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Red Lanterns

Some of the coolest places in Beijing are found on the side streets in the grotty corners and down the back alleys.

This ruddy little pub is off Beihai Park (near the Dagoba Temple—not the Dagobah with an “H” where Yoda lived).

It’s cached away on one of the narrow, winding lanes that sprout out everywhere off the broad Beijing boulevard grid. Yes, for those who have been there or heard tell, these are the lanes that tunnel out into the famous hutongs (hutongs are traditional Chinese bungalows in the dense old residential neighborhoods, which you should have learned if you were ever sand-blasted with Beijing trivia during the China Olympics).

So there we were, in the hutongs, on one of our usual Beijing walkabout side trips, unable to find a cab because we dawdled too long at a tourist hot spot. This was the all-too-common type of side trip that’s necessitated by my wife’s tiny bladder and her frequent urges to feed in quaint noodle houses. We found a pay-bathroom. She peed. I took pictures (of the pub, not my wife). EV watched. Then we ate noodles.

As a side-note, and because it’s always great to talk about urination in a blog: culturally speaking, it’s a lot easier for my daughter and I to take a leak in China because kids (edit: she was 5) can piss almost anywhere they want, and a grown man can easily get away with leaking on a wall at the back of a parking lot… doing so without too many untoward glances. Ladies, the world is_not_fair.

But you already knew that.

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