HomeChinaPingyao: Harmony Guesthouse

This is a good recommendation from Lonely Planet. These nice hostel people included a pick-up at the train station when I emerged bleary-eyed at 7.30am. Plus they helped me arrange for my ticket to Xian tomorrow. The only downside is that the two teenagers do enjoy their techno.

And then there’s lovely Pingyao. It reminds me of Dubrovnik strangely enough as Pingyao is also a walled city that grew rich from trade. But where Dubrovnik is monochrome, Pingyao is a whirl of color: red lanterns, exquisitely painted exterior panels, carved wood and gilt trim. The buildings are two-story structures, built pagoda style around a central courtyard. The Chinese love being part of a group and the architecture reflects that.

As always, I have 10 Surprises:

1. Whoa, cowboy. You want 120 yuan (EUR15) to visit the museum and interior courtyards? I think not. The Forbidden City was only 40.

2. The vigorous renovations going on everywhere. Pingyao is going for the gold in the tourist race. If it had a port there would be a cruise an hour docking here.

3. So few hair salons in China.

4. There are huge thermoses of hot water everywhere (trains, hotels) .

5. Chinese will pour a cup of hot water and drink it like tea.

6. Despite the one-child policy, I do see siblings playing.

7. There’s such a thing as “maternity police”

8. Chinese dates? They appear to be a sort of dried fruit, but what?

9. Sweet/sour ginger candy.

10. Boil rice in water, drain off the water and drink it for breakfast or to aid digestion. What will they think of next?



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