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Beijing's Hutongs -- by Parin Desai
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By Parin Desai

As an Olympics Volunteer, I have the amazing opportunity to come to Beijing, China for the first time and see how this city adapts to being on the world stage. A rising college senior, I never imagined I'd be able to travel to China, let alone work for the Olympics. The 2008 Olympic Games has allowed Beijing to grow and modernize. The entire city is changing very rapidly and many of the authentic places are slowly being demolished and changed to more modern apartments or offices.

Despite all the amazing growth and change, I found one of my favorite places in Beijing is the Hutong.

The Hutong is a step back in time. It's a place where history comes alive and you can forget the hustle and bustle of the city. As my friends decided to get massages, I wandered around on my own exploring the small shops and admiring the souvenirs available. I've been to the Silk Market and the Pearl Market and still I found some of the most unique souvenirs that weren't available anywhere else, including a glass jar filled with snakes.

The Hutong was also where I found my first Indian Restaurant in China. Because my ethnicity is Indian, I was excited to find a place where I can get food that is most familiar to me.

Right next to the Hutong is the area called Hou Hai. This area was very lively and beautiful, a definite tourist destination. Weeping willows line the river and shops and restaurants surround the area. It's especially beautiful at night. A lot of visitors rent paddle boats and I hope to go back soon and do the same.

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