Streets of Beijing
We wanted to know the Beijing they weren’t showing us on travel brochures. We wanted to know more; what was behind the neon storefronts, crowded intersections and incessant drilling and hammering that had filled our heads since we arrived, indicators of vibrant growth and modernization. Someone told us to go check out the hutongs. And that is where we found what we were looking for.
If you want to see a Beijing beyond the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, step off the main streets. Duck underneath the laundry hanging out to dry on the line that spans the narrow alley and dodge the tuk-tuks trying to pass on your left. And your right. Step over a pile of feces that the stray dog ahead of you has just laid, and follow him when turns to look back at you, almost as if to say, this is the way. Disregard the stares of the locals who are more curious than they are rude and offer up your best ‘ni hao’ when your eyes meet. Follow your nose towards the rich scent of frying dough and hand over a few yuan to the woman behind the counter who will in return hand you a warm, sagging bag of ji dan bing, the most delicious savory breakfast you can imagine: eggs in a crepe, cilantro, a brown sauce and a crispy wonton center that dissolves with the heat. The street food is incredible in Beijing.
Try all of it.
And allow yourself to get lost, just a little, in these hutongs. You might just find that you end up discovering a little more about yourself.
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