98 photos

Heavy smog in Hong kong covering mts down to the sea, and in Beijing smog even inside the airport building. Zhong An Hotel was in hutong district at the end of an alley, checked in about 10.30pm and went for walk, visual overload, dusty hutongs, smog diffusing the neon around the railway station, 1000s of people everywhere.
Next morning breakfast in hotel, pickled veg, stir fried cauliflower, fried tofu, cucumber salad, boiled eggs, sliced meats, zucchini balls & 3 types of strange coffee. The hotel is part of "writers' sites" with posters about Edgar & Helen Snow on the walls. Walked through the hutongs around the hotel, dusty lanes, doors opening to reveal tiny rooms with just a bed, sometimes a small tv, people sweeping off the beds and floors and tossing bowls of water out into the alley, laundry strung out, an old lady repairing shoes, a pack of small dogs trotting along officiously sniffing everything. We walked about 4kms to Tiananmen Square, very very smoggy, about 22c, the square filled with people having their photos taken against a huge kitsch bowl of fruit and flowers.
Looked around the Gates then walked to meet Deb in Luilichang cultural district, arty lanes, galleries, a project ongoing to renovate the hutongs. Had lunch in restaurant, $21 for 3 including drinks then coffee in trendy renovated hutong with cool jazz playing, sat on rooftop, gardens and chickens on roof, everything very dry and dusty. Bought green tea and green tea biscuits & snuff for presents
Walked from Luilichang to Dashilan St with Deb looking in antique shops, went upstairs in one to 'special' area, cup of burning hot tea thrust at me so I couldn't leave, made the mistake of admiring a horse statuette and they immediately started calculating shipping and offering to drop price of around $500 ... Managed to escape horse-less.
Cab to Houhai lakes district, walked along narrow streets, blind man playing string instrument, walked along the lake pestered by aggressive rickshaw drivers who were determined to get us in one, we escaped by going into a modern bar, sat on rooftop drinking Bloody Marys and looking out onto lake, someone swimming with a boat in attendance, then walked in evening light through beautiful dusty grey hutongs, mostly renovated, people walking their dogs, a large labrador sitting in motorised rickshaw. We got another cab to Chongwen district and went to restaurant near the Temple of Heaven. Couldn't get a cab afterwards & we were persuaded by guy in motorised rickshaw to take us to hotel for 30 yuan - a hair raising trip, manic driver, drove on wrong side of road beeping furiously as we turned blind corners with oncoming scooters and bikes flashing their lights, he nearly wiped out a pedestrian then crashed into a metal gate as he turned right while we were pointing no, wrong way, left, left, he was in hindsight trying to find a quiet place to rip us off, he stopped 20m short of hotel and thrust out a paper with 300 yuan written on it, we said no, you said 30, big argument, we weakened and gave him 100 to get rid of him, he wasnt satisfied, it was only resolved when we insisted he come into hotel so they could translate, then he took off in a hurry. Deb's taxi only 22 yuan but she did miss the excitement!

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Night market on a walk bridge

Night market on a walk bridge

Night market on a walk bridge

Night market on a walk bridge

Walk bridge

Walk bridge

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Beijing railway station

Hutongs near Beijing railway station

Hutongs near Beijing railway station

Hutongs near Beijing railway station

Hutongs near Beijing railway station

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Hutongs near Zhong An Hotel

Categories & Keywords
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory:Asia
Subcategory Detail:China
Keywords:Beijing, Edgar Snow, Tiananmen Square, Zhong An Hotel, hutongs