Beijing Images 16 images Created 18 Dec 2008
It's a quiet afternoon in Beijing, as it has been for every afternoon for nearly a thousand years. Rickshaws whisk by, tinkling their bells as grannies sweep with twig brooms in front of their giant red doors. You glimpse into a courtyard filled with wisteria, while neighbors clack mahjong pieces on a board under a tree. While the rest of the city rushes headlong into the 21st century In the Shichahai Lake District, one of Beijing's few leafy areas, residents here still take their mid-day naps and chat with the neighbors. As noted by Marco Polo, nearly all of Beijing was once a huge maze of narrow alleyways called hutong connecting family courtyards where parents live on one end, elder sons on the sides and children behind the courtyard. One of these courtyards may house two or three generations of a family. Today only a few of these neighborhoods still thrive. Most notably, Shichahai Lakes District is made up of three lakes: Houhai, QianHai and XiHai but most people call them Houhai after the biggest one since all three lakes connect.