Hutong has always been a must-see tourist attraction in one’s Beijing Xian tour. Many of Beijing’s hutongs had been the dwelling place for the eunuches of the past dynasties, such as Silijian (office of ceremonies) hutong, Zhonggusi (office of bell and drum) hutong, Ciqiku (chinaware storehouses) hutong, Zhiranju (bureau of darning and dying) hutong, Jiucuju (bureau of wine and vinegar) hutong, Laku (wax storehouse) hutong and Gongjian (derived from gongjian, the eunuch of imperial palace) hutong, etc. Li Lianying, the general eunuch in the Qing Dynasty, was the outstanding one who occupied many residences and houses that was widespread in a larger part of the city. He had over three millions taels of silver dollars deposited in the city’s banking houses, but his monthly salary was no more than 60 taels. He received many bribes. Yuan Shih-Kai once presented him 200,000 taels of silver dollars for promotion and many other officials did the same thing to get promotion. Li’s firms and lands were widely distributed in Beijing and his hometown Hejian (as many of his countrymen came to Beijing to find jobs or become eunuches in the imperial palace).
Li Lianying was born in 1848, the 28th year in Daoguang’s reign, in the Lijia Village, Cantun Township, Dacheng County in Hebei Province. His original name was Li Yingtai. His father Li Yu was a show repairer. Li Yingtai also took the same walk of life. As the key process in preparing leather is kneading the skin with saltpeter, so Li Lianying was nicknamed as “Saltpeter Li” later. In 1850, the first year of Xianfei’s reign, his family migrated in Beijing and resided in the Dayou Village in Haidian District. Four years later, due to poverty, the seven-year-old Li Yingtai was castrated and sold to a prince’s mansion to become a servant. In the seventh year od Xianfeng’s reign, the 13-year-old Li Yingtai was sent to the imperial palace and his name was changed into Li Lian(连)ying, which was recorded in the Forbidden City’s roster. While the name Li Lian(莲)ying was forged by the folk people.
Just like Hutong, the Terra-cotta Warriors tour in Xian is quite popular among tourists from both at home and abroad.