By Angela Li, Foster Undergraduate who participated in an exchange with Peking University (PKU) in Beijing, China
I love well-crafted, carefully designed, and thoughtfully curated shops, restaurants, museums, cafes, neighborhoods, you name it. Pretty much the epitome of Pinterest perfect, Instagram goals, and Tumblr heaven, places. If you share this interest, or purely have an interest in seeing what hipster-Chinese neighborhoods look like, boy do I have recommendations for you. Quite frankly, sometimes, it didn’t even feel like I was in China, and yet, the careful mixture of traditional with contemporary does not go unnoticed.
For starters, when in Beijing you’ll hear a lot of talk about 798, the popular Beijing art district. It’s a bit far, but totally worth the trip, and definitely something you could block out a whole day for. The area carries a unique architectural style heavily influenced by Germans, and is home to a number of incredible galleries, design firms/galleries, cafes, and film houses.
Beijing is also home to a number of hutongs (胡同) which are alleys that contain traditional courtyard residences and neighborhoods where locals reside. With the rapid development of Beijing, many hutongs have since been demolished, however, there are a number that still remain. Nowadays, many locals continue to reside in these hutong residencies. However, it is also quite common to find traditional homes transformed into tiny shops, cafes,
restaurants, and sometimes even bars. Beijing is now filled with many hutongs that contain both a traditional and contemporary dynamic, a great experience to witness the development of Beijing. A great place to explore hutongs is in Andingmen (安定门).