My second sightseeing mission of Beijing started with visiting one of the Beijing hutongs. Hutongs are old neighbourhoods composed of little alleys and siheyuans, houses with a yard inside. In Beijing there are lots of them, while some were torn down, some of them became very pricy piece of real estate and people who inherited them may be considered as very rich. For those who have been to Sarajevo, it is best to compare them with Baščaršija. This time I visited Nanluoguxiang Hutong where you can arrive directly with subway that has that very name. The subway station itself is already aligned with the hutongs in a way that is covered with grey bricks, same ones that were used for construction of hutongs. As a friend informed me, that is actually some sort od Korean stone that protects well from the water and heat and therefore is responsible for good climate in the house.
Nanluoguxiang Hutong Subway Station
On the way to Nanluoguxiang Hutong
Although hutongs used to be primarily used for living, Nanluoguxiang Hutong proves that they transformed to vivid touristic and shopping areas. Here you can find all sorts of interesting shops that will tempt you to visit them. One of my favorite was definitively a cosmetic shop that is actually as I heard from Shanghai. Although you can find there all kinds of cosmetic products, they are best known for their solid perfumes and of course I could not resist buying one for me.
Beside cosmetics,in this hutnog you will also find a shop with traditional tea cups and a shop with sun umbrellas and hand-fans. Yes, Chinese people like to protect them from the sun with umbrellas, I see them very often on a sunny day. This is related with the fact that the majority of women believes that a fair complexion is sign of beauty and avoids to be tanned.
Shop with Sun Umbrellas and Hand Fans
In the stores I have also often seen a big pot with fishes, sorry I just can’t call them aquariums since some of them were literally buckets with water and fish in it, I guess it brings good luck.
What I also found interesting is the ancient candy made by blowing some special mix of sugar and water into interesting animal figures.
Retro Sugar Candy
There was also an interesting shop where everything was designed with one sort of flower that is very popular in China since it blossoms for a very short time.
Flower Design Shop
Flowers are generally loved by Chinese people so you can often find it as clothes pattern and people often take photos with them. As you can also see on the photo bellow, they are even making ice creams in the shape of flowers.
Flower Ice Cream
Some 15-20 min from the Nanluoguxiang Hutong is a Lama Temple that I wanted to visit. The trip was definitively worth it. It is a beautiful buddhist temple that actually was originally built as a residence of a prince who later gave it to Tibetan monks. Buddhism is just one of the present religions in China. The biggest religion in China is kind of traditional Chinese belief based on worshiping different gods and ancestors, then you have buddhism, Taoism, christianity and islam…
Before entering the Lama Temple, there were lots of shops where you can buy different religious products. I found very interesting this false money that you can see on the photo that is usually burned to honour the death, it serves as a reminder that no possessions can be taken with you when you die.
Paper Money & Co
The atmosphere of the temple is very nice, beside tourists like me, there were lots of people who really came to honour their religion and it have an authentic touch to the place.
In the halls you can also find very impressive statues of Buddha. Later, I found out that in this temple there is the world’s biggest Buddha statue carved out of one piece of wood/tree. I guess it must be the one mega tall statue that I was impressed with.
Statues of Buddha in Lama Temple
There are also other interesting things to see in the temple, like the drums that need to be rolled for good luck, or kind of a fire place where you need to throw money for luck as well.
What I found very cute are the little sculptures on the top of the roof. The turtles sculptures on the ground are also very nice and there is the whole story on the turtles and how the world was created but I forgot it to be honest. Of course the statue of lion could not be missed as well.
Turtles who hold the world
The Mighty Lion