Beijing’s back streets are a maze of alleyways, locally known as Hutongs. Nearly all Hutongs run east to west so that the main gates faces south, satisfying fang shui requirements. They say the spirit and soul of the city lives and breathes among these little lanes, where there is a huge sense of community. Sadly many have been swept aside, victims of bulldozers, in the bid to modernise Beijing.
We were in fact staying in a downtown Hutong, where we witnessed local domestics and the community getting on with daily life. This included old men coughing and spitting and almost been run over by the silent but deadly electric scooters and e bikes.
Nanluogu Xiang Hutong, emerged from a local alleyway like our residence to become one of the most famous in Beijing. The street is lined with yuppie coffee shops, frozen yoghurt stalls, bars with live music and Parisian style cafés and restaurants.
We had to visit one of the numerous coffee shops. Karen, a non coffee drinker opted for a frozen strawberry smoothie. To her delight it came in a bowl like a dessert. The owner seemed happy to have western customers as he was keen to take out photos for his photo gallery. Feeling like celebs again..
We enjoyed spending time wandering and getting lost in the Hutongs. While capturing some good shots which we believe reflect life in the Beijing Hutongs. Including the fashionable teenagers snacking on what can only be described as a hot stack of Pringles on a stick with tomato sauce.
As the rain swept the alleyways we jumped into a local restaurant for some lunch. Surprisingly they had an English menu so we knew what we were eating this time. The food was good but the main entertainment was the local drunk man at the table behind us, the more he drank the better his English got!
In a bid to escape the Chinese ‘Rab C’ we tried to brave the rain but 500 meters later we took cover in a local bar with China’s version of Bruno Mars. It was cheaper to have a beer than a cup of tea…I’ll let you guess what we ordered.
After a chilled afternoon we headed for some culture at the drum and bell tower. The steep climb up provided good views of the rooftops of those famous Hutongs.
Originally the drums were beaten here to mark the hours of the day. We managed to time our visit to capture a drum performance. It was impressive, I might hire these guys as John’s alarm clock when he returns to work!