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Calle Capón "China Town"


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China Town in Lima

Translated by Evie Quinlan — 2 years ago

Original text by Jesus en su tinta

China Town is on one of the most lively places in the centre of Lima and it is also known as the 'Calle Capón'. During summertime you can enjoy buying a passion fruit raspadilla (a shaved ice drink made from glacier ice in Peru and Bolivia) with strawberries or tamarind.

So that you have more of a reference, take a look at the following photo, just to the left hand side in one of the first shops you will find a raspadilla in the door of the business for 2 soles. I always try to buy myself one during the summer time and I sit down for a bit in this tiny China in the centre of Lima.

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A little history

Peru has a strong influence from different cultures that throughout its history have been mixed in with the Peruvian and Chinese culture, which is present today in the centre of Lima and in its inhabitants. Many Chinese people arrived in search of better opportunities and they were working in the Sugar farms on the Peruvian coast and some of its inhabitants also settled in the centre of Lima, surrounding this street made up of just one block with a red floor. If you look carefully, you can see that every little square has a different persons name on it.

With the date in which they were engraved. Also, you can find images of Chinese animals during your travels. Travel agencies don't take tourists to this area as they consider it very lively and a little dangerous in the evenings, but the truth is that if you are careful and you go with a friend, I am sure that you are you going to have a great experience.

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The Famous Chinese restaurants

On the same street, Calle Capón, there are different Chinese Peruvian restaurants that are usually known as Chifas. There is one that is on the second floor which is accessible by an escalator and there is a good option to eat delicious fried rice that is a Peruvian dish based on rice, soy sauce, chicken pieces, Chinese onion and ginger with egg in a tortilla (there is no Peruvian who has not tried some type of fried rice in their lifetime). Also, if for some reason you don't have the chance to get to know this place, you should ask a local from the area in which you are staying where you can find your nearest Chifa, as it is very common to find a Chifa every few blocks throughout the neighbourhoods of Lima and they are very reasonably priced. As you can see it is a good gastronomic experience to come to Lima, since you can eat lots of soups influenced by many different parts of the world here. For example, in the tasty restaurants that serve fried rice, and if you want to eat more you can enjoy ordering salted noodles with your Wonton Soup. There is no Chifa that does not offer some of these soups on its menu.

The significance of the portal

The thing that I like the most on Calle Capón is the portal that you will find at the entrance. It is a portal with a red frame and a green roof with some inscriptions in Chinese. Gifted by the colony on their arrival there, there is a phrase that says "under the blue sky, we are all equal". It is a beautiful phrase and it is something that has stuck with me when I learned its meaning.

Nowadays, you will not only find Chinese things on Calle Capón, but you will also find different Hindu ornaments within its galleries and lots of things for your home, since it is located in the heart of the central market of Lima.

Other things you can find

Calle Capón also has a Chinese temple and an alley with various products that come from China. Also, on the same street, you will see stalls where they offer to read your cards for those who wish to know their future, which costs approximately 10 soles.

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If you reach the end of Calle Capón, to the right hand side you will see a huge gallery that I have been to a few times out of curiosity since it is a type of store that has antiques. However, in truth, all of the things that they sell there seem very expensive to me but I have never been able to see the art that you will find there in any other part of the capital. You will find big and small ornaments brought from China.

Some times there are some vendors there selling little bonsai trees for 7 soles and if you buy more than one you can receive a discount off the next one. I have done this a few times since I love these plants.

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If you go during the time of year of the Chinese celebration you can enjoy walking down Calle Capón since they also celebrate the start of the Chinese new year there with dragons and it is a spectacle that is worth it. Also, you can buy ornaments of the animals according to the Chinese calender there like the rat, the horse, etc.

There are also benches there in the middle of that street where you can take a seat and sit for a moment in a small China, since all of the businesses light up their facades with oriental letters. I don't know Chinese but I recognise it from the logos like the BCP bank for example, among others.

To arrive to this area all you have do is guide yourself through the bustling Avenida Abancay in the centre of Lima at the height of the old library. From there, simply cross the road and go in a straight line and from there you are going to find the portals which welcome you to Calle Capón.

Bonustrack: if you want to learn Chinese Mandarin then they also give Chinese classes there.

I hope that you enjoyed reading this experience. Visit Lima!

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