Beijing, May 11: Bell and Drum Towers and the Hutong Area at Houhai Lake

Bell Tower
Drum Tower

Bell Tower Information



Bell and Drum Towers


After leaving the community center we had a brief look at Beijing’s Bell Tower (above left) and Drum Tower (above right), and then we checked out star-rated toilets before heading for the hutong area at Houhai Lake.












There we noticed incredible electric utility wiring and mysterious passageways before even venturing any further.

Star rated toilets


Electric wires


Expert Paper Cutter


Yi Xie took us to the China Butterfly Zheng Paper Cut Art Studio, a shop in the hutong area, and introduced us to Butterfly Zheng, a Mongolian lady who is a world-class paper cutter. As we watched, she folded a single piece of red paper twice; then for about 10 minutes she made a series of freehand cuts with scissors. When she unfolded the paper, we saw that three pigs, all different, had been created at the same time.


Butterfly Zheng will be participating in an international juried art show in Santa Fe, NM, later in 2006. We thanked her, and Yi gave each of us a hand-made souvenir paper-cut bookmark (below).


Papercut bookmark


Butterfly Zheng


Finishing papercut


Papercutting done



Touring the Hutong area at Houhai Lake by Pedicab


Bar sign
Food vendor

As we waited for pedicabs to take us through the hutongs, we examined unfamiliar rules posted outside a bar and watched a food vendor serve unfamiliar treats from a cart.


In pedicab
In pedicab


We settled into several pedicabs for a tour of a Beijing hutong area, where courtyard homes and shops are densely packed, and accessible only by very narrow alleys (hutongs). We passed through many hutongs barely wide enough for two pedicabs to pass each other and there were enough pedicabs to create traffic problems. All of them seemed to be carrying tourists.


Tourists in pedicab
Tourists in pedicab

Hutong doorway
Hutong doorway

We also stopped and got out at the doorways of two hutong courtyard homes (above), while the pedicab tour guide commented on the markings over them. I cannot recall just what he explained, but Yi Xie later told me that the four Chinese characters over the door at right are Yi Xiang Ru Yi, meaning auspicion and blessing.


Chinese Medicine Clinic in the Hutong Area at Houhai Lake


Yi Xie shows drawers
Lots of drawers





We visited a Chinese medicine clinic in the hutong area. Yi Xie showed us that they have a lot of traditional medicines in drawers and jars.


We gathered in a patient examining room and the doctor came in. Llani decided to try it out. The doctor took her pulse while at the same time discerning all the things which might be ailing her. He told her that she was in good shape and gave her a neck massage. Llani decided she liked this medicine.

Yi Xie shows jars

Examining room

Doctor with Llani
Neck massage


Hutong Area at Houhai Lake


Temple of Universal Enlightenment


Finally, we looked at the Guanghuasi (Temple of Universal Enlightenment), a major active Beijing Buddhist temple. Then we explored a shopping street in the hutong area, where a dog with leather shoes added a touch of elegance (below).

Street corner

Fruit stand