Friday, September 05, 2008

The Mysterious Hutongs

One of the types of places I had planned to explore a lot while living in Beijing were the hutongs. I imagined myself walking for hours through these elusive courtyard dwellings. Today, Steve and I began our quest to understand what's behind those fifteen foot walls...the people, the living space, the retail, and of course the food.

After spending some of the morning at Gong Wangfu, we walked around the Houhai area. Turn the corner into an alleyway and you're there. Some of the hutongs we went through were old style. They weren't crumbling, but didn't seem to be renovated either. The living spaces were not really visible because you needed to go through door which were not very welcoming.

My favorite hutong visit today was on Nanlougu Xiang. Definitely renovated, it boasted neat upscale shops, backpacker hangouts, and of course trendy fusion restaurants. A shout out to Bruce for his suggestion of Pass-By Bar. With a courtyard feel and excellent food (today's selections...pumpkin soup and hutong pizza), Steve and I had a great break in a place that exuded atmosphere from every corner.

While our hutong exploration is far from over, this was a nice introduction to some of the old and the new. Rest assured, more will follow as we try to understand this very foreign form of communal living.



At 3:08 PM, Blogger MaMa said...

Okay so the Hutong tours were the best thing I did in China - but I still don't get how it is more expensive and prestigious to live there - where is the water - not to metion the bathrooms - for some reason my husband Brian and I cannot stop thinking about the smell of the Hutong - strange, foreign - unforgettable...


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