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A Slice Of Ancient Beijing To Take You Back In Time
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Beijing may be racing towards an amazing future at a rapid pace, but behind the city's glittering towers, a quick peek will take you to a matchless part of old Beijing where time stands still. A stopover at the centuries-old Hutong alleyways will amaze you. These tree-lined alleyways are the heartbeat of this city and a real-life connection to its enthralling past. If you visit Beijing, Hutong is an indispensable location to be explored. During the ancient times, thousands of narrow lanes, Hutongs as well as quadrangles (Siheyuan), constituted housing regions for common citizens of Beijing. These alleyways have survived for centuries and serve as a must-see spot in old Beijing.
Witness the attractive traits of Hutongs
When rest of the city scurries around in suits with a takeaway coffee and an iPhone, old people sit on wooden chairs and stools at the entrance of their old Hutong bungalows; playing chess, drinking beer and chatting leisurely. On your entire Beijing tour, this is the place where there's less likelihood to see a taxi and more probability to see market sellers riding on their squeaky rickshaws and calling out their respective wares. This enchanting maze of lanes has old and walled courtyard homes. More esteemed abodes are adorned by chunky red doors having either a pair of perching lions or a couple of drum stones. Over the years, many homes have been converted into a dilapidated set of constricted, one-storey homes, alongside the narrowest of snaking pathways. Living conditions are basic, with a one-room family-house, a small shed-like kitchen-conversion and no personal toilets. It's this bizarre mix of antique aristocratic construction and contemporary salt-of-the-earth locals that renders a unique character to the Hutong alleys.
Best way to enjoy the alleyways
The best experience in the Beijing tours is to simply wander across the Hutongs, either on rickshaws, by foot or bicycle. Take a half-day tour to enjoy it. Good locations include the alleys circling the Drum Tower, the ones that branch off from the bar-street alley named Nanluogu Xiang and some exist at south-west of Tiananmen Square in a place called Dashilan. You can view something regal, look for the imperial Hutong courtyards. Chat with local people and learn about their way of life. You'll get a genuine experience by interacting with simple Chinese people. Finish off your tour with some refreshments at the China Tea House and enjoy tea ceremony. Try out different sorts of tea and reinvent each tea's unique taste.
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