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 stores.

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.