When we first arrived in Pingyao it felt like a dusty little backwater. I could see how they'd taken the photos I'd seen from the Internet - this place is truly ancient. We were dropped by the taxi at the South gate of the village wall and told (in Chinese and body language) to walk that way...It was a hot, frustrating walk but people are incredibly helpful despite being wary of the language barrier. We did find our accomodation - it was awesome! An ancient kang bed that slept a family (3)
The heart of town is a completely different view to the dusty rubbled streets we walked in on. It's colourful, almost completely original to the 14th century and bustling with Chinese tourists and locals alike. Pingyao is an ancient city dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasty, now protected as a world heritage area. There doesn't seem to be many visitors from outside of China. The only other Europeans we saw were French and as Johan said they must have had a special on trips to China last month in Paris.
Walking through the village people would call out 'Hello' and carry on in Chinese, very friendly despite the language barrier. At one point, we came to a sign at the town wall describing the history in some weird version of English, finishing with 'we hope you trip'. This was a sign leading up to a walk on a 10 metre high wall. This caused Maaike and I to fall about laughing, adding to the joke and giggling more. The guys from the gate even came over to see what was wrong with their sign. Using a translation app we struck up a conversation leading to one of the guys coming with us to a mobile phone shop to buy a SIM card so we could use our apps online.
Pingyao was like a nut cracked open! You buy one ticket to the city (150 CNY) which last for 3 days and allows you to visit every museum, old house, temple or place of interest. You can pick and choose but you really can step into how a day can feel, living this life.
There is one thing I do think they got wrong. The shop fronts and houses have the big paper lanterns lining every building. There was one street I thought 'BOOM' this would be an amazing place at night and dragged the others back in the dark for a photo of the lanterns....
It was like the neon fairy had gone mental!