Coming outside for the first time in the day is a great part of living the nomad life. You’ve just woken up and lo and behold you are in this chaotic, characterful and compulsive fast-paced place.
This Monday morning was a bit more chaotic and fast-paced than most.
Today the routine route to work by bicycle was anything but. Cycling out on to BeiXinQiao San Tiao- the truly non commercialised, local Hutong I reside upon, most famous for its lamb legs, had some noisy, disruptive visitors.
An assembly of workers were all flanking the street, spades in hand, ready for action. What action I was by no means sure. Big diggers were trundling up towards me. It may have just been a routine project had it not been for the large amount of security personnel. Some armed with riot shields and batons. Trouble was expected.
My bike weaved between the masses of people all congregating at 9am on a Monday. Behind my smog mask I was aghast with the mess and noise the diggers were causing, as they tore into a used to be salon at the bottom end of the street. Gathered crowds watched on.
Coming from a home back in England, which has been painstakingly worked on for the last 4 years. I found the whole operation initially quite refreshing albeit mental. This was a clear indication of things getting done with a quite a large force.
I had read something about second rate service based businesses in Beijing being moved out to provincial cities to make room for new-age technological industry. Perhaps it was that. It is also well known that the Hutongs have experienced a lot of redevelopment in the past so many years to make way for more space or for tourists. Perhaps people like me are to blame.
It was at work that I found out that the Government does do routine destruction jobs on properties which have been built on Government land. The property prices are so high in Beijing it is not surprising though. Luckily my house sits on the 5th floor of a building off the street, surely they can’t tear this down I thought!
Monday 6:30pm Update: Post work the hutong has changed pretty dramatically there was shards of grass on the floor, there was piles of rubble outside buildings. Workers smoking, smiling post work happy with their days demolition. A lot of the places were bricked up. I am not sure if this is paid-for-workmanship by some atrocious bricky or they are closing off a shop.
Tuesday 22:20pm Update
I had initially thought that the work was being done on just a collection of businesses. As I returned tonight it appeared that most if not all buildings have been severely affected. Any businesses that stray out into the road have been dramatically cut back. Grotesque brick jobs that would make my lime loving, cement hating Mother shake in her boots have been replaced.
I am actually quite furious. It’s quite extraordinary how ugly this job is. I am sure it has happened before but to see it done so quickly and emphatically is just mind-blowing.
I regularly go to the fruit and veg stores, seen above, and other convenience stores, and it broke my heart to see the owner shrug his shoulders and laugh at my shocked expression. ‘Xi JinPing’ he said.
The Party Secretary sneezes and the country shudders.