the best alley in beijing
3 weeks after arriving in China I went looking for some bar where there was supposed to be a meeting called BINGOs -Beijing International NGOs. Arriving 30 minutes late after really struggling to find the place, I was told it was not on that night. I eventually went to another BINGO meeting a few months later, and never again after that (i believe it stopped meeting) -but i did go back to the bar again: Pass-by-bar has been legendary for ages it seems... stuck in a very old and decrepid hutong (traditional beijing alley) and actually in 3/4 of a Si He Yuan (4 sided courtyard building, which is a very traditional beijing house from a long time ago -many of which were knocked down but are now being preserved/restored).
The toilets are outside; since no houses in the area have any toilets: they share communcal ones, though they have been done up to be rather posh in the last 3 years. Since that day I used to often return to the bar, since it is actually more like a cafe/bookshop, where one relaxes read books, eats good food and has a cheapish drink in a wonderfully comfortable, relaxing environment. Well since then most of Beijing is now covered in bar/cafe/lounges -most are nice, but Pass by bar alwyas stood out.
Especially compared to the lake 1 km away, that is pretty at night and day, winter and summer..but with tens of similar places, just more 'barsy' and more 'tacky' (though 1 or 2 nice places). Thus Pass-by-bar, hidden in an alley was a great retreat -plus there was a cheap muslim style restaurant nearby too!
8 months ago, a few more tasteful places had cropped up on the street.. now the road is redone, there are loads more tasteful places; a few boutique shops and more people. but the alley (xiang) keeps its style with old buildings tastefully decorated as a wonderful place to go and mix with others eating, reading, sipping and 'surfing'. Plus its possible to pop off and check out the untouched 'hutongs'.
Long live (in its current state) South 'something' Old Alley!
Please make sure future developments keep its wonderful atmosphere, and in the summer the alley is not crowded with taxis, drunk people, loud music, neon etc!
p.s. blood diamond is a film everyone must watch. Although it is a gruesome and moving film that is simply horrible to believe, it is all based on truth. Sad how human beings can use other human beings so mercilessly