Mixed-Style: Last Hutong In Beijing

Posted by Stephen Luo on 17. Feb 2012

A mix of west and east, fashion and tradition, present and past, it is South Luogu Lane, a Hutong in Beijing.

Meanwhile, millions of visitors are longing for homes for their hearts: a home for reminiscence, curiosity or romance.

South Luogu Lane offers everything.

Last time I went with a 16-year-old boy, whom I tutored for two years. He is a artless boy who is crazy about prose and novels that describe appealing scenes or affecting plots in over-adorned words and elegant rhythm. Thus he loves anything visually beautiful.

"How stupid I was when I always hanged out at shopping malls. How common they are," he screamed on arrival.

It was 6 p.m. and the dark blanket of sky covered the old city, and the old Hutong. On both sides of the lane, old, small but well-redecorated bungalows were quietly sitting there, each of which had been turned into boutiques, selling old-fashioned clothes, postcard with photo of Beijing in 1990s or small ornaments like glasses or clocks.

People with cameras hanging on the neck or shoulders, stepping in and out of boutiques. From their dialogue, I knew they are native Beijingers and some of them must have been here for several times. However, they still dropped in, in a tourist mind -- to find something new. We lingered at a store selling DIY albums and one selling notebooks with covers in traditional Beijing pattern or Hutong names. As he knew little about the history of Beijing Hutong, he found the names interesting. As the DIY albums' covers were make-up photos with over-adorned words, so he showed me some his favorable sentences. Although I think those words are meaningless moan, but I bet those who agree with me won't come to this house but the bar across the lane.

I used to come with my girlfriends, a gourmet willing to taste all kinds of desserts. The most famous dessert houses in South Luogu Lane is WenYu Dairy, which sells yogurt, milk custard and plum syrup. The house opens at noon and only prepare several hundred desserts. When all are sold out, the house closes. Last time we came a little late after 3 p.m., we had to imagine the deliciousness facing the closed door. However we came across a Hong Kong style dessert house and tried mango sweetened sago cream, which satisfied my girlfriend but killed me with its sweet.

Drinkers and sports fans will take their seats in bars, foreign visitors may find the pizza stuffed with Chinese cuisine, and the elders may discover the old style uniforms with Chairman Mao's slogans.

For locals like me, the old bungalows, the dim lamps hanging on the branches, the bumpy stone path and the aging tall trees leaning on the low roofs, I felt going back to my childhood, and that's the reason why locals always bring their cameras here -- to "record" the childhood-like life.


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