You know how you can live in an area for a long time and never get out do your own town? I actually have done a lot of northwest Oregon, but there are some things still on the “to-see” list. This summer I finally got out to check off two more of Portland’s landmarks. Just four blocks away from each other, they are from different worlds… or at least different parts of our world.
The first stop was the Lan Su Chinese Garden, a masterpiece of Chinese Gardens all in one city block of Portland’s very small Chinatown. The garden was designed and built over a 10 month period in 1999 to resemble a scholar’s garden from Portland’s sister city, Suzhou. In true Portland fashion, the home of this relaxing and beautiful area was once a parking lot. Enclosed by walls, it’s impossible to imagine the intricate design and beauty you find once you step into the garden. Paths wind around the garden, giving the visitor views of small, intimate garden settings. 51 “leak” windows are carefully set to allow a unique scene of landscape rocks, plants, intricate rock paths and buildings to “leak” into your view. There is a tea room and numerous pavilions and halls in which to sit down and soak in the garden.
From most parts of the garden, you have a view of 8,000 square-foot Lake Zither, but every time I looked at it, a new vignette captured my imagination. I was thoroughly enchanted by each piece of this exquisite garden which seems so small from the outside, yet so large inside.
For all the peacefulness of the Chinese Gardens, my next stop was like a scary, sugar-induced alarm clock. Walking south along 3rd street, I found Voodoo Doughnut (Where the Magic is in the Hole), with a small crowd gathered outside the tiny ordering counter. This beacon of gluten and sugar has garnered lots of the national attention of late. I like a good doughnut, and I was willing to sacrifice a little gluten intolerance for the sake of curiosity. Scribbled on the chalkboard is a list of local-inspired doughnut flavors. I was a little overwhelmed and so walked over to the spinning display case and pointed twice.
I got the Bacon Maple Bar and the Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Fritter (also known as the Memphis Mafia). Curt ordered the Captain my Captain and the Loop (references to the cereals topping them). And the verdict: nice doughnuts. Lots of sugar. Lots and lots of sugar.
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is located at 239 Northwest Everett Street in Portland and is open daily from 10 to 5. Voodoo Doughnut is at 22 Southwest 3rd Avenue and is open all day except from 3-6am.