Saturday, November 24, 2007

China Odyssey, Day 10 - Beijing

Day 10 – Beijing
Saturday November 24
Hutong, Home Lunch, & Night Train

On Saturday we checked out of our hotel and headed for a tour of another Hutong district, and another home-hosted lunch. Hutong is a Mongolian word meaning water well. In a traditional Chinese residence, the well is located in a center courtyard, surrounded by many small rooms in which families lived. There is generally 1 toilet for 20 families. The hutong we visited is not quite so primitive. It is undergoing massive renovations and has been in the Jong family for over 150 years. Encouraged by the government, today most Chinese live in high-rise condominiums.

Entertainment in the Hutong District

Chinese Construction Vehicle

Local Transportation in the Hutong

Hutong Produce Vehicle

The home we visited for lunch was that of a painter and his wife, a retired factory worker. We were first given a cooking lesson in dumpling making. Keith actually made a dumpling. Kathy took a picture of the event, as it is probably the only time we will ever see Keith cooking. Lunch was very good. After lunch we looked at the artist's portfolio. His specialty is painting on rice paper. He sold many of his paintings to our group.

Keith Prepares a Dumpling at Our Home-Hosted Lunch

As we left the house, we ran the gauntlet of street vendors, who were very happy to see "big noses" exiting the residence. “Big nose” is Chinese slang for Westerners. Kathy bought a beautiful black and orange scarf to use as the weather turns cooler. We continued walking along the banks of the Grand Canal, dodging vendors and rickshaws along the way.

The Grand Canal in Beijing

Our next stop was the Walmart Super center in downtown Beijing. It was mobbed! There were 50 checkouts, and of course Kathy managed to get into the slowest line.

Another Familiar Sight Touchstone

After our retail therapy session, we moved on to another Chinese supper. We both enjoy Chinese, but we are beginning to crave a big juicy steak. After supper we proceeded to the train station for our overnight trip to Xian.

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