Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Houhai Area - Beijing and Hairy Monkeys

Kaorouji restaurant on Qianhai near Houhai in Beijing

The other day after we left the Drum and Bell Towers we walked through the Houhai area on our way to the subway station.

Here is the earlier post about the Drum and Bell Towers.  Drum and Bell Towers
Yandaixie Jie near Houhai in Beijing

These next few pictures are of some back alleys or hutongs that lead to the Houhai area. They are a very popluar tourist area - lots of shops and cafes.

It was pretty busy on Sunday afternoon.

There are shops selling every sort of souvenir you can imagine.
Pedestrians on Yandaixie Jie near Houhai in Beijing

This street is Yandaixie if you are looking for it.

This is Houhai. It is connected to Qianhai under the bridge I am standing on.

OK, here is a little Chinese lesson. The Chinese characters for Houhai are 后海 which mean back (as in behind) lake or sea. 后=back, 海=big lake or sea. The romanization of these characters in the pinyin system is hòuhǎi - hence the name Houhai. Qianhai means front lake. The character 上 is pronounced shang and means "above". Can you think of a large Chinese city whose name means "above the sea"?
Pedicabs for hutong tours at Houhai in Beijing

A popular tourist activity in this area is the hutong tour. You can sit in the back of these 3 wheel bikes and they will drive you through the hutongs and along the lake. There were a bunch of them waiting. I guess it was a slow day.
A "hairy monkey" - traditional Beijing handicraft

We stumbled onto a shop selling a traditional Beijing handicraft known as "hairy monkeys". These hairy monkeys are made from cicada parts and magnolia flower buds and are typically shown in traditional daily life settings or activities. Most of the work is in creating the setting. The range of activities that are depicted is pretty amazing.

The artist was gracious enough to pose with us. I'll update the name when I can find his business card.

You can find more info about hairy monkeys here.  Hairy Monkeys

Click to enlarge.

The following weekend I went back to the area with a tripod to take some night pictures. I thought it might be fun. I was wrong. I didn't dress warmly enough and I was too early for the crowds.

This is Yandaixie street, also. Pretty empty compared to earlier.

If you look back a few pictures you may recognize this location in  the daytime pictures.

Same with this one.

I don't know what time the shops here close. I imagine 9:00 PM or so.

This is Houhai again. Both lakes are lined with bars and restaurants - mostly bars. It is supposedly a fun place in the evening when the weather is nice. Most of the bars will put tables out on the sidewalk.

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