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A tour of the Tobacco Pipe Lane


In Beijing’s Shichahai there is a narrow skewed street named Yan Dai Xie Jie, literally translated as Tobacco Pipe Lane or Skewed Tobacco Pouch Street. Whatever its name, it is a street where varied boutique shops with different charming features stand to welcome guests coming here.

A tour of this narrow street doesn’t need so much time. Actually you only need a few minutes to walk the whole street and see every shop on either of its sides, but what this narrow street features is its appearance, its unique flavor. The shops along the street either look cute or traditional and they are all housed in traditional Beijing style houses. Most tourists coming here just hope to have an experience of the unique flavor or eat something delicious which cannot be easily found anywhere else in Beijing. I suppose the shop selling lamb skewers is one of them.

My friend and I visited this shop on Dec. 10, when many tourists had already swarmed into the alley, and what I saw was that many eaters were like hungry predators gathering in front of the shop window, waiting for their lamb skewers. My passion for eating lamb was not that strong, for I advocate Buddhism and don’t support killing animals and eating their meat. But my friend said he paid the bill for me and I shouldn’t let him down and accepted his offer. Eating the lamb skewers just spent 2 minutes or so, and I didn’t think that lamb very good. But others seemed to be so pleased with their the lamb meat, including my friend. This shop is located at the west end of the street near the Silver Ingot Bridge.

What caught my eye next was the shop named Chinese Imperial Post Since 1896. In front of it is a copper mailbox which now only serves as a decoration and a copper statue of a little boy stands beside it, ready to put his letter into the mailbox. The boy looks cute and his facial expression is vivid. Look at him!

Another place to take notice of is nothing but the Guangfu Temple, built in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The traditional architectures inside the temple are still under preservation and so the temple is currently not open to tourists. This temple is located in the middle of the street, and now you can only take a photo of its aged gate.

We entered the street from the west end and we toured it for about 20 minutes. After taking many valuable photos with my phone and his camera, we were satisfied walking out of it. Wait! The east entrance still needs a few more words.

This east entrance looks traditional, for the gate is painted with blue, golden and other attractive colors. Supported by two red pillars on both sides, the traditional gate has an exquisite eave, under which a black board hangs with four large golden Chinese calligraphic characters written on it. It is the name of the street: Tobacco Pipe Lane.


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