China # 13 Hutong Area Old City Bejing
Hope you are not fed up with my memories of China I have so many lovely places still to show you. Today it's the old area of Bejing.
In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan (courtyards surrounded by buildings), traditional courtyard residences. Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another.
Since the mid-20th century, the number of Beijing hutongs has dropped dramatically as they were demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. More recently, some hutongs have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history.
I think these are used as a tourist attraction and as a way for some of the residents to earn some money by showing their homes and providing tea.
This is a typical market area........this lady was behind glass and there was an amazing array of meat for sale-I'll say no more!
Below see the different colours of the eggs.
All the vegetables did look very fresh..not sure if they sold the ones on the floor!Not many of these left so this must be a popular fungi.Plenty of fish for sale The guy below had shut up shop and was taking a nap- yes, you are seeing it right, he is on top of the freezer!!We didn't really have sufficient time to explore the market which I found fascinating. It was a quick walk through taking a few shots on the way.
In many places it was not really wide enough to pass anything coming in the opposite direction. We travelled around the narrow alleys in cycle rickshaws. I felt quite sorry for the drivers, some of whom were quite elderly, as each rickshaw took two adults. From our vantage point we could see that quite a lot of development was in progress.
You can see just how narrow some of the alleys are and in places it was quite dim.Every so often you would see a bathroom block, each serving quite a lot of families. It really made me appreciate my home comforts. Below you can see one of our party (Brian) taking pictures.The door below is the entrance to a siheyuan. The type of entrance denotes the wealth of the family.Once inside you find a delightful little courtyard, surrounded by living and storage accommodation, which the family show you with much pride.
Compare the photo below which I took from Wikipedia with the ones above.......it might not be obvious but it's the same courtyard and the gentleman in the picture is the one who told us his family history and this is his sister.. The family lived here for several generations and were lucky enough to own it, but they had the house taken from them during the cultural revolution. Later they were able to buy it back. The living room that we sat in for tea was very sparsely furnished and you would not call it comfortable.
As we left we noticed someone else having a siesta in one of the store rooms.