Our China Tour in 2006
Gene and Norma Maas
Friday afternoon, April 21 Beijing
In the afternoon we were taken on a Hutong tour. "Hutong" is a kind of ancient city alley where the common people lived. The hutongs refer to neighborhoods where buildings are arranged in quadrangles with four houses facing each other, one on each side; but, in fact, they are the narrow passageways between the walled residential compounds. The hutongs developed around the Forbidden City during the 14th to 19th centuries. About half the population of Beijing lives in hutongs. The alleys are too narrow for automobile traffic so we were toured through the area on pedicabs, which are basically 2-passenger rickshaws mounted on a tricycle powered by a driver.
While in the hutong, we were invited into a school classroom of 12-year-olds and later into the home of one of the residents for tea and cookies. The home was very small and simple and, yet, our host was able to seat 14 of us around her dining table.
In the evening we attended the Beijing Opera. Chinese opera, unlike Western opera, is a blend of opera, ballet, song, drama and comedy that incorporates Chinaís folklore, mythology, literature and culture. It was quite entertaining and enjoyable even though we arenít used to the high-pitched singing that some compare to a cat screeching.
Gene Maas 5 Jun 2006
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