Thursday, August 21, 2008


One of my favorite places in Beijing was a place just across the street from TianAnMen Square. This place was a maze of winding narrow streets. Cars could not navigate streets so narrow. Motorcycles even had a hard time getting past pedestrians during most times of the day.

There were little shops near the entrance where you could have silk clothes made. You could buy souvenirs. Further in there were old homes and restaurants. Everywhere you walk you could the older crowd speaking in their Peking Hua, a dialect of Chinese with a thick tongued accent.

I have had fantastic meals in this market. Restaurants were not proper restaurants, they were just homes open up to the public. To walk down these streets was to step back in time. Most of the buildings were more than two hundred years old. To walk into one of these restaurants put you in another world. You would have an old man snoring in the corner wearing his 'mao suite' on his table would be a pile of spit out bones, by his side would be an equally slumbering dog. There would be a group of men at a table getting drunk playing a drinking game, voices getting louder with every chug. There would not be menus every dish would need to be discussed by the girl taking the order.

To me this was always the 'classic BeiJing' the 'classic China'. This was where in the middle of international class modern city, you could take a short walk and experience the beauty and feel of times past.

Last year on a trip to China with my oldest son. This was one of the places I just knew would be a highlight. I wanted to show him this 'classic China'. I wanted to step back in time with him to this place that time forgot. 

Gate to the Old City 

Of course I had talked this place up. I told Dylan all about it. When we got there... we were three months too late. The whole area had been bull-dozed but for the gate at the entrance.  This was a real let down. I understand the need to modernize. I understand the need for progress. When large historic areas are removed... you can not help but have feelings about it.

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