Beijing’s labyrinth of backstreets that’s home to “the city’s hardest bar to find”.
I spent the first three days of my time in Beijing getting lost in its labyrinth of “Hutongs” (backstreets/courtyards). Hutongs originated during the Yuan Dynasty, begun by Kublai Khan grandson of Ghengis. The word “hutong” comes from the Mongolian word “hottog” meaning, “water well”. Hutongs are alleyways that connect the various courtyards and groups of traditional houses. They form a grid of endless passages and intriguing doorways, lined with bicycles and gossiping neighbors.
You tend to get a lot of curious stares in the Hutongs if you sport an occidental face like me. Add to this the fact it’s 1am and you’re completely lost in a maze of dark alleys and you’d be forgiven for getting a bit scared. But the night a friend and I got lost looking for a bar (whose motto was “the most difficult bar to find in Beijing”), we felt completely safe. Of course this may well have something to do with the Chinese government’s strict policies with regards to the treatment of tourists. But this big group of homes also just felt like a genuinely nice place, somewhere I was very sad to leave.
Beijing is a ready-made template for panoramic shots. Tourist baits like The Great Wall, Forbidden City and Summer Palace stretch for miles. Those who walk from end to end will have more to say. For instance, that the ground goes on to infinity. Or that they have never been so tired and amazed all at once.
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