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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Friday, 02 Sep 2011

Location: Beijing, China

MapAt first glance, Beijing seems to be a thoroughly modern city. Looking deeper, you realise how wrong this impression is.
Our tour today took us to the Old City, where our rickshaw navigated the narrow alleyways of the Hutong. Hutong are central courtyard houses where many residents live together. The hutong areas are rapidly disappearing and then so do the old traditions. The houses were formerly the homes of the well to do, but now some are privately owned after the government took them over.
The rickshaw ride was great fun particularly when the brake was applied ! It took us to the market house and then as a group we went to a resident's house where we could meet a resident and through an interpreter ask questions about his life.
Whilst we were there, the national cricket fighting champion arrived and showed us how he trains his crickets. His champion cricket costs 50,000 pounds to buy. Cricket fighting is huge business in Beijing where there are wealthy business men wanting to bet money in competitions.
After lunch, we went to Liulichang, West street where there are many craft shops in particular, calligraphy. This was lovely.
We went then to the Drum Tower, to watch the performance of the beating of the drums to tell the time. From here there was a good view of the city.
Dinner was interesting, and we have some stories to tell about the squat toilets here..
Later that day we caught the overnight sleeper to Xian- and the railway station is yet another story to tell.