The shops at 琉璃廠 were mostly closed already, even though it was only about 7 pm. At the end of the street there was a small but bustling market, so I kept walking, in the direction of 前門.
I made a turn and suddenly the hutong was almost deserted. Three young women were walking ahead, their laughter washing back to me, a man was riding the bicycle, I knew I was very close to 前門, and a woman near the market had confirmed to me the hutong leads to 前門, so I kept going.
Another turn, and I came face to face with the bright lights of 前門. The distance was just a few hundred meters, and the time difference was about 10 minutes, but I seemed to have passed through three different worlds. The hutongs is an amazing world indeed.