Most of Beijing is covered in big concrete buildings. There are only a couple of places left in the center of the city where the old neighborhoods haven’t been demolished (yet?) and where there are no high-rise buildings, the houses are small and the streets are narrow. Walking in these characteristic hutongs is one of my favorite things to do. I discover new things every time I walk through one of them, like really cool markets or incredibly delicious street food.
Last Saturday me and a friend visited the hutong near Houhai lake. After a couple of minutes walking in this neighborhood we bumped into a small, but busy street where there was lots of traffic: bicycles, motorbikes and cars trying to pass each other. There were stalls where they made hand pulled noodles, but also people selling veggies or various kinds of snacks. There were also cute kids doing their homework and ladies who were playing Mahjong. Very close to this street there were several markets: the first was a big indoor – and not so hygienic – meat/poultry/fish market and a little bit further down the road was a market where they had all random stuff like kitchen supplies, closets and electronics and finally we walked through an even bigger veggies and fruit market. Since the neighborhood with its markets was so authentic and there were no other tourists than ourselves I definitely prefer strolling around these neighborhoods in the weekend over the overcrowded touristy spots.