On our first day in Beijing, we were the cause of a broken relationship. I will tell you the story as I show you some photos for Scenic Sunday.
We stayed in a guesthouse in a hutong in Beijing for 2 weeks. Hutongs consists of traditional Chinese courtyard residences. The above photo shows the courtyard of the guesthouse.
It was dark when we arrived at the hutong from the airport. But the streets were small and not well signposted. We had trouble finding the guesthouse. We enlisted the help of a passerby, a young Chinese lady who was on her way home after work. She spoke some English. She was a sweet lady in her mid-twenties. She seemed to pleased to be able to practise her English.
Although she lived in the hutong, we still took about an hour to find the guesthouse.
The furniture in the courtyard was traditional but not very ergonomic, nor comfortable...but it was a nice space and I spent many hours here drawing.
The next morning, I was having a quiet time sketching in the courtyard. To my surprise, the proprietor told me there was someone looking for me at the front door. I was surprised as I did not know anyone in Beijing, and I had not told anyone where I was staying.
An old bicycle in front of one of the rooms. The rooms were around the courtyard.
I went to check who my caller might be. It was the young lady from the night before. She looked distressed, and she had a Chinese man with her, , whom she introduced as her boyfriend. Then, she corrected herself. He was her ex-boyfriend.
I thought they were an odd couple. She was like a bird – gentle, sweet and slender. He was like a barrel – rotund and short. He was bespectacled and wore a glum expression. I guessed that he was probably about 5 years older than her.
Looking up – lots of kites and and a few lanterns decorate the ceiling
I had no idea why they had come, and what they wanted. It didn’t look like they were going to invite us to coffee…
She explained that her boyfriend was suspicious when he could not locate her the night before. She told him that she was with us, but he did not believe her. Following this incident, he became her ex-boyfriend.
A fishpond looks down onto the basement level
So Mr Ex-boyfriend wanted to meet us to verify her story. Which I thought was pointless, since they had already broken off their relationship. And what a trivial matter to sweat about… But I kept all of that to myself.
Now that we have seen inside the guesthouse, let us go outside and look around the hutong.
I tried my best to tell him that she was with us, with my very limited Mandarin. He did not say anything. She told me that he could understand English, so I repeated myself in English.
There were lots of bicycles and tricycles.
Still he did not respond. It was like water off a duck's back. I had explained in 2 languages as best as I could. I had no more to say.
These cupboards lined a part of the hutong. I guess they are owned by people of the hutong to store their personal belongings.
Mr ex-boyfriend decided to speak after a while. He spoke in Mandarin, and I had to turn to the lady for some translation. He said that he was led to believe she was helping 2 older travellers. He was surprised that we were not in our eighties.
A narrow passageway leading to more homes.
Huh? What? Eighty year olds? The lady said she did not say we were old, but he insisted that she did.
Interesting doorway – lots of character with broken bricks and tiles piled up…
I was getting tired, and I didn’t care who was telling the truth. It was not my problem, but theirs to sort out. Obviously, they were not suited for each other. He was a control freak. She deserved better.
These 3 wheeler bikes were a common sight in Beijing.
The ordeal had gone on for about 20 minutes. Then he decided to make his exit and spoke in perfect English. I was gobsmacked. Was he hoping we would expose some secrets, if we were convinced that he could not understand English?
A stall selling skewered food on sticks, which seemed to be quite popular.
He said he understood all we said, but he couldn’t understand why she lied to him. He stormed off, then turned around and ordered her to follow. She did so obediently.
We never saw them again. I hope she has found someone nicer to be with.
Where it happened… the entrance of the guesthouse