. The designs are Victorian in nature as well. The mall had all the stores you would expect to find in any shopping mall. But, the architecture was stunning, much like the entire city.
READ MORE: I have come home.
What I love about the experience of walking through the downtown is that, every building has kept its original architecture. The following day, while on the City Bus (…I almost missed it again!), I learnt that all the hotels, stores, and any building was preserved as a historical site. So for decades to come, every owner of these buildings will not be able to completely change the look and feel of this beautiful city. The tour guide told us the history of one famous hotel. The hotel has kept its original design, with with many changes of owner, no one has stayed in there for 75 years, and no profit. The recent owner added to it, but is not allowed to change the original bricks. From the Chinatown, to native landmarks, to Victorian built, they have all been preserved as part of the historical look and feel of this charming city.
I felt safe and comfortable to walk around as a single woman of colour. The city had a little bit of diversity creeping in ever so slowly, it’s easy to miss it. I saw a biracial young girl working at the Rexall pharmacy and the following day when I went back to the pharmacy, there was an Asian woman. When I was walking through China town, I saw many Asian people. I didn’t see many other races, outside of Caucasian. Like I said, it was easy to miss the diversity. I chatted up a few strangers, one was an ex-police officer working at the legislative assembly. I shared with him what I do for a living, and he was encouraging me to apply for jobs in British Columbia. I would say that the people are just as charming as the city. Also, the city seems to care a great deal about its retirees. I learnt on the tour bus that special care in height of buildings have been taken into consideration for accessibility reasons. With the fact that the city has a mild winter, it’s surrounded by the pacific ocean, and everyone has a green thumb, all makes for a beautiful place to live or vacation or even retire! I honestly must say that this city is a must see for anyone who loves the sun and sea!