Address: Smoke-bag Slanting Street. Xicheng District Bus: 60,5,107,124 and get off at Gulou South station
North to the Di An Men, right in front of the Bell Tower, lies one of the oldest slanting streets in Beijing, the Smoke-bag Slanting Street. This street sprawls in all directions and is around 300 meters in length. Over a century ago, pipe, or hookah (water pipe), smoking was a common habit for most banners, or Qi Ren, in the northern part of the city. Since cigarettes were then little known to most Chinese people, apart from the production of shredded tobacco, a booming tobacco business gave rise to a popular demand for fashionable long-stemmed pipes, or more commonly known in China as "smoke-bags". Residents of the street were obviously quick at spotting the business opportunity and opened smoke-bag stores one after another, making the name "Smoke-bag Slanting Street" increasingly famous.
An interesting coincidence worth mentioning is that the shape of the slanting street itself resembles a smoke-bag! With the 300-meter street taken as the stem of the pipe, the east end is shaped like the pipe bowl while the west end, leading to the Yinding Bridge in the south, resembles the mouthpiece. In addition to smoke-bag stores, many antique and jade shops appeared one after another, supplemented by restaurants, clothing shops, public bathhouses and barber shops, etc. The street, albeit short, was blessed with a booming business. This, combined with its plain yet elegant architectural style and distinctive Beijing flavor streetscapes, made the place a center of affection in the hearts of elderly Beijingers.
Yinding Bridge (Silver Ingot Bridge)
The Yinding Bridge spans across the waterway between Qianhai and Houhai of Shichahai (Ten Temple Sea), Xicheng District. Facing to the south, the arch stone bridge bears resemblance, in its shape, to an ancient Chinese silver ingot, hence the name Yinding Bridge (yinding is the Chinese word for "silver ingot"). As a recommended spot at Shichahai, it is one of the so called "Yan Jing Xiao Ba Jing", translated into English roughly as "eight junior scenes of the Yanjing area". In the past, one could enjoy the beauty of the West Mountain while standing on the bridge, so the theme of the scene was formerly known as "mountain viewing from the silver ingot". The original bridge was demolished for reconstruction in 1984 with the old name re-adopted.
Shichahai Scenic Area of History and Culture
Shichahai is a scenic area of history and culture in Beijing and one of its historical and cultural protection zones. It lies in Xicheng District, the center of the city, and is close to its central axis. With a 336,000-square-meter water-covered area connected with Zhongnanhai, it is the only open scenic area with a wide expanse of water in the city.
Address: opposite the north gate of Beihai Park, Di'anmen West Street, Xicheng District, Beijing
To say it strictly, Houhai consists the coast of Houhai and the smoke-bag slanting street behind.There are many kinds of bars, characteristic restaurants, drugstores, chophouses, vegetable and fruit sellers who have no license. Having no brands is characters of the bars here, although you can make out whether the bar is suit for you or not through the light from the door.Beginning from the Yuan Dynasty, there is a block of lake out of the northen door which is integrated but somewhere is break. There reserves manyaristocratic big houses and courtyards, the civilians live in the four houses combined yard around.
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