Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Hutong Hal, My Bucket Shitting Pal- “Civilized China?”

Posted by w_thames_the_d on August 12, 2011


My friend Hutong Hal is a white guy who is living in a hutong or one of the ancient Chinese alleyways. Or let me say that they are not really ancient for in reality these buildings for these areas are still relatively new , as in 20-30 years old as they have been redone.
The issue, however, is that the people who live there still live like the Flintstones or in subhuman conditions. Let me explain.
Hutongs are areas of Beijing that are a source of pride/shame so being Chinese they attempt to minimize the shame and highlight what they think we will like. But having a friend who lives there gives me the inside scoop.
These hutongs were part of the communal living structure in Beijing and everything was shared. They are a warren of buildings connected to other warrens of buildings and until before the Olympics they were the reality of living in Beijing for all the people.
Now, however, due to forced relocation, corruption and the feeling of shame, Beijing has razed most of them. They are now nothing more an eye sore for locals as well as a a tourist destination for many.
My friend Hal, the guy who does not have an indoor toilet as no house in the hutong does has two choices for a bathroom. he can either use the communal one which I have a photo of and will upload later, which is a series of 3 squat pots or holes in the ground and one human toilet with seat but no walls nor dividers between them.
What this means is that if he should have to defecate, he will have to squat knee-to-knee with his neighbors to do so. There are no walls and no privacy….
There is more to the charm of this life. His mornings are filled with the sounds of Beijingers hacking up phlegm and disgorging it to the cement, walking in underwear and pajamas and brushing their teeth in the streets.
Despite what you may think, the place has some charm, albeit seems like a barbaric way for human beings to live in 2011, let alone to think all Beijingers live this way up till about 12 years ago….dirty china

photo from flickriver.com

also posted here

One Response to “Hutong Hal, My Bucket Shitting Pal- “Civilized China?””

  1. gowron said

    I hate this place. :_(

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