On April 17 we took an extra tour to the Hutong in Beijing, one of the highlights of my time in that city. Tom and I agreed that we would have enjoyed spending a lot more time in this old section of the city with its small bars and restaurants, its fishermen, old homes and picturesque water front views. Surrounding a man-made lake, Chinese aristocrats used to live here.
We reached the area by rickshaw and I had a “conversation” with the rickshaw man in my limited Chinese. I said, hello, and he responded, startled that I used Chinese. Then I made some more conversation about how nice the day was. Then I said in Chinese, “I am not Chinese.” And he responded, “I am not American,” slapped his knee and laughed as I laughed along with him, a delightful and unexpected exchange.
The group proceeded to a house where we would have a prearranged visit with the owner. I spotted an interesting looking man further down the alley and snagged some pictures. The man turned out to be the artist who lived in the house. He and his wife answered questions about how they had kept the property during the period of the Red Guard and then he sold a bunch of paintings to the group. I refrained.
In the evening flew to Yichang for cruise down Yangtze River the next day.