Pingyao is one of the many walled citys of China. What makes this one so special is it’s well preserved original 1000 year old West wall,
This seems to make Pingyao a major tourist draw and serve A LOT of people. Being here in the slow season was busy… I cant imagine what it would be like in the high times. At first glance from my weary traveler’s eyes, in the late evening, it reminded me of a cross between Key West and a walled old town Vegas.
We woke up at the Jia Xin Guest House, to the sounds of the Jia (I think that’s how it works) Family milling around in the courtyard, the city coming alive outside, and the sunlight finding it’s way through the hazy sky, the clear corrugated courtyard roof, the sheer blinds, and onto our faces.
The guest house was amazing and consistently surprised me to the very last minute of our stay. From the main road, it was at the end of a dark ally with a huge, spiked, iron fence along one side… this ended up being a kindergarten. At the end of the ally was a lit up sign and a slider door. From the ally, it seemed dusty and dark, but once we walked through the door, we came into a very peaceful courtyard. This space seemed to be the gathering, casual dining, and receiving area of the home. Standing just inside the door my eyes quickly scanned the layout and I instantly loved this functional home and guest house. The first floor is horseshoe shaped with (not)French doors separating indidual spaces; to the right is the kitchen and a guest room. With some bike and (electric) moped storage tucked in the corner. Straight on, the master suite which most likely opened up to another private garden or space in the back, next to that, the dining room, which had guest bunks attached. On the left, a small rolltop garage door for big deliveries, a beverage cooler, desk, and bar for the business side of the affair. In the center, a small picnic table. The second floor was accessible by a cement stairway on either side and a catwalk that encircled the open courtyard to reach a dozen or so guest rooms. Above, the clear roof gave the feeling of being outside while keeping out the weather. Our room was beind one of the (not)French doors on the catwalk which opened to a small living room joint our room to a larger private room. Our little space was 8 x 10 with a desk, two chairs, a king bed pad of over wood with buckwheat pillows and a glassed in bathroom. It was tight, but made you just want to leap into bed after a long day of seeing the city. When we made our way downstairs, Jai Yer fed us a wonderful wonderful meal of sweat and savory cabbage, steamed buns, rice porage with a squash slice, and a hard boiled egg
we enjoyed it while getting to know Alli, a traveler from the UK. Then off to discover Pingyao by day.
It’s a neat little city. I love all of the brick work and the way that larger trades in the states (like the lumberyard) are integrated into the community in the same way as our guest house… a front gate that opens to a coutyard. The two main streets in town are thriving with shops, restaurants, and hotels. There’s a really old bank and many historical sights to see… we just wandered. We found our way up onto the wall for a little picnic
It was pretty amazing…
We then went to have an amazing meal that was a lot easier with the help of Jia Yer who gave us a piece of paper with “I’m Vegetarian. No meat” in chinese… she was so sweet!
We were amazed by how few western tourists we encountered, but we, coincidently, were seated next to a fine Scot named Iain. A good chap on a round the world by rail, soul searching trip.
Then home to plan our next move. We decided to hit Xi’an by bullet train for a quick trip to the Muslim quarters, then head southeast in search of good weather and cleaner air.