To get to our new house, walk past the bakery with long lines on the sidewalk and a sweet sticky smell, like sugar and sesame. If you get to the Muslim butchershop, with cow halves hanging from ceiling hooks, you’ve gone too far. Go past the keymakers, you’ll know it by the shiny key blanks on wires in the window and past the streetside tables where the shirtless old men play boardgames and laugh in their throats. Pass the street barbeque stand, and the dumpling shop with steam pouring out of the door, pass the doorway with tiny caged songbirds. Look out for abandoned balls and tricycles on the ground, especially after dark. Anyone taller than me should watch out for our neighbors’ overhanging roof, as well!
If you go the opposite way, and turn onto progressively wider streets instead, you end up by Qianhai lake, and the surrounding bars and coffeeshops, which puts not only brewed coffee, but coffeedrink concoctions involving hazelnut syrup or steamed milk into our daily lives.