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A typical Beijing scene

Streets of Beijing, China

One of the most distinctive aspects of Beijing is the traditional housing. 
Single story courtyard homes are gathered in neighborhoods known as Hutongs.

In a city as populous as Beijing, these courtyard homes are terribly inefficient, so they they are disappearing under the plow of progress at an alarming rate.
At this point, however, there are still many Hutongs.

They are pleasant areas to wander around, because the lanes are too skinny for automobiles. It's an easy escape from the noise and the crush of the main streets.

You'll see these ornate gray buildings with bright red doors and obligatory bicycles.

You'll see people cooking  with woks over charcoal fires.
You'll see street vendors peddling along, selling their wares.
You'll see families gathering and gossiping, and children playing. 
You'll see the coal delivery men.
You'll see weathered old men in their Mao-style suits shuffling along.

And you'll see the numerous public bathrooms. 
Few homes have their own plumbing, so each neighborhood has a restroom.
The toilets are, of course, Eastern-style "squat" toilets. Interestingly, few stalls have doors.
More surprising, many stalls are, umm, not even stalls. Meaning that there is no partition at all.
Unlike in Japan, the user in China does not face the wall. He or she faces the restroom door. 
This arrangement didn't bother me at all.

Because I waited until I returned to the hotel...

"Nihao, Avon Calling"


One particularly striking street is Liulichang, which is about 400 years old.

It's exactly the kind of street where you expect to see Jackie Chan or Jet Li defeat a gang of sword-carrying hoods and save the honor of an innocent beauty.

And exactly the kind of street where you expect to see tourist goods, passed off as antiques at ten or more times their real value.

In the second case, you'd be right.

And then there are the street merchants. 

There are men selling food. There are men selling newspapers and other such articles. And then there are the men and women who offer haircuts and massages. A few came running after me, with their folding chairs.

Though my hair was getting too long, I had to refuse.
Call me wimpy, but I never let a man in a butcher's outfit cut my hair. 
I don't know why. 
It just seems like a good general rule.

Angie, on the other hand, collects massages.
So, we sat, between the street and the lake, while this man gave her a head, neck, and leg (yes, leg) massage.

In his butchers' jacket.
On the streets of Beijing.

Street Side Massage, Incorporated