Beijing Uncut


Curious about Beijing, the host of the 2008 Olympics? Our real-life video shows what it's like to stroll down the city's streets.

Photographer Tony Law first traveled to Beijing in 2002 as a Fulbright scholar and has lived there on and off for about four years. When we asked him to shoot footage of everyday life in the Chinese capital, Tony set out for Houhai, about a 20-minute walk from the back gate of the Forbidden City.

Tony captured a mix of shoppers, tourists, and helmet-less cyclists vying for space along Houhai's old-fashioned Yandaixie Street. It's a rare Beijing neighborhood without construction cranes looming overhead.

"A lot of locals live there," Tony says. "It's one of the few places where you can get a sense of how Beijing people used to live before they moved into the tall apartment buildings."

Shops selling antiques, traditional Chinese clothing, and souvenirs line Yandaixie, which winds its way toward the lake shown at the end of the video clip. Paddleboats are available for rent, and there is a cluster of lively restaurants and street food stands.

"The most popular street food is lamb skewers, usually cooked by people from Xingjiang, a largely Muslim province in western China," says Tony, who admits to the occasional late-night snack after hanging out at hip No Name Bar nearby.

Familiar with the local scene, Tony chose to film around sunset on July 31, 2007. "I like shooting during that time of day when the sky still has light, but the streetlights are on," he says. "The evening is really when Houhai comes alive."

About the Contributor
Get the latest on Tony Law and his photography projects by visiting his website,

Related Content