Pingyao #1: Where are all the people?

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Asia » China » Shanxi » Pingyao
November 25th 2019
Published: December 12th 2019
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The high speed train from Beijing West Station deposited me Pingyao Gucheng Station in the afternoon. The train ride had been fairly comfortable. Upon exiting the station, I walked out to, pretty much, nothing. I was quite surprised as Pingyao is a popular tourist destination and I thought there would be more life. I found the bus stop, right in front of the station, and waited for the 108 bus. There weren't many people waiting for the bus and the taxi touts kept approaching me and offering rides to the Old Town for 30 RMB, which is pretty cheap, but the bus is only 1 RMB. I had to wait about ten minutes in the cold and about another ten minutes on the bus before we headed off to Pingyao proper. The drive wad uneventful and generic China passed me by. The bus dropped me close to the Ancient City and a five minute walk had me through the old city walls. My guesthouse was a short walk up the main street. I almost walked past it as there was no English sign. I went in and got checked in. The owner gave me a map and pointed out all the main sights on it. I walked through to the inner courtyard, it was super cute and I kind if wished that I was visiting in warmer weather so that I could sit outside. My room was super cute. The room itself was pretty small, but the bed was huge. I starfished on that for a bit and cranked the heat. After a bit if a rest, I was getting hungry so headed back to the guesthouse's restaurant for an early dinner. I had read online about some of the special dishes of Pingyao and when I looked at the menu, I found a different dish that I wanted to try. I ordered some Shanxi Paste Oil Meat and Eggplant with a side of rice. I didn't have to wait too long for my food. I really enjoyed both dishes. You can never go wrong with eggplant and each region seems to cook it slightly differently. This one was rather sweet, but still really enjoyable. I really liked the meat dish as it was in a little sauce with red onion and fungus. I enjoyed sitting at the window, watching life go by, although I was rather surprised at how quiet it was outside.

Since I was now fed and watered, I decided to take a wander around Pingyao and orientate myself for the next day. I headed up the main street I was on. I was shocked at how quiet it was, I had expected it to be filled with people especially as it was around dinnertime, however most of the shops and restaurants were empty. Maybe a lot of people only visit Pingyao on a day trip? I loved walking along the old street. It was like stepping back in time. It did remind me of similar ancient streets/towns I have visited before, namely Tunxi, but it was a lot, lot quieter. The architecture was gorgeous and all the buildings and streets were well cared for. I walked to the end of the street and decided to turn down one of the streets and walk along there. The sun was setting and I had got some nice views walking down the main street, but off this street the views were even better. The sky was turning a beautiful shade of pink. The pictures I took didn't do it justice. I walked past the old buildings not knowing what they were as I had left the map at my guesthouse. There were some name plaques with explanations but it was getting too dark to read them properly. I had a bit of a stomachache coming on, I blame the red onions in the Shanxi meat paste oil dish as they weren't cooked thorough enough and my stomach was having difficulty digesting them. I happened upon 'The Alley', a milk tea store that I had never tried before, but know to be popular. I ordered one of their milk teas and hoped that that would help my stomach, if not it would warm me up a bit as it was rather chilly. I decided that I would head along the street to the edge of the wall of the ancient city and do a loop around to the main gate that I had entered when first coming to the ancient town earlier in the day. However, it was not meant to be. Walking with the shooting pains in my stomach was proving difficult and the path near the wall looked rather dark and desolate. I decided just to head back the way I'd came and call it a night early, so that I would be better for the next day.

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