Support Chinatown Sydney (ft. Neon Playground)
With the lack of international students, tourists and office workers, Sydney’s Chinatown (悉尼唐人街), located in Haymarket, has struggled immensely since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, the new Darling Quarter precinct, situated next door, has further contributed to the decline of Chinatown (briefly talked about in a prior podcast episode).
With lockdowns over (for now), I checked out the famous Chinatown Markets last Friday. I went just before sundown and was disappointed to see that the number of stores was half (or even less) of what it used to be pre-pandemic.
However, there were some new additions, like a Squid Game inspired stall where you can purchase Dalonga (달고나) – a Korean candy made with melted sugar and baking soda. There was also a “rolled ice cream” stall, similar to the ones you see on holidays in Thailand and SE Asia.
With live music and a small crowd, I hope to see more people come out in force to support this historic area and support CBD retail in general, like they did on Sunday with the news of the imminent closure of the long-standing Marigold restaurant.
Let’s hope no more Chinatown establishments go under.
Also check out the Instagram page, Soul of Chinatown for the latest on-the-ground news and insights in the precinct.
October 2022 Update (Neon Playground Sydney Chinatown)!
Sydney Chinatown is currently undergoing a revival with the help of passionate non-profit organisations & volunteers like the Soul of Chinatown, Haymarket HQ & Basalt Studio. Chinatown is currently hosting Neon Playground, a 5-week festival filled with art, lights, music, food and community supported by the City of Sydney Council.
Led by street art installations featuring works from a lineup of talented Asian Australian artists, it kicked off with a Block Party inspired by sounds and steps from all across Asia (see my YouTube Shorts video at the bottom of this page).
After seeing so many passionate individuals working together to preserve the heritage & culture of Sydney Chinatown, I’m quietly optimistic that Chinatown will survive & thrive. It will take time (maybe years) but for many Asian Australians, Chinatown is worth saving.