Saturday, June 7, 2008

Passing Through the Neighbourhood

I took a friend from out of town to Nanluoguxiang Hutong, an alley filled with bars, cafes and boutiques near Hou Hai.

It has a neighbourhood feel, mixing old and new, east and west.

The municipal government has invested in preserving (ie fixing up) the area, while allowing entrepreneurs to develop businesses there.

Along the way we saw men playing Chinese chess with several onlookers checking out the game's progress, and we had to constantly watch out for cars passing through the narrow street as well as bicycles.

There was also a small shop selling playful "toys" that made me wonder who would buy sex-themed things when sex education and awareness is on the low end of the scale. One would have to have guts just to buy something there.

Then some quasi-revolutionary posters caught our eye. They were actually advertising a small hotel called Creative Culture Hotel. Women dou shi hutongren, "We are all Hutongren", as in we are all people who live in these alleys and small houses unique to Beijing.

It looks quite funny with pictures of foreigners striking revolutionary poses with fists in the air and flanked by many flags of different countries.

Every time I come to this area, shops are changed, new ones opening or others closed. But it's definitely caught many people's attention, both local and foreign.

Maybe we are hutongren after all.

1 comment:

ks said...

on my visit to beijing last september, i had an evening walk through one of these hutongs. it was a nice neighbourhood indeed. it had all sorts of things going on simultaneously. there was classical chinese music, people singing, playing hot air-lantern, hawkers selling ,guitar music playing in bars, people chatting on the narrow alleys. it was a festival atmosphere mixed with east and west flavour. it was quite an unforgetable experience.