Dec 28, 2006
My favorite place on the whole trip to Asia had to be the hutongs of Beijing. They are the ancient little alleyways. Yun and I took a one hour tour through one of the hutongs. We saw where Mao had lived for a year as a teenager. Behind the walls are little courtyards. Sometimes many poor families live there. Others belong to people of some means. We got to go into one and have some tea. There were birdcages with little yellow finches in them. Miniature cages with locusts inside. Best of all was when we'd pass a little noodle shop and all the people were sitting around eating at funky tables all over the street. Shoemakers, craftsmen and haircutting joints. One night I went into one of the alleyways to draw. Everyone, and I mean everyone came over to watch what I was doing. They were poor and didn't have much but they always offered me cigarettes or a soda. They watched me draw intently, pointing out what I should draw next in the scene. Little kids clutching my sleeve the whole time. At the end I showed them all the drawings I had in the three books I was carrying. I left that alleyway with my heart aching for how much I dug my new found friends.