Hutongs of Beijing

Have spent a fascinating afternoon visiting first the Beijing Bell and Drum towers, then the hutongs of the area.

The Bell and Drum towers were ancient time keeping devices, so that workers could keep time before watches/timepieces were common. More information here.

The hutongs are narrow alleyways between lines of traditional courtyard residences. We toured the streets of these hutongs by pedal rickshaw (pedicab) – and stopped several times to visit the homes of Beijing residents who lived in some of these hutongs. As a preserved area, homes in the hutongs are highly sought after, especially with their historical connection to the Feng-Shui of the Ming dynasty. We saw several occupied hutongs, and were grateful to the Beijing citizens who allowed us into their homes.

Arrival in Beijing

We arrived safe and sound in Beijing after a pleasant journey. We were very privileged to have the use of the BA Club class lounge in Heathrow, and then to receive an upgrade to business class! If only I could always travel like this – a reclining seat that turns into a bed seems like an essential part of a long haul flight!

We arrived at the new Terminal 3 building, which only opened in February this year. Last time I came to Beijing I used the old terminal so using the new, shiny and extremely modern terminal (with monorail from arrivals to baggage claim) came as a surprise. Although I couldn’t take any pictures in the airport, this wikipedia entry shows terminal 3.

The pickup and transport to the airport was without incident and seemed relatively sedate by Beijing standards – perhaps that’s due to the rain. Did I mention it is raining here? Check out the picture from my hotel room window! I’m hoping the rain doesn’t spoil our Hutong tour booked in an hour.

Youtube for a nostalgia trip…

Don’t ask me why but when I was sat at my desktop pc I suddenly wondered if Youtube would have any of the favourite videos from when I was a teenager many years ago. Sure enough I found an amazing collection of Debbie Gibson videos including the one linked below. It also inspired me to find out what she was up to now – which led to her website and her myspace site.Unfortunately Youtube is blocked across my educational institutions across the UK, but it is a massive video archive of popular culture and well worth a look. Youtube isn’t just for silly clips recorded on mobile phones!