Around the centuries-old Drum and Bell towers, rickshaw drivers ferry tourists past hidden courtyard homes, fruit shops, kebab stands and trendy cafes and bars. Old folks in red ?security volunteer? armbands monitor the goings on. A group of men take lunch over stiff glasses of baijiu (white liquor), while a woman hauling a squeaky cart calls out for recycling.
This narrow warren of hutong alleyways called Gulou, a charming 12.94 hectares in the middle of the Chinese capital, is one of Beijing?s most endearing neighborhoods, offering a glimpse into the city?s fading past.