China, Travel Tales

China: Rickshaw and Hutongs: March 2016

Our second day in Beijing was spent at the Forbidden City, where the emperors of China once lived. I have actually posted this story already and you can read it here. Also, if you have any interest in learning more about the Forbidden City check out the movie The Last Emperor. This review of the movie is a good one to start with.

Our last day in Beijing was different than the last two. Instead of visiting a big monuments to the strength and proof of the history of China we visited a smaller portion of their history. Smaller but no less significant. It was cold that morning as we climbed into the rickshaw. Rickshaws are small two seater carts that are pulled behind a bicycle. The rickshaws took us through the hutong neighborhood. It was humbling. These neighborhoods with such rich history reduced to a shadow due to time and various changes in government, at least the one we visited seemed that way.

One of the planned activities was we were able to meet and speak with a family that lived in the area. We sat in this tiny living room and were served jasmine tea. Ms. Wang lived alone in a house of 60 sq meters. The home was one large room with a small kitchen off to the right as you walked in. The house was at one time 300 sq meters but parts were seized at various points in history from original owners and up to eight families had lived with its walls. Everyone in our tour group listened to the matrons story but I decided to take notes also. Stories tend to last longer in they are written down.

Her grandfather had worked for the empress’ family and had the skill of painting the inside of small glass snuff jars. A talent that was passed down to his descendants. Ms. Wang is older now and along with going to school to learn to arrange flowers, cross stitch, and cut paper she decided to open her home to foreign travelers.  

I loved this visit. We got to experience the daily life, in a way, of the people. We experienced the heart of the country as it currently in rather than just the monuments to times gone by.  Also, if you enjoy my blog please consider buying me a cup of coffee.

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