Hutongs are alleys formed by lines of Seheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Many neighborhoods were formed by joining one Siheyuan to another to form a Hutong.
The number of Hutongs has dropped dramatically as they are being demolished to pave way for new roads and buildings. We toured the Beijing hutongs by pedicab.
Bell Tower and Drum Tower
The mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty are located here. Only the Changling and Dingling tombs are open to the public.
Each tomb is located at the foot of a separate hill and is linked with the other tombs by a road called the Sacred Way, which are lined with stone statues, each carved from one marble stone. There are 12 human figures and 24 animals, which are lion, camel, elephant, xiezhi (a mythological unicorn) gilin (a divine animal), drafons, phoenix, tortoise and horse. All the animals are placed as an auspicious symbol, for eg the Xiezhi is kept to ward evil spirits away.
The lawns here are lush green and surrounded by orchards of fruit trees. The Changling tomb also houses a museum, where you can view the gowns, crowns, and other artifacts which were buried along with the emperor.
Food For Thought
Thanks to the mails of some of my dear friends, I was expecting rodent teriyaki, monkey brains steamed, reptiles fried, dog meat, cat roast and snake steaks for my lunch and dinner. Fortunately or unfortunately, did not have the pleasure of tasting any of them, and did not make any attempt to see them too. Promise to be more adventurous the next time around ;).
We had a few meals in typical Chinese restaurants and as we had many vegetarians in our tour group, who were surviving on bread, butter and salads, we ended up having more Indian meals than we had bargained for. There are many Indian restaurants in China, (Indian Kitchen, with benches all over, Punjabi daabas etc) with the waitresses dressed up in typical Indian clothes and giving us a ‘namaste’ as well. So our saga of having only Chinese food all throughout our trip was only a pipe-dream.
One of the highlights of our trips was a banquet dinner at Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, renowned for its ‘Peking Duck’ and other delicacies. It boasts of a clientele of various ambassadors, rulers and royalty, with pictures plastered all over its lobby. We were served a roasted Peking Duck, which was very succulent and tasted real yummy. The restaurant has a ‘Duck Meter’ which records every duck that is roasted. On the day we visited, the meter reading read 115,245,577, so @ RMB 180/- per duck, the owners family must be laughing and guffawing all the way to the bank.
I Have taken pictures of some of the foods that we had and hope you enjoy seeing them. In a characteristic Chinese restaurant, all the dishes are placed in the center of a table, on a rotating platform, and each person takes food from the dishes using their chopsticks or spoon and places it in their individual bowl to eat.
At Afanti restaurant, you can order the special BQ Kebabs as ‘Long’ as you like them. Ours looked small, but our neighbour had one which must have been about 1 meter. Unfortunately, before I got my camera ready, it was loaded onto the plate.
To be continued, stay tuned…!
Author: Judith Serrao- UAE