Thursday, September 21, 2006


Back in the good old days of the Ming and Qing dynasty this was a boom town establishing China's first bank. After the dynasty collapsed Pingyao remained pretty much unchanged and still has the old city wall round the centre. In 1997 Pingyao was listed as a Unesco World Hertiage Site.

I bought the ticket which allows you in to see most of the sights. The trick is finding them, as they are all listed in Chinese and you don;t get a map. Many old banks and their courtyards. Some job descriptions on the walls such as eyeing the colour of the silver. Stopping off at the main museum to have a look around. The exhbits range from a prison complete with brick bed and wooden pillow, to torture equipment and stocks. A strange wooden horse with a bed nails on its back confirms my intention to stay on the good side of the Chinese.

For some reasons lots of fire fighting equipement everywhere from buckets and spades to small bags of sands, they used to make sure a well had heated water in the winter in case of fire, no use trying to dip a bucket into a frozen well. Still most of the buildings are brick. Rather wet the next day and it just rained all day. I headed out for a quick look about and decided to pop back at 15.30 for a play. After getting soaked I found out the play wasn't on as it was supposed to be outdoors. Bit of a non-event.

I tried the Pingyao beef which is famous throughout China as being yummy and it is!
Very tender served up with potato a filling meal but excellent. So good I had the same next day as well. Set off the next morning on a bike to a temple a short distance outside town with a Canadian guy. Ended up pedalling through mud due to the amount of rain yesterday some of Pingyao was flooded, and where it wasn't muddy it was dusty. Not allowed any photos in the halls of the temple, which was a shame as the Canadian had brought a backpack full of photgraphic equipment. Inside was some strange carvings, reminded me of a backdrop for a play, with the mutiple levels of the carvings.

In the afternoon I headed up onto the city walls and took the 6km walk round the perimeter. Take some photos of rooftops and I even snapped a picture of the Ready-Brek pigeon. Pingyao is a bit more shambolic than most of the cities in China, more rubble and bricks holding down the roofs.

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