12.05.2016 – 14.05.2016
Pingyao is a historical town, located between Beijing and Xian. Its what you imagine when you think of Ancient China. Grey brick alleys, with red lanterns hanging from every eave.
This was Nathan’s first experience on a bullet train, and he was super impressed, it quickly became his favourite form of transportation. I didn’t know you could speak so poetically about a train, but it’s smooth, fast and all very efficient – incredible. The train from Beijing to Pingyao cost $48AUD each and lasted about 4 hours.
We arrived in the evening, and as we were moving east, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees, so we needed to pull out the jackets, scarves and jeans! It was a nice change from the sweaty temperatures in South East Asia. We also hopped on the bus from the train station to the city with Tim, a French traveler currently living in China. He spoke Chinese and was able to help us get to our hostel. All three of us even squeezed in a trishaw. The things you do to save money!! The room at our hostel was authentic to some degree. Ignoring the bathroom, and TV in the corner; the room made you feel like you were back in 1500’s. Traditional Chinese Bedding. Our bed was a landing, of sorts, a metre off the floor and our hostel had kindly put a giant, terribly thin mattress down. The mattress was big enough for a small community to sleep on, so we folded it in half, which made it manageable and more comfortable to sleep on.
The day we spent in Pingyao consisted of walking around, admiring the old buildings, and soaking up the cold weather. The City Wall that surround the city is one of the best maintained in the country and really adds to the charm of Pingyao. We tried lots of different local dishes. The food in Pingyao is delicious, lots of hearty stews, soups, and warm vegetables. We absolutely loved the food here, and could go as one of the best regions for food. It was very un-chinese (well very different from the Chinese we get back at home); no sweet and sour, no fried rice and definitely no prawn toast. Clearly shows how much Chinese takeaway back home is nothing like real Chinese cuisine. Instead we were served, slow cooked beef (Pingyao Beef – the local specialty), handmade noodles, deep fried eggplant. Incredible!
The weirdest experience we had in Pingyao was getting a foot massage. We have been guilty of treating ourselves to the odd massage on this trip and thought it would be a great way to unwind in Pingyao. We asked for a 1 hour foot massage and received a 10 minute foot soak (I’m pretty sure it was meant to go for 40 minutes; makes sense why the massage ladies were so bewildered we wanted to start the massage so eagerly) and 20 minute foot rub. It was clear the ladies had no care for what they were doing. It didn’t bother us at all, it was fairly inexpensive and a good laugh.
OUR FAVOURITE BITS
- Walking around the huge City Walls.
- Eating Pingyao beef, a slow roasted salty beef – delicious!
- FOOD! FOOD! FOOD! Probably some of the best food we had in China, delicious stews, soups and noodles – in a style you wouldn’t expect to be typical Chinese Cuisine.
- Not buying the 130Yuan per person ticket that will include entry to all 22 sights “deemed significant by the local government”. Only one or two are worth it. If you are keen to see these then go right ahead.
- Pingyao is definitely worth a one day stopover on the way out of Beijing, there are other cities that may be just as good, but Pingyao is a lovely place. 2 nights, and a full day is plenty.
- Don’t get a foot massage. Terrible. Trust us.