After 102 consecutive days of taking and posting a photograph the streak comes to an end. We arrived home last night after a week in Beijing and today’s gray, wet day was a perfect excuse to stay in the house, finish watching the last three episodes of this season’s House of Cards (dang, Frank Underwood!), take a nap and begin laying out our suitcases for next Sunday’s trip to the United States–a week in Seattle, nine nights in NYC, and a month in Boise with Hannah, Mike (lucky guy!) and soon-to-be granddaughter Mia Sharp.
This picture was taken this past week, in Beijing. In the mostly monotone environs of the hutongs–the walls, the roofs and the sky all covered in an ashen gray– this wall jumped out. And the inscription–“Wherever my parents go, that is my home.” really struck a cord with me, given the huge numbers of families that are split apart by the urbanization that is modern day China.
I wandered from the crowds in Tienanmen to the Soloist Coffee shop in a nearby hutong for a mug of the best coffee in Beijing. Afterwards, I zigged and zagged through the hutong, working my way south, avoiding the main commercial strip, when I happened upon this empty, old building. The metal doors had a small, square opening on the left; I walked up the steps and peered in.
Here is what I saw:
Beijing’s hutongs are disappearing at an alarming rate, replaced by luxury malls, office buildings and apartment complexes. And while the loss of these historic neighborhoods are mourned by some, and no doubt their disappearance also takes with them a way of life, they are old and crumbling–substandard housing we would call them in the USA.
This hutong is southeast of Tianenmen and I headed there after watching the flag lowering ceremony in the square. It was dark by the time I found it and there was minimal light on most of the narrow alleys. I was looking for a way out of the neighborhood when I noticed a red glow a couple of blocks to my south, so I worked my way toward it and discovered this lone sign advertising the location of a traditional Peking Duck restaurant. A literal red light district.
Just about a mile northwest of this spot the National People’s Congress is convening on Wednesday for a 10 day meeting; according to news reports, 80 of the politically connected representatives in attendance are billionaires. With a ‘B’