On my numerous visits to hutongs around Beijing, I came upon these bright yellow outdoor fitness machines.
They are all free of course and I just thought it is a very good idea as I see young and old people doing physical exercise. We can find them in a lot of hutongs, on the streets. I have even tried a few of them and they are like the ones we can find in indoor fitness centres.
When walking around in Beijing, especially in hutongs or by the lakes, we would see a lot of old people getting together to play cards, majiang, chinese chess or dominoes.
If you speak Mandarin, you can talk to them as old people are very friendly and they would even explain the rules of the games for you.
One of the best ways to tour hutongs is by bike. Biking in Beijing is not as dangerous as it may seem, there is no need to be afraid of the huge flow of traffic. Once you get used to it, you would know how to bike.
If there is a problem with your bike, you would find people to repair it almost everywhere...
We felt like we were in the amazing race when we rounded the corner and all these uniformed bike drivers were there waiting to take us through the village. It felt a little silly but it was fun and relaxing being driven around through the narrow streets.
Local people, especially old ones like to fish... Whenever there is a lake, you would undoubtly find a bunch of old men fishing...
This picture has been taking by Xihai, the norht lake, of the three lakes near Beihai Park.
It is very interesting to walk around the old neighbourhoods of Beijing (to the south of Tiananmen) through the narrow alleys (hutongs) and see the people. Chinese people live a lot in the street. They eat there, playthere, chat there. They can even invite you to their home for a tea!
Red as a color of positive affirmation in China is one the ways to articulate otherwise solid, colorless walls of the buildings or as in this case, one of the gates to a residence in a hutong - a traditional living structure of homes and lanes as a homogenous unit of the city. The things as such are like 'village' within megacity, shelter of closed and conservative societies within their own set of rules and traditions.
The hutongs are being rapidly 'replaced' in many areas, but since they are also of great interest for tourists, there are some that might gonna have better future than otherwise, but the question of content will then arise. Will they remain as living units for local population, or will they become part of the 'business'?
If there is place in the world with vertigo speed of change, then it is obviously Beijing and for best evidence it's good to visit it, to see it once again very different than you used to know.
Dwelling compounds or quadrangles (Siheyuan) in Beijing are one important aspect of the city's architectural heritage.
Beijing's dwelling compounds are generally rectangular, with the four sides squarely facing the cardinal points. Almost every dwelling compound is surrounded by high walls, with an open courtyard in the centre. The buildings on four sides are usually one storey high.
Nowadays, these peaceful quadrangles are hard to find in Beijing.