The Hutongs of Beijing – Beijing Province, China
A Pedicab into the Vanishing Alleyways of Old Peking
The bustling, polluted Chinese capital of American fast food, traffic jams, and aesthetics-free architecture is one of Beijing’s two sides.
The other can be glimpsed by taking a pedicab trip through narrow, labyrinthine alleyways (hutongs) where only the awning-covered vehicles can maneuver. In quiet corners of Beijing, far from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, honking horns give way to the occasional ding of bicycle bells and the sound of chickens and ducks from inside walled courtyards – the lingering vestiges of traditional everyday life in a city projected to reach a population of 15 million by the year 2040.
Go soon: The simple single-story houses in these pre-Communist urban villages are quickly being torn down and replaced by sterile high-rise monoliths and Western-style shopping malls, and in the process, traditional neighborhoods and lifestyles that go back to the Qing dynasty and beyond are being lost.