Monday, June 13, 2011

Nanluoguxiang hutong

Last Friday, a friend (hi D.!) and I strolled through a lovely hutong. As you may know, hutongs are these narrow (mostly gray) streets with lots of courtyard homes. Until the arrival of high-rise apartment buildings, it was where pretty much everyone but the emperor lived.

Apparently, "[w]ith a history of more than 700 years, Nanluoguxiang is one of the capital’s oldest hutong areas and has been one of Beijing’s 25 cultural and historical protection areas since 1990." (Beijing this Month.) With Nanluoguxiang hutong in the middle, this hutong area has sixteen (eight on each side) more hutongs east and west of the main corridor.

While some of these hutongs in Beijing are still used as they have been for hundreds of years, others are demolished for new construction. Yet others--like the Nanluoguxiang hutong I visited--are renovated to become an entertainment and shopping destination.

Actually, the Black Sesame Kitchen I wrote about earlier is in this same hutong area.

The Nanluoguxiang hutong. This main street has lots of side-streets with shops, bars, and restaurants.

More of Nanluoguxiang hutong.

The accidental tourist.

Hotpot in a Japanese restaurant for lunch. I love hotpot, but I love it best when you can cook your own veggies in the broth. This one came already done, with tofu, meat, and veggies already stewing in the soup.

Hotpot and friend.

No matter where you go in Beijing, there is always a guy biking around with a truckload of stuff.

You never know what is behind the doors in a hutong. Could be a stack of paper and cardboard, kids playing, a cabbage collection, old bikes and laundry, or a fancy restaurant.

In addition to a guy on a bike, there also always are lots of people sweeping the streets. Even outside big modern office buildings, you inevitably will encounter a guy (or gal) with his or her hand-made broom.

In het nederlands: De fotos vandaag zijn van een min of meer typische hutong woonwijk in Beijing. Deze hutong, Nanluoguxiang, is opgeknapt en heeft veel leuke winkeltjes en cafeetjes. Andere hutongs zijn nog gewoon woongebied (en zien er niet altijd even schoon of idyllisch uit.) En weer andere hutongs zijn allang verdwenen en vervangen door nieuwe kantoor- en flatgebouwen. Je kan meer over hutongs lezen in dit Volkskrant artikeltje, "De Sloopwoede voorbij".

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