A September 2006 trip
to Beijing by Seaotter71
Quote: Surprisingly enough, I spent some time wandering Beijing by myself. This is what I found.
My cabbie was only able to get me "close." After an hour of wandering and waving the guidebook around, I was no closer to a kite. I drawing a small but useless crowd when an enterprising rickshaw driver whipped out a cell phone, got directions, and offered to take me there for 40 Yuan. Best $5 I spent all day.Up to now I had avoided rickshaws. I had seen dozens of them in a row, taking tourists on hutong tours. But this was kind of nice. His furious pedaling resulted in a refreshing breeze and the zipping in and out of alleyways resembled an movie chase scene. Suddenly he stopped, motioned me to follow and we went over some rubble, through a tiny alleyway and back out to a main street. The same street cabbies had dropped us off twice before for dinner. Sigh.I stepped into the small store, the walls and ceiling covered in kites. Goldfish, frogs, dragonflies, turtles, owls, eagles, sparrows, centipedes, and dragons of all colors and sizes vied for my attention. It all started when Liu Huiren took up kite making after retiring. He then passed his considerable skills to his son and grandchildren, who now run the store. Mr. Liu’s granddaughter was minding the store that day. As I took in these aerial wonders, she explained to me how she and her sister draw and paint the kites by hand. He brother then builds the structure out of bamboo and twine. The goldfish I was admiring has no less than 75 joints (none of them affixed with glue). From start to finish it can take a week to make a single goldfish. Even the most simple of kites won’t take less than three days to make. Mr. Liu’s granddaughter shared with me a scrapbook with photos of the family making the kites, noteworthy kites, and an article showing her grandfather setting a record flying the longest kite. But most amazing of all was a kite Mr. Liu had made. It was a delicate and beautiful depiction of a Chinese deity. It beauty marred by a little tear in the wing - a reminder that while works of art, these kites are meant for the skies.Predictably, I was unable to choose just one and bought a small dragon kite and a small red and gold goldfish. Each cost about $20, an amazing price considering all the hard work. To see the Liu kites you can visit www.cnkites.com.While I was unable to fly my kites at Tiananmen Square, the preferred place for kite flying in Beijing, my dragon kite took to the skies on an LA beach and thrived in the strong winds.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 4, 2006
Three Stones Kite Store
25A Di’anmen Xidajie Xicheng