We checked into our double courtyard Hotel Yide in the heart of what's known as the Ancient City of Pingyao. Pingyao has existed for over 1500 yrs, and was an important town in the Qin dynasty. Surrounded by intact city walls 10m high that were originally built in mud in 800 BC but subsequently rebuilt in brick and stone in 1370. John and I walked most of the circumference of the walls - about 3.5kms in the blazing heat and humidity - why I'm not sure other than we got a good panorama of the Ancient city. But walking thru the town was fantastic - Pingyao is one of the best most preserved of the ancient cities. We visited the old Court and Government buildings, the Confucius Temple built in 1163 , the Taoist temple, the Ri Sheng Chang bank ( that issued the first drafts and cheques in China in 1832), many museums, and finally the First Armed Escort Agency in Nth China !! Not what you thought that was, but it was the first security and bodyguard service offered in China manned by trained Kung Fu experts who protected the mail services and the transport of goods. And then
there's the shops and restaurants - dozens of them all pretty authentic with the expected red lanterns hanging outside. We enjoyed some really great local Shanxi food - the eggplant was especially good. And discovering Ying Chang beer at 10yuan (1.7$NZ) was a bonus which with the heat we really enjoyed. This was a fantastic place to stop - it's full of domestic tourists at this time of the year, but that did not detract from all the attractions (thnx Cathy for the recommendation)
Next we're off to X'ian by train so its off the railway station we go.