Beijing doesn’t welcome you

By Xie Wenting Source:Global Times Published: 2012-12-24 9:56:53


Ren’s courtyard at Shejia Hutong, Xicheng district, Sunday. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Ren’s courtyard at Shejia Hutong, Xicheng district, Sunday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Annoyed homeowners have slammed the door on tourists seeking to visit their beautiful courtyard houses for a glimpse at life in Old Beijing, complaining that under a local government scheme they received hundreds of visitors at all hours, but never received a penny or any logistical support for their troubles.

The Dashilan management committee held a contest in July for the old homes in the historic area, which lies west of the Qianman shopping street near Tiananmen Square.

The courtyard house of Ren Xueshi, 74, living with his wife Zhang Shuling, 67, was one of five winners.

Before entering the contest, Ren had occasionally opened his doors to show off his home to foreign visitors sent by the local management committee.

"So when the committee told me to open my gate for tourists [after I won the contest], I simply replied yes without any thinking," he said.

The house was opened to visitors on Friday from 2 pm to 4 pm starting in September. But people ignored the visiting hours.

"More than 20 people came into my courtyard that morning. Out of courtesy, I answered all the questions they asked," said Ren, noting his voice became hoarse by the end of the day.

Ren didn't charge any money to the hundreds of visitors who came through his doors at all times of the week, and has received no compensation for his trouble except some free subscriptions.

"I have received yearly newspaper subscriptions including the Beijing Times and the People's Daily for the competition, but I don't know whether other people have this too," said Ren.

Ren was born in this courtyard house. He said that he has strong affection towards it and he understood that many people wanted to visit it.

"I'm willing to welcome visitors. But too many visitors are coming and it's hard to tell what kind of people they are," said Ren, stressing that some are good-mannered but some look suspicious.

Once a man stayed in the courtyard for over an hour to take photos. "He even stepped into our house, which is not allowed for the visitors," said Ren.

The local management committee promised to install a camera in their courtyard, but never did, he said.

Another Dashilan resident that has closed his doors to visitors is Lin Peicheng, whose house was listed as a tourism site by the local management committee even though he did not enter the competition.

A sign on his door says his house is closed to tourists. He mentioned many of the same complaints as Ren, but added he may reopen it next spring.

Sang Pengfei, deputy secretary of the Dashilan management committee, refused to comment Sunday.

Four hotels, one restaurant and eight courtyards used by the government and local organizations are still open for tourists.

Posted in: Society, Metro Beijing

blog comments powered by Disqus