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作品名称 Wandering the Hutong
所属城市
作者姓名 Ron Northouse
作者单位 江苏省南通第一中学
作品简介

Having visited China seven times over the past fifteen years, I am beginning to accept China for what it is. The noisy congested streets, and sometimes sidewalks, filled with honking cars and beeping e-bikes. The crowds rushing past you in the transportation facilities, shopping malls and multistory all-in-one stores. And the people, if anything, China is all about the people everywhere you go. So I guess the hutong represents to me what China once was.
I first discovered the hutong in 2007 when my wife and I were looking for a convenient and quiet hotel near Beijing’s train station. We stumbled on a small place down a narrow alley, across two offset little streets and down another narrow street that dog legged to the left. It was quiet, not busy and seemed like an oasis from the hotels, restaurants and shops around the crowed train station.
As part of our sightseeing in and around Beijing, we walked back and forth down those small streets to the train station many times. The people who worked and lived there would smile and greet us as we passed by. My wife could even hear them saying to each other, I know them, they walk here many times.
After finding a more peaceful side of China, we decided to go to the tourist area defined hutong of Beijing. It was picturesque, but much more commercial than the streets leading to our hotel. It seemed to us to be more like the commercial small streets in the water towns, like Tongli and Zhouzhuang. These small streets are more tourist show places with restaurants and shops. They did not provide the same old world feeling we had just started to like.
It was a pleasant surprise during our first two weeks in Nantong to find such large hutong areas. We’ve been out walking the small streets a couple of times, when the weather has been cooler, and have found everything we were looking for. People living in what almost seems like a small village.
I know the old single story housing with streets too small for todays cars and inadequate plumbing will soon be a thing of the past in China. Everyone wants to live in modern new housing with all of the conveniences. But for now the hutong provides a snapshot to a quieter simpler life in China past.

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