Friday, July 19, 2019

北京四合院 - Chinese Courtyard House

I came with a big team of staff and students to organise the Beijing session of a youth conference.  As soon as we got off the plane, our Beijing partner took us to a restaurant in a traditional Beijing courtyard house - the famous Siheyuan (四合院).

From the outside, it is not easy to imagine what is behind the wall - unless you are familiar with the concept of a 四合院.  

The entrance is set near the right hand corner of the house.  Immediately on the right, upon entering, is the kitchen.  

We turned left, through a circular entrance, into a long, narrow courtyard.  On the left hand side of the narrow courtyard is a row of houses with their back to the wall.  

On the right hand side of the narrow courtyard is the main entrance to the courtyard.  

We turned right to walk through the main entrance, and found ourselves in a spacious central courtyard.  

Across from the courtyard, on the far side, is the two-storey, main house - usually occupied by the owner of the house.  On both sides of the courtyard are rows of houses - usually occupied by the children of the owner and their families.  The courtyard is the focal point of the courtyard house.  

When we reached the two-storey main house and turned around, we can see what the owner sees from his house.  This is a private world protected from the outside. 

I wonder how much does one has to pay to acquire such a house now. 

This is actually a famous restaurant.  One of the dishes we had this evening is puffer fish.  

There are two ways to remove the poison from a puffer fish.  One is to remove the guts carefully.  The other is to carefully control the diet of the puffer fish, to avoid certain types of shellfish.  I believe this restaurant use the diet method.  

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