Edit Blog Post
Published: January 22nd 2013
CHINA: Ten New Songs...Party in Pingyao.
Escaping the winter pollution of Datong by taxi...hoping the coal smoke would not chase us South...hope our hotel will take us a day earlier...the longest taxi ride of our lives...383 kms...4 hours one way...8 hours return for the driver...price to us well worth it.
Ren Cheng has a co-driver...race down the expressway...only stopping to photograph Yamen Pass Great Wall.
As we approached Taiyuen, the capital of Shanxi Provence, we saw a pall of smoke ahead, chimney stacks, power stations, the twin pagodas of Taiyuen...black with soot, a farmer hoeing his veggie patch against the wall of a power station chimney, 100 kms of smoke stacks...the power house of China.
All I could think of was this is where "The Apocalypse"
should be filmed.
108 kms south..walled city approaching...welcome to Pingyao.
Had to transfer to a golf buggy vehicle as taxis not allowed in the ancient city...paying Ren Cheng's fee of 800 RMB plus 135 RMB in tolls...kids hanging on the back laughing...falling off as the vehicle slides on the ice and smashes into a wall...driver grimacing...me only thinking...
"What have I got us into?"
Down narrow, icy alleys. Stops at the rear entrance to
Yide Hotel...insisting this is the right one...me sure it was not...arguing...a woman insisting he take us to the right hotel...he relenting...OK your hotel just ahead.
We got out with our back packs and entered a main street...like stepping back into time...there is Tian Yuan Kuai Hotel.
On entering a gentle young man in traditional dress named Jonathon greets us with reasonable English.
I still not sure what I had got us into so ask first to see the room we have booked from tomorrow.
Led down some ancient corridors, courtyard, room large, bed enormous. An 8 foot wide Kang bed with millet seed pillows...yep...extend our booking to 4 nights...time to recover.
Shops nearby full of old and political items...large ornate gate over the street nearby...Monkey Gate...cobbled street...icy...sky blue...we love this place.
Dinner next to the window...kids darting by...letting off crackers.
And then I heard it.
There was music...ethereal in this magic icy locale...vocals in English...gave me goosebumps...seemed so perfect for this time and place. "What is this music?"
It was Leonard Cohen's "Ten New Songs"...
now one of our favourite CDs...always takes us back to Pingyao.
The following morning after
a great sleep and a bath in brown water we went to breakfast.
A couple near the far window, so in my usual fashion I said "Hello, where are you from?"
The man turned, looked up and in a laconic drawl calmly said: "Goodday." And so we met Mike & Ros
...then living in the Grampians in Victoria...now in Toowoomba, Queensland.
5 years later we invited them to join us to go to the Festival in the Desert in Mali...travelled together in Mali and Ethiopia...our Best Man & Matron of Honour at "Our Tuareg Wedding" at Timbuktu...first met in the icy ancient city of Pingyao...amazing how paths cross.
Explored Pingyao together. First we had to buy tickets that allowed access over a number of days to all sights in the ancient city.
A courthouse, the city governor's building, a grain mill, temples, Ming & Qing Dynasty, ghoulish images of hell in the Confucian Temple, courtyarded houses, onto a roof to see the city wall and snow covered rooves, Pingyao...one of the first places in the World to engage in banking.
After lunch, and as we opened the door to go out...a couple with
backpacks coming in..."Where are you from?"
It was Nicholas and Emily
from Melbourne...I'm still in touch with Nicholas.
And the following day...2 more backpackers...English...been doing humanitarian work in India...Nick & Dianne
Denise and I have kept in touch with Nick & Dianne ever since...met up a couple of years ago when they visited Sydney...then again a few months ago.
And the 8 of us partied together in Pingyao...I doubt Pingyao has seen anything like it before or since!
We partied to 3.30am...my black label Beijing Water...17 bottles of beer...5 of wine...the manager disappearing into the night to stock up on chips and nibbles...the young girls looking after us...no sleep tonight!
Pingyao...where Denise & I attended a wedding and Denise danced and sang with the band...the DJ nicknaming her thereafter as "China Girl"...
a name she carried throughout China.
Pingyao...where we walked atop the ancient Wall with Mike & Ros...observing life pass us by.
Pingyao...our place of dreams...where the manager gave us a 260 year old Qing wine vase as a 25th wedding anniversary gift...a copy of Ten New Songs...and we made friends...all travelling in different directions...that we have retained to this day.
Pingyao...gotta love it.
Relax & Enjoy,
Tot: 3.066s; Tpl: 0.059s; cc: 57; qc: 210; dbt: 0.1734s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 2.1mb