The hutongs are small alleyways crisscrossing east west acoss the city of Beijing. They are small narrow streets which one car could fit down, in some places only a bike could fit down them.It is a great opportunity to see some culture of Beijing and how people lived in the past.
People still live here but not as many as there used to be as younger generations prefer to live in modern homes. Some of the hutong and courtyard homes are protected by Beijings Cultural Relic’s Protection Association however many others are being bulldozed so there are getting less and less available.
We got a rickshaw ride around the hutongs which had been arranged by a tour operator. Beware it is abit rough around the edges and quite dirty in places however it was worthwhile to see how people of beijing live. At times I felt very enclosed in.
Once on the rickshaw ride another women cycled beside us to tell us about the place. She explained the different house types and how different doors represented different people living there, which was very interesting. I felt sorry for the man pulling us along on the rickshaw as he was small the there was a long distance for him to pull us around.
We then were taken to one of the local residents house. This was a brilliant experience. His house was lovely decorated with chinese art and decorations. I loved his wee house it was so bright and colourful.
The man who owned the house did not speak english however the girl who had rode on a bicycle beside us translated for us. He showed us around his home and gave us a cup of jasmine tea which I thought was really nice. We were able to ask him any questions we wished about the hutongs or his home I thought this was great as it was only us there and was very personal. He also was interested in our culture and asked us some questions about where we came from. He then took us out to see his many animals he had crickets, cats, dogs and birds.
We then got back onto the rickshaw and seen more of the streets and alleyways. Along the way we seen groups of older men playing card games and board games. The whole tour took about an hour and half and didnt cost very much.
Further reading on Asia