Beijing was once
surrounded by a wall. In those days, no workmen, artisans, or shops
were permitted within the walls. Consequently, shops and alleyways were
built outside. These were known as "hutong." Some of them were named
after the craftspeople who lived in a certain block, such as "Cloth
Lane," or "Hat Lane."
These hutong are fast disappearing. In fact, many of them are slated
for destruction in preparation for the 2004 Olympics. What will replace
these buildings for around 8 blocks on either side of the "main drag"
in Beijing is high-rise apartment buildings.
In the hutongs, houses and courtyards are closed off by wooden gates,
but people often congregate in from of these houses to play cards, to
sew, or just to talk.
The heat in July was oppressive, so many people were congregating
outside their houses and shops.
The men are playing cards while the woman sews.
The Liulichand street was restored to its original style for tourists.
It is studded with art and antique shops (very costly), small "in front
of regular store" stands with kitsch (and lots of fakes), and book
The way we walked to get to Liulichang Street was through Dazhalan.
Again, this street is an antiquer's heaven. The shops stock wonderful
antiques at wonder-ful prices.
We walked, using a map, from our hotel (the Grandview Garden waaaaaay
off to the southwest) to this area. The walk took us 2.5 hours,
primarily because I stroll. One could easily rent a pedicab for ca. 80
yuan, or take a taxi (which we did on the way back) for 15 yuan.