HUTONG TOUR and LUNCH
I wish I would have taken better pictures of this particular adventure. After we were finished at the Summer Palace, it was time for us to take our rickshaw ride into the traditional housing area of a typical Chinese family in a walled-compound area called a hutong and eat lunch in their home. Getting into the rickshaw was no easy task for Berenice, and of course there were no step stools for her. We were hounded mercilessly by the street vendors. One had scarves. I was wanting to buy scarves, but I had something specific in mind (silk, actually). Kind of. But this one lady must have understood when I said, "Later," thinking we'd go away and not see her again. Well, was I ever wrong! She followed us on HER bike! Always yelling to us, "You buy! Good deal! " And coming down--way, way down on her price. It was almost too hard to pass up. However, I didn't like them particularly, so I didn't buy. I even tried the special words we were taught that means, "No thank you, I do not wish to buy." Politely. It didn't work with this lady for a long time.
Anyway, we stopped for some information about the significance and symbolism of the entry doors on our way to the house and everyone else got out to stand around to listen to our guide, but our rickshaw driver was so considerate. He said not to get out, knowing how difficult it was for Berenice, and pulled us up to where we could see and hear what was going on. They were all so polite and accommodating! (Except there were no step stools, ramps or elevators in some places).
This is just the backs of rickshaws. Two per bicycle driver. They even gave us lap blankets because it was so cold.
The guide for this little extra mini excursion (which was $35 each!) is in the gray jacket, our pesky sales lady is in the white cap. See her scarf around her neck? Not what I wanted to buy. She would have sold me her entire bag for $20. But I didn't LIKE them!
Gathering around the table and eating. I ate this whole meal with chopsticks and my hand was tired afterward. Everyone else used forks (wimps!)
Vegetables, peanuts, meat, tofu. We're not really sure what we're eating most of the time, but we passed her kitchen on the way in and the food was still raw, so she cooked it fresh for us. I liked it. Except the tofu. That wasn't our favorite.
We kept hearing LOUD crickets. They were grasshoppers in cages, actually. Very big and VERY loud. But they did quiet down after a bit. Linda Clark is the one sitting right by them. She was just mildly alarmed about having them right behind her back and was quite startled when she first saw them in their cages.
I never think to take pictures BEFORE meals are consumed.
And the lady of the house also had birds in cages outside in her mini-courtyard area.
Behind the glass windows on the right is her cooking area. The birds are outside by the door to the living area. It's very primitive in some ways, yet they had a computer in their home. And a TV, microwave, small refrigerator. There are just common bathrooms, however. They were smelly. Ick. I think they may have had a half-bath or something. We only saw the one room we were eating in. And everyone pretty much only has one child. Period.
We rode our rickshaws back out of the hutong area and got back on the bus to go to our next stop of the day. Berenice sat this next one out because of the amount of walking it would entail.