(PHOTOS) A Walk Through A Hutong

Nicole and I took a stroll through an old hutong the other day. A hutong is basically what most people think of when they think of China… narrow alleyways, single storey brick buildings, with red doors and courtyards inside. The reality of China isn’t so romantic, this is more of what Beijing is like:

The view from my apartment. This time the sky is grey because of rainclouds, not because of pollution.

Hutong life seems much more peaceful. Strangely, hutongs are typically home to poorer people, except for a few of them which have been gentrified by expats and are now home to renovated houses and boutique stores.

Sadly, the hutongs are in danger. In the not too distant past, most of Beijing was comprised of sprawling hutongs. In the last 30 to 40 years though, the large majority of them have been demolished to make way for high rises and highways. Even the ones that remain seem to be in disrepair and may not be around much longer. This hutong we were walking in had a lot of shuttered businesses.

The road in this hutong looks especially black because it had just been repaved. The paving machine was still sitting there and there were some little kids just playing on it. They said “Hallo!” and “goody-bye!” to me as I walked past.

Some more various pictures:

We also saw this guy, who invited us into his home to show off his collection of traditional instruments, and he gave us a small performance.

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