A narrow alley in the Victoria, BC, Chinatown.

Victoria, BC, isn’t a large city, but it does have a Chinatown. Unlike some modern day Chinatowns, the one in Victoria has a lot of Chinese shops that strike me as authentic. At least as authentic as anything like that in North America. There are grocery stores. Bakeries. Winding alleys in which you can lose yourself. Old buildings. New buildings.

This alley is the end of a narrow passage between buildings. For some stores, this is the only public access. Even there, the space is narrow. People have to squeeze past each other, so there isn’t a lot of space for making photographs. As a result, most of them have to be “on the go.” Quick shots without the trouble of blocking everyone with a tripod.

The bricks give the space a wonderful texture that is often missing in modern shopping spaces. Even though there are utilitarian aspects, like the electrical line coming in to the building, it’s still a pleasant place. The lights strung along above. The lanterns. This isn’t a forbidden place. It invites you in to explore. There might be hidden treasures around the corner, but they are meant to be found.

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James Smith