Hutongs

If you want a taste of life in the old days of Beijing, visit one of the hutongs. They are small streets, what we would call alleys. They originated during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368). In Beijing, hundreds of courtyards were all connected by these lanes. These form neighborhoods called hutongs.  On a big street you may see stores or little restaurants and businesses. On the opposite alley side are homes. Very small homes!

In Beijing there used to be over 3000 hutongs. There are less than one thousand now. It is like stepping back in time. When you walk down the lanes there are people everywhere talking with each other.

Residents use public toilets. Not our favorites. Like most toilets, they are not western style, but squat style.

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We went to one of the hutongs residences for lunch. All 15 of us crowded in this tiny place where the host cooked us a delicious lunch consisting of many dishes. I think it had a main floor of about 150 square feet. It did have an upstairs, which all do not.

We went to one of the hutongs residences for lunch. All 15 of us crowded in this tiny place where the host cooked us a delicious lunch consisting of many dishes.  I think it had a main floor of about 150 square feet. It did have an upstairs, which all do not.

Housing is very expensive in Beijing. According to our guide, a condo could easily be 1.5 million dollars. I think this is one reason people stay in hutongs. Also, families have lived in the same neighborhoods for generations. The couple that were our hosts had good jobs. She was a chef and he was an architect.

A very interesting experience.

 

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