Entering the Middle Age
Pingyao is a place that time has forgotten. When you enter through the city gate it is like entering a movie. The streets are stone paved and the buildings are all of middle age Ming-style. There are almost no motor traffic and the pace of the city is quite sedative.








Small City
Pingyao is a really small Chinese city about 500 kilometers southwest of Beijing, about halfway on the railroad to Xian.
After 11 hours on a hard sleeper I arrived in the early morning hours. My first Chinese hard sleeper ever. Actually not as bad as it sounds. 

Lot of Tourists
Had a bad luck the day I arrived. It turned out that it was the opening day of a national photo exhibition in the city. Herds of camera men, journalists and tourists where gathering and it was hard to get a hotel. Had to check in at the most expensive hotel ever on my tour in China. Got a double, 280 Yuan, no dorms available.





Economical center
Today it's hard to believe, but once Pingyao was an important economical center of China. It's most prosperous time was during the Ming dynasty. But as the modern economy entered the scene it was later completely forgotten. Therefore it has kept the old houses and streets just like it once was in the middle age.

World Cultural Heritage
So, no one really cared about the place until it suddenly became listed as a world cultural heritage by the UN. And now, during the last years, it has become a popular goal for, as well Chinese as western, tourists. The Chinese are experts on creating business out of nothing!










The City Wall
The city is famous for its old city wall. Still you can see most of the bricks on top of the wall are stamped with the imperial sign of the Ming dynasty. The wall completely surrounds the old city and you can do a full lap here in a nice three hours walk. 
By the way, I heard on the news six weeks later that a part of the wall had collapsed. 








Short Visit
Though, besides getting inspired by the atmosphere, there is not a lot to do in Pingyao. For most people, one night is enough here. 

City Ticket
To get around you are forced to buy a city ticket. It costed 120 Yuan and gave access to the Wall, several museums and some temples. There is the also an old bank, a kung fu museum and some exhibitions, but all of them pretty tame. 








How to Get Out of Here
There is one tricky part concerning Pinyao. You can't get a ticket out of here! I had a hinch about this, and tried to get a ticket already before leaving Beijing, and then once again when I arrived at Pingyao. 
-Wo yao mai piao qu Xian, mingtian.
-I want to buy a ticket to Xian, tomorrow!  
-Mei you, mei you! was the (typical) Chinese answer -It is impossible! 
Why? I didn't get it.

Actually, I found out that no one had a ticket out of here. Well, one guy had, and he had bought it three month earlier in the Netherlands! How can you buy a Chinese ticket in Europe but not in China? Some one has been able to order tickets through their hotels, others tooked the bus to the next city and left from there. 

As I already checked out from the hotel I took a chance and just went to the station before the train should pass, hoping for some miraculous solution. And now, suddenly, it was no problem at all to buy a ticket. I even got a  reservation for the sleeper wagon. Hurray! But I never understood this procedure. Why so difficult? 


After a while I realize that this is some of the mysterious charm about the traveling in China. In a place you don't understand the language and you don't understand the culture. -You never know what's happening. Or when! Or even if! 



Chilling out.