Hutongs at Qianmen Part 2, Beijing, China

Continuing the series on Beijing neighbourhoods started with the Hutongs at Beilu Guxiang and the first foray into the vast Qianmen area, today I’d like to take you back to the Qianmen area with a focus on regular day to day life. Visiting traditional Hutong areas is one of my favourite ways to spend a Sunday in Beijing.

The images were taken in April in case you’re wondering why people are wearing warm clothes in the summer. Rest assured, it’s a balmy 40C almost everyday now, with some pretty good rains too, which will go a long way to helping the city’s dry reservoirs. 

It’s always fun to show the glittery, new and shiny side of Beijing, but I also think it’s important to not lose sight of the immense history that this 3,000 year old city has to offer. The hutong areas, which are now being restored rather than torn down, provide excellent insight into how life was like up to 700 years ago.

Residents hanging around in Qianmen Hutong Beijing
Residents hanging around in Qianmen Hutongs; GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/50sec f/8
Old men fixing a bike in Qianmen Hutong Beijing
Old men fixing a bike in Qianmen Hutong; GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/450sec f/2.8
Alipay Bicycle lit by sunset in Qianmen Hutong
Alipay Bicycle lit by sunset in Qianmen Hutong; GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/680sec f/2.8
Shared rental bicycles litter the street in Qianmen
GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/480sec f/2.8

I want to make a special mention about the share bike industry in China. While they got a lot of negative attention for extensive bankruptcies in the past few years, the companies that have survived appear to be thriving. The streets are full of people riding Alipay, Didi, and Tencent bikes. The convenience of riding these bikes is incredible and I hope that all western cities adopt this type of model.

To take a bike, you scan the QR code on the back, which unlocks the bike and attaches your phone to the bike. When you arrive at your destination, park in a designated bike spot (there are spots at every intersection in Beijing), and slide the lock over. The bike will notify the app and you’ll get charged 1.27 RMB or about $0.20 for the ride. It’s an excellent way to get around town, and when you’re able to visit Beijing again, I’d highly recommend trying it out.

People playing games in Qianmen Hutong Beijing
People playing games in Qianmen Hutong Beijing; GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/220sec f/2.8
Entrance to hutong in Qianmen Beijing
Entrance to hutong in Qianmen Beijing; GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/34sec f/8
Man walking in sunset in alley in Qianmen Hutong
GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/1400sec f/2.8
Typical Peking Dog hanging out in Qianmen Hutong
Typical Peking Dog hanging out in Qianmen Hutong; GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/250sec f/2.8
Motorcycle in Qianmen Hutong
GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/1300sec f/2.8
Dumpling shop in Qianmen
Excellent dumpling shop in Qianmen; GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/42sec f/7.1
Fried dumplings bought on the street in Qianmen
Fried dumplings bought on the street in Qianmen; GFX100S 45mm ISO-160 1/34sec f/2.8
Staff hanging out having a laugh
GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/400sec f/2.8
Maintenance worker matching the wall in Qianmen
GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/450sec f/2.8
Carts still thrive on the streets of Beijing
Carts still thrive on the streets of Beijing; GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/640sec f/5.6
Sneakers out to dry in Qianmen
GFX100S 45mm ISO-100 1/170sec f/2.8
Carts still thrive on the streets of Beijing
Every form of transportation survives the small alleys of Beijing; GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/2000sec f/2.8
Cart driver taking a break
GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/125sec f/4
Man walking in between Hutongs in Qianmen Beijing
GFX100S 45mm ISO-250 1/34sec f/7.1
Man with sunset behind him in Qianmen Hutong Beijing
GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/1600sec f/2.8
Cyclist riding out into the sun
GFX100S 45mm ISO-200 1/3200sec f/2.8

Please enjoy the images from this stroll through the Qianmen Hutongs and let me know what you think in the comments section below. Please also consider subscribing so that you’re notified of new content. 

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