HuTongs, The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square – Oct 2008

HuTongs (simplified Chinese: 胡同; : 衚衕; pinyin: hútòng) are narrow streets or alleys, most commonly associated with Beijing, China. In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another. The word hutong is also used to refer to such neighbourhoods.

Since the mid-20th century, the number of Beijing hutongs has dropped dramatically as they are demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. More recently, some hutongs have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history.

We were in this Hutong about 9 in the morning.  All around people were going to work, getting their day started and businesses opening.  We didn’t get to go inside any of the dwellings.  I would really have like to see what the traditional Chinese house is like.

The gray vehicle on the left of the picture is a 3 wheel vehicle made of gray metal.  In addition to the driver, a passenger can fit behind and faces the back window.  These were every where in Beijing along with bicycles that date back to World War II and bicycles pulling carts loaded with goods such as fruits and vegetables.

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the mid-Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five centuries, it served as the home of the Emperor and his household, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.  There is no one picture or even a group of pictures that can convey the immenseness of this place or of its elegance.  We spent about 2 hours here and saw only about half of what is open to the public.  And we weren’t alone.  In some places there were so many people we could hardly move about.

These are two of the many treasures housed at the Forbidden City.  There were many gold statues like the one on the left.  Some of them several feet high.  The headpiece on the right was in a gallery filled with jewelry and other decorative pieces such as this.

On the left is a quite courtyard inside the palace grounds.  I could see this as a place for a cool respite on a hot summer day.  In the picture on the right you can see the tile work on all of the roofs along with the ornate figures that decorate the edges.  This is one of the things we didn’t learn about that I would like to know more about.

Gene couldn’t capture all 9 dragons.  This wall is awesome.  The detail and colors are unbelievable.  This is at one end of another large open area inside the Forbidden City.

These two pictures are from Tiananmen Square.  This is another place where pictures cannot capture the size and all that is there.  Nor can it capture the history.  The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 culminating in the Tiananmen Square Massacre (referred to in Chinese as the June Fourth Incident, to avoid confusion with two other Tianamen Square protests) were a series of demonstrations in and near Tianamen Square led by labour activists, students, and intellectuals in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) between 15 April and 4 June 1989.  We did not spend any time here.  We were running behind on time and the group walked at a brisk pace the full length of the square to get to our bus.  I would really have liked to have had more information about the square’s history.

These are two examples of the many modern buildings in Beijing.  It is such a contrast of the very modern side-by-side with the ancient.  When we passed the building on the left later in the day, the two areas that are black were active as the one is on the building on the right.  Very, very large LCD screens.

Here it is.  Beijing National Stadium, also known as the National Stadium or colloquially as the “Bird’s Nest“, is a stadium in Beijing, China. The stadium was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

The Beijing National Aquatics Center, also known as the National Aquatics Center, better known as the Water Cube, is an aquatics center that was built alongside Beijing National Stadium in the Olympic Green for the swimming competitions of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Despite its nickname, the building is a cuboid (rectangular box), not a cube.

On to lunch.  This s a part of our group.  In the middle of the table is a lazy susan with a pot of tea and a few food plates.  Plates and bowls of food are placed on the lazy susan continuously throughout the meal.  The lazy susan is in almost constant motion as it is moved around the table as we each serve ourselves.  There were large amounts of food and there were always large amounts of food left at the lunches we had in this manner.  Gene was only to happy to take pictures of pretty girls.  A couple of different acts performed during our time at this restaurant.

After lunch we were off to the Beijing airport to fly to Qingdao.  It was a really long day, but there is so much to see and do.  Another interesting and intriguing day for “The Glamour of the Road”.