Saturday, October 11, 2008
2 Towers in 1 day
We have been using a guide book called Beijing's Top 10 and have just about covered all of the sights listed. Hou Hai was still missing. Hou Hai is another Hutong and is a very touristy area as we found out. The area is also home to the Bell and Drum Towers which were used to keep time in ancient times. We took the subway down and hopped in a cab outside the station for a short ride to Hou Hai. We visited the towers first. They are within a 100 yards of each other and they are very tall. We went to see the bell tower first. The bell tower is made of brick and stands 33 meters high.
There are many stairs leading up to the top of the tower and they are very steep. Some western tourists were commenting and wishing me luck climbing the stairs with Olivia in the back pack but we managed. (I am in much better shape than I was before I left). This is what the stairs looked like going up.
When we made it to the top we met up with a Canadian couple and their adopted daughter. They were on a trip to adopt again. They were very nice and were very interested to hear about our experiences living here. The bell in the tower was big and I'm sure it would be loud when rung however this bell is only rung on special occasions and unfortunately our visit did not constitute one.
The views from the top were very nice as you can see. This picture gives a contrast between old and new Beijing. Old hutong roof tops fore and high rises aft.
The Drum Tower was next.
The drum tower is 47 meters high and the stairs up to the top were just as steep if not a little more. We climbed up and once again had some great views of Beijing. In this shot you can see both Beihai and Jingshan (Coal Hill) parks in the distance.
Me and Olivia waiting for the drum show to start.
Sandy and a big drum.
From the top of the drum tower I was able to see Hou Hai and was able to navigate the streets and find it. We walked down a pedestrian street lined with shops.
An "antique shop" and its proprietor.
Rickshaws lined up waiting for tourists.
Typical doorway to a courtyard home. This one is of a prominent citizen. You can determine the status of a home by how many hexagons are above the door. The more there are the richer the family.
A boat spotted from the side of lotus lane.
An artists studio shop. Notice the sign in the middle of the picture.
On our way back from Lotus lane we ran into a very friendly rickshaw driver who spoke English rather well. His name was Zhang Duan and he persuaded us to take a tour with him. Apparently he is a famous driver and has been featured in newspaper articles and TV programs. He was quite a character.
He showed us all around the hutong pointing out various homes of important people and explaining the history. Duan dropped us off and said zaijian. It was a great way to end our day of exploring.
This is a picture of the Silver Ignot Bridge. This bridge dates back to the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368.
The bridge spans a narrow channel that connects two lakes and it is quite funny to watch all the boats trying to get through. I spotted a really cute girl on the bridge smiling at me and captured her here.
This area is more or less a hopping night spot and with the sun going down it was beginning to get crowded. We decided to head back home and began our walk back to the subway. These are some of the sights we saw along the way.
Peking Roasted Duck being made right in front of you.
More hutong homes.
An ornate door handle.
Another great day in Beijing exploring and we're still finding surprises.
Until next time Zaijian!