The Bird Man of Beijing, Zhonglouwan Hutong

As I was sitting in a small park in the Zhonglouwan Hutong waiting for new friend April to shop I watched an old gentleman approach with sticks each with a bird attached. He put the sticks together and soon there was a tree like stand filled with birds on leashes. Not cool I first thought but I watched him water and hand feed the birds for a bit and soon release them from their ties. On by one the birds flew to him as he stood a good twenty feet away, then back to the stand. After a bit a small crowd gathered and it was show time. The guy would get a bird in his hand and a bright red bead, he then would throw the bead and very soon after the bird. With unbelievable speed the bird would grab the bead high in the air and return it to the man. Then the bird would fly back to his perch and another would fly to the man to do the trick again. It was fascinating to watch and April’s shopping time forgotten, I was back in time and watching Hutong history repeating itself

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Kent St. John

Tales of travels with a travel editor: the ins and outs of life on the road. He passed away in 2012

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