SF Chinatown Treasure Hunt: The Ox-ipital Lobes
Chinatown’s New Year Parade is not the only thing going on, it’s also the SF Chinatown Treasure Hunt, organized by Jayson Wechter. 100s, if not 1,000s, show up each year wind and rain, to run around downtown figuring out little clues for the sheer sake of peer approval and our love of taking tests.
I was in the Ox-ipital Lobes (it’s the Year of the Ox) and have put together a little picture story of the 4 1/2 hour long endurance test. First, we stood waiting for one and a half hours for my teammate, who had my ticket, to show up. Then, we were off at 5pm, to… get our scorecard!
We mulled about for a while trying different venues where we could sit, read, and discuss. Our usual haunt for this, One Market, was closed. We tried a few others, but made a difficult decision to go to Wine on Front, and endure kir royales, a cushy circular booth, and a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. I opted out of the cheese plate, since there was a time element to this hunt.
Besides answering the first part of every clue- and we actually got them all, which is a first for us, we built The Route.
This is a brilliant system of 1) avoiding crossing Grant St. and thus the Chinatown Parade 2) numbering the intersections by clue #, and 3) hitting North Beach first. Last two years we left the outlying areas for last, and after 3 hours walking you do not want to climb Telegraph Hill.
Ah, then off to more clues, which were like this: walk down a scary alley, find people with headlamps (other trivia teams) bait them and tease them, meander around confused creating red herrings, then quickly scribble the answer and let out your team call, “Whoop!” Once we yelled that and nearly caused a woman to have a heart attack as she was quietly necking a guy a North Beach alcove. No lie.
Our “whoop” started because of an ultra-cheesy clue at Broadway and Columbus, where you “would let out a ‘Whoop!’. No, it wasn’t City Lights, it was the big pianist mural above New Hong Kong restaurant.
3 hours pass of similar cycles, and for some reason we were running late. We’re not that competitive, though we did take it seriously. Is that possible? Serious enough to sit down to beef chow fun, veggie chow mein and broccoli and chicken, on break #3. Break #4 was the above dim sum shop on Jackson, the cutest and most festive street, and had the chewiest Chinese doughnuts I’ve ever had (not a good thing).
We lost our guy to a crab festival in North Beach (he wasn’t a signed-up real team member either), but we managed to push through the FiDi in record 20 minutes, and 5 clues. 2 of our ladies work there, so it was easy.
As we approached the bandstand at Justin Herman Plaza, there was an expectant air. Could we get any recognition for finishing all of the clues?
Last year we ran into the square at 10PM to absolutely nobody there, and it was a sad, crushing denouement. This year there were some official people hanging out who gave us the necessary approval, and we veered off to soak our feet and I personally headed home- another mile walk- but got sidetracked by a quick beer at Gino Carlo‘s with 2 teammates, then to enjoy carrot cake at Melt.