This is the third city and the fifth day of our fourteen-day adventure. Thank you for taking time to read.
The Ancient City of Pingyao (平遥古城)
Pingyao is our third destination in the next leg of our trip. Similar, with Datong, it is located in the Shanxi (山西) province. The entire walled city is listed under UNESCO World Heritage site, as “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city.”
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Pingyao was actually the financial center for the entire China. During those times, trading merchants deemed it unsafe to carry silver coins with them everywhere they go. Because of this, exchange houses was established. Called a piaohao (票号) in Chinese, they provided remittance services, took deposits, and loaned money.
Mr. Zhang (张) fetched us from the station, again with a big “SHANDA” written on a piece of paper. He brought us to the hotel to rest a bit, before heading off to our excursion.
Shuang Lin Temple (双林寺) and Wang’s Family Courtyard
These were originally not part of our itinerary, because we were trying to save up on tour expenses, so we really appreciate Jonathan for arranging this for us.
Shuang Lin Temple boasted of it’s colorful, life-like sculptures.
Wang’s family compound was a luxurious residence built by Wangs from 1762 to 1811, occupying a total area of 150,000 square meters.
After those two wonderful sites, Mr. Zhang brought us to a local restaurant for lunch. Here, we got to try food with funny translations: “Dun dun the rejection,” “Foreskin noodles,” “fry a bowl of bald,” etc. It was also my first time to try eating fried rabbit. Tasted yummy!
Zhangbi Ancient Fortress (张壁古堡)
After lunch, we finally headed to our main destination, with online description that intrigued me.
Also known as the Zhangbi ancient castle, it was built in 617AD, and underneath this ancient village was a network of underground tunnels, which served as the defense system of the entire village.
We hired a local guide for this one, because we feared getting lost in the tunnels. An English speaking guide cost cny60 (php424).
The funny thing was, when our guide was touring us around the tunnels, she described several instances on how the soldiers could trap the “animals”. It was only towards the end of our tour, when I realized that what she meant was “enemies”. A total mind game!
Yi De Hotel (一得客栈)
We arrived back at our hotel around 5pm and said goodbye to Mr. Zhang.Our hotel also has its own history, being inside the ancient city. It was built between 1736 and 1795 during Qing dynasty, and was once the home of a bank manager. We rested a bit in our nice ancient room, before heading back out.
We headed out for dinner, and found out that the main road inside the ancient walls was alive at night!
We stayed there until almost all the shops closed down (around 10pm). It was dark on our way back to the hotel, best not to walk alone.
All throughout the day, there was a feeling that we had been transported to another world. Really glad we had one more day here.
For Pingyao tour, contact Jonathan http://www.pingyaotravelguide.com/
To read about our entire travel itinerary, click here.
For our previous day in Datong, click here.