Colors of the Hutong

Today was our first full day with students!  In the morning, I joined the beginner Mandarin class.  In just a few hours, our little group was able to have CONVERSATIONS in Mandarin Chinese.  They were simple sentences, talking about our names and ages, or what we like to eat, but we were speaking and understanding each other. It was very exciting.

In the afternoon, we visited the Hutong, which is a traditional neighborhood of small alleyways.  Today, there are lots of modern shops, even though the overall feel of the area is still very “Old Beijing.”  One highlight was visiting the Lama Temple, which houses the largest wooden Buddha in the world. In this photo, you can only see his feet!

You can see the people bowing down to him, but you can’t hear the monk in the corner who was chanting, or smell the incense burning all around.  You can’t jump into the photograph and look up several stories at the giant wooden sculpture, made out of a single sandalwood tree. If you could do these things, you’d be even more impressed. Perhaps it’s best that you are reading this instead, because you get to avoid the outrageous heat that we experienced as we walked around.  It was very hot!  As we walked around, the students learned about Buddhism, from the eight auspicious symbols to the fruit offerings presented at their feet.  I really enjoyed sharing my love of Buddhism with the students.  In this photo below, a student is spinning her first prayer wheel.

After our visit to the temple and a lot of walking, we needed a break.  Students were jet lagged and we were exhausted. We stopped to get some juice at a nice cafe.  Mine was “honey melon” which I think might be a cantaloupe-related melon, but not exactly the same. Silvia, who is in the photo with me, got papaya juice. My role this summer is international director, and Silvia is the local director.  She is Italian, but she’s lived in China for about 6 years.   She knows the area very well and did a wonderful job showing us around the Hutong.

It might seem like Beijing is full of ancient sites. It’s true that there are many historical places to visit, but there are also many modern things to see.  Here are some of my other favorite photographs from today’s visit to the Hutong:



For now, I need to say “Zai Jian” (goodbye). Sorry that I could not take this adorable dog home, but I will continue to try to capture a bit of Beijing to send home to you through photographs.

Categories: China

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8 replies »

  1. The dog is so cute! Why do they paint his fur? I think it’s cool that there is even a McDonalds in Beijing!

  2. Hello Ms. Krakauer!!

    This adventure looks like fun!!
    Are you planning on learning more Mandarin tomorrow?
    What I found most interesting was the giant wooden Buddha. Do you think it made the World Record books?
    I understand that it’s hot in Beijing, it was hot when I went there for the summer too.
    What are the eight auspicious symbols? I think we learned a couple of the symbols on our Field Trip.
    I saw the picture of the student spinning her first prayer wheel! Can prayer wheels be even bigger than that?
    Was the last picture of a restaurant the cafe you went to for a drink? I thought the picture of the McDonald guy was funny! I also thought the street performers and the pig and masked animals were really cool!
    The photo of the dog was so cool!!!!!!!
    😦 Was the dog just on the street alone? That would be very sad. 😥
    But what were those colorful spots on the dog? I’ve never seen those on a dog in Beijing, nor in America.

    Have fun on your adventures!!!!
    😉 ~ Anna

    P.S. Nice touch with the “Zai Jian” at the end, I like it. 🙂

  3. it’s interesting that the statue was there. Isn’t china striving to be a non religious country? Or have they decided against that now? I thought the dog was cute. Also banana cakes and sweet potatoes! Seems like there is a lot of interesting food in china! 🙂 Well Have fun on your trip!

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