Pingyao, Shanxi province, China

We only stayed in Pingyao for two days but we have loads of photos. Its city centre is a well preserved maze of narrow streets and traditional courtyard buildings surrounded by a city wall that you can walk on, so it’s very picturesque. A single ticket covers 18 different sights in the city as well as the city walls. We didn’t manage to see everything over two days but I think we got a good flavour (if you happen to be over 60 remember to carry your passport as entry is then free – there are some advantages to getting old…).

20130914-222350.jpgWe arrived at the train station at 5.20am. Fortunately, the guesthouse sent a taxi to meet us.

20130914-170204.jpgOur guesthouse, like many in the city, is situated in one of the traditional courtyards

20130914-170219.jpgBustling Nan Dajie, the main street in Pingyao’s old town

20130914-172023.jpgThis procession of ladies walked up and down the main street several times a day with music playing

20130914-172043.jpgThe city walls on an overcast afternoon

20130914-223820.jpgPingyao was a banking centre in the early 19th century. Some of its banks are now museums with mock up rooms.

20130914-222404.jpgWe were constantly surprised by how many courtyards led off from the first one.

20130914-172010.jpgOne of the more interesting museums was dedicated to martial arts, of course we had to have a go in the practice area – the guan daos were very heavy (it’s quite possible that I have misidentified these weapons – if you know better please leave a comment!)

20130914-172107.jpgStreet life. These shopkeepers were playing cards in between serving customers

20130914-232700.jpgSeveral temples are included in the city’s attractions. The oldest building in the city is Dacheng Hall which dates from 1163 and is found in the Confucian Temple

20130914-222430.jpgBack to school in the Confucian Temple

20130914-224159.jpgOne of our favourite sights was the City God Temple – some of the depictions of hell were quite graphic, but not all of the statues were so gruesome

20130914-225210.jpgThe City God Temple shows a short play twice a day. We had no idea what was going on but it was interesting to see the costumes.

20130914-225222.jpgLots of Chinese visitors were throwing coins at this pot in the middle of a pond. Most of them missed…

20130914-170241.jpgThere are lots of rooftop dragons on the temples

20130914-222417.jpgIf all that sightseeing is a bit too much you can treat yourself to an hour long foot massage for just £3! Highly recommended, but be warned they’re definitely aiming for unknotting the muscles rather than relaxation.

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