“You must see Hutong in Beijing, you will love it!”, it was Vi’s last message to me before she boarded the train to Nanjing. I typed in the word “hutom” into iPhone 2do app, under Beijing to do list. That time I didn’t know what’s a
hutom Hutong even though I was going to Beijing the next day. After reading some kick-ass blog posts later; link (and giveaway) below; I was sold before I reached the Beijing train station, I needed to see Hutong!
Hutong is an architectural mark of Beijing. It’s rows and rows of alleys on commoner’s areas formed by the houses in between called Siheyuan. The hotel I was staying in, Hotel 161 Beijing, was located in a Hutong, Lishi Hutong. After checking in, I spent the day walking up and down the alley, but nothing much to see there so I decided to visit the famous ones near the Bell Tower the next day.
Siheyuan is a traditional open courtyard residence and has a history of thousand of years. In the early days, Siheyuans were owned by wealthy families whilst these days it is used as a housing complex of many families. The real, single family owned Siheyuan is a rare sight Beijing these days, but I was lucky enough to get to step inside one.
It all started with a rickshaw ride around the Hutong. Admittedly, it’s a touristy thing to do in Beijing, but I like doing touristy stuff, especially while visiting a new place. Also, because I AM a tourist.
My rickshaw guy was an old grandpa who explained the history of Hutong eagerly to me. He pointed the places on the left and right while explaining the stories behind it. In Chinese. I don’t speak Chinese. But I didn’t seem to bother him. I liked his attitude. I tipped him extra.
This Siheyuan is owned by a friendly aunty who was happy to show me around. She shared what seemed like interesting stories about this house, but then again, it was in Chinese, so I just nod and smile. To think if she had told me “I am going to keep you here and
feed marry you off to my son”, I would have nodded along and never came back to share these pictures with you..
An afternoon well spent. My love for Eastern architecture and the nosy-parker in me both were satisfied.
Next time I visit Beijing (there will be a next time!) I am so going to stay in this area. I saw a few motels and guest houses, coffee shops and a bar. Also, it’s a stone throw away from the shopping alley, which I ended up going to every evening while in Beijing.
Speaking of shopping alley, I have a giveaway from Beijing for you (Yaay!!). It’s a tea and a handcream combo. Think Oriental Downton Abbey, with Lady Mary and no sugar in her tea.
Just drop a comment below, or you can retweet my tweet about this post, whichever one. A winner will be chosen randomly and announced on next Tuesday. I will send the giveaway to your address where ever you are.
Thank you for reading you guys and I hope you are participating in the giveaway. See you next week for another Travel series. Once again, Xie Xie Ni.