Honeycombing the heart of
Beijing are the historic hutong: alleyways containing old,
walled courtyards, often fronted by thick red doors, with the more
prestigious guarded by a pair of lions on either side. Their existence
dates originally fron the Yan dynasty in the 14th century. The
number of hutongs in the city numbered 6000 in the 1950's. Howevery,
today there are considerably less and more are rapidly disappearing
each day because of the high premium on land and the modernization of
the city as it prepares for the 2008 Olympics.
chose a nice spring day this March to go the tour.
There are a number of them in Beijing, we went to the hutongs near
BeiHai Park. That's
me and Mr.Wong, our driver, and yes, I had to force him to pose with
us before he left us with the tour guides. Samantha and Kevin get
to share a pedi-cab, doesn't Kevin look thrilled?
you believe cars actually drive down these alleys? We met up with one,
and it was a close call. Thank goodness cars are rare around
here. These alleys are so intertwined, it is easy to lose your
Each door to the courtyards can be plain and brown or highly ornate. The more
decorative the door, the more important the family is, possibly someone rich or
famous, someone in
government or someone who has friends in the government.
The residence surrounding each courtyard is divided up into N-S-E-W quadrants. Boys stay in
the east side, because it is warmer in the winter and cooler in the
summer. The girls stay in the west side, parents in the north and the
kitchen, bath area are located in the south buildings. Guests also stay
in the south side. Each courtyard has an entrance way.....
is standing by an inscription that displays the family name.
Samantha is in the courtyard doorway just beyond the "red door". As a
young unmarried chinese girl, this is as far as she can go from her
home without a female chaperon.
Commercial streets in the Hutong. The neatest little shops that sell absolutely everything
They boil sugar and
water until it thickens, take a dollop and knead it into a hollow egg shape.
One end has a long tail with a pinhole into which they blow, turning it
around until it reaches ithe desired shape. Within one minute
the raw candy is transformed into an animal.
This is the craft
of candy-blowing; its masters are called candy men.
Kevin, Samantha, Donna with HoiHai Lake in the background.