Monday, November 30, 2015

Time Travel to the Bell and Drum Towers

Thomas recently went on a school field trip to the hutongs near the Bell and Drum Tower. What a magic spot in Beijing, this square between the two towers. The towers were used to keep time and indicate when the gates of old Beijing would close in the evening or for special occasions. Very similar, I imagine, to the gates of old European cities. If you were outside the city wall when the gates closed...well, then you had a whole night to try to keep yourself safe and think about getting back in first thing in the morning. 

Below are some photos, or you could go straight to Thomas' own blog to see more sassy details in how own Hutong Field Trip Reflection.


The tour guide for the walk was someone from Beijing Postcards, a great organization that collects stories (for example through interviews with elderly residents) about China and in particular Beijing. The guide really made the kids think about where the food and water in the old Beijing used to come from (from far away, water from the mountains to the northwest) and how to get rid of human waste (bought up* to be used as fertilizer).

(*An interesting note about this purchasing of human waste was that it was more expensive to buy the waste (people's excrements) in the richer parts of town than in the poorer parts. Why you wonder? Because of the good nutritional value of the pooh in those parts of town. Even the pooh was richer!)

I am positioning myself in old Beijing. The guide used a gigantic map to show the kids the old city.

The guy with the gourd-flute made an extra effort to bellow out a tune in the hope I would buy one of them.

In the hutong streets around the Bell and Drum Towers.

From the number of electricity boxes you can derive the number of families living in a courtyard. A long time ago, one courtyard (with three rooms around an outside square) would be for one family, but these days many families live together in the same space.

Beijing and its rags


Thomas writes about these 'stars' (the blue wooden pegs) on his blogs. This home only has two 'stars'. More successful citizens would have three or even four!

Sweet dreams...

At the end of the field trip we all gathered at this restaurants for a lunch of pretty much only dumplings. Yum! (I think only the parents touched the greens on the table).

In het Nederlands: Excuses voor het gebrek aan blogposts in de afgelopen maanden! Soms neemt het leven het even over van het rapporteren. ;). Laatst was ik dus mee met Thomas op deze excursie. Misschien hebben jullie het al gelezen op z'n eigen blog: Hutong Field Trip Reflection. Het was een prachtige dag. De hutongs van Beijing doen me altijd denken aan kleine dorpjes in het hart van een grote stad.