Chinatown, Vancouver: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and Sam Kee

For those of you who have kept up with my travelogues in China, you would remember a mention of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen in my Nanjing post. Although I had never heard about this important Chinese figure until my China trip this summer, I was pleased to find out that he had once been to Vancouver – when he was on the run from China. In Vancouver, one of the attractions in Chinatown is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. There is a public park as well which D and I went to but we decided to pay the small student admission price for the garden as well. I thought it was worth it and it brought back memories of the garden in Suzhou.

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Another attraction that I really wanted to find was the Sam Kee building which is recognized by Ripley’s as the narrowest office building in the world at a width of 6 feet. According to Fodor’s Vancouver & Victoria 2010, “[in] 1913, after the city confiscated most of the then-owner’s land to widen Pender Street, he build a store on what was left, in protest” (44). With such a back story, of course I wanted to find this building. I mean, how hard could it be? So, D and I went in search for it. I brought us to the intersection of Pender St. and Carrall St. and started searching. I can’t even explain how long we stood and paced around for. D kept insisting that it was a building a block to the north while I insisted it had to be at the corner we were at. Then, I made a joke and said, “It could just be this building here with all these windows.” And we took a step closer only to finally notice the two plaques that the city of Vancouver put up – Sam Kee Building. It was just so deceiving because another building has been built right behind it, giving it the impression of being bigger. Taking a step back, you can see how they are separate buildings.

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