Hutongs

Not strictly a birding post but I thought readers might be interested in seeing some images from our visit to one of the remaining areas of traditional Hutongs in Beijing.

The word hutong came from the Mongolian language about 700 years ago.  The original Mongolian word was “hottog”, meaning “water well”.  This was always a place where people lived, because people always gathered where there was water.  Today in Beijing, the word hutong means a small alleyway or lane. They are typical of the old part of Beijing and are formed by lines of siheyuan (a compound made up of rooms around a courtyard ) in which most Beijing residents used to live.

Most of the original hutongs have been cleared away to make way for new, high-rise building but there are still several areas where this traditional way of life can be seen.  On national day (1 Oct) we visited one of the more upmarket Hutong districts at Luanghou Lane that has been preserved and, to some extent, commercialised.  It was originally built in 1267 and was part of the Zhaohui Community under the Yuan District.  There were lots of nice snug-looking cafes, restaurants and independent shops selling all sorts of merchandise from clothes to pottery to paintings to food.  The area was bustling with tourists – mostly Chinese but with the odd western face mixed in.

A street view of one of the more popular Hutongs in Beijing

Even here, birds were in evidence with Azure-winged Magpies squawking overhead and a few Yellow-browed Warblers calling from the trees…

The entrance from the Hutong to the residences inside
A traditional Chinese bicycle, many of which are still in use, particularly by the communities living in the Hutongs
A Terracotta warrior dressed up for National Day

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