Between the two mammoth cities of Beijing and Shanghai we spent about a week altogether in two other cities smaller in scale: Pingyao in the Shanxi province (pop: 0.5 million) and Xi’an in the Shaanxi province (note the difference!) with a population of ‘only’ 8 million people. Yes, that’s right, only half the size of the Netherlands… Pingyao is mainly known for having conserved traditional Chinese life within its still standing city walls, while Xi’an’s main attraction is outside of its (also still standing) city walls: the Terracotta Warriors. Both are Unesco World Heritage sites. We’ll start with Pingyao here and post separately on Xi’an.
During the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was a financial centre of China. Its history dates back 2,700 years, and is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the known world. It is still inhabited by 50,000 residents (inside the walls) and is renowned for its well-preserved ancient city wall (source: Wikipedia).
Simply put, the old city of Pingyao is shaped as a square, surrounded by city walls and has a few main streets that will get you across town to one of the six gates. Inside these walls you’ll find many traditional courtyard houses that are little mazes themselves.The tourist sector has set up a smart system of giving you a good flavour of what the old days looked like by making 18 historically significant venues available to visit, for which you can buy a type of 3-day passepartout.
Included is also a walk on the city wall from the North to the South gate. From the wall you can clearly see that there are no high-rise buildings, almost all buildings have the same traditional and pretty rooftops and that the town has a calm and relaxed feel about it. This was good news as after our fast-paced travel through Russia, Mongolia and Beijing, we had decided Pingyao would be a place where we would take it easy. We spent our days mainly strolling (or slowly biking) through the small streets, trying out local dishes, visiting most of the 18 venues and some more strolling. We also tried a local wine, very very sweet. As we didn’t have a bottle opener we wanted to buy one in the shop where we bought the wine. They didn’t sell these, but kindly offered to open the bottle right there! We resisted the urge to drink from the bottle on the street…
Pingyao does however get very crowded, especially with Chinese tourists. On our first day we saw thousands of tourists, but only one ‘western’ face. This also meant that in some cases we became a kind of 19th attraction as we were asked a few times to pose for a picture with a Chinese tourist! Because we came here in the low season it wasn’t bad though, especially in the evenings it was not too busy. We specifically enjoyed these evenings as the red lanterns lit up the streets and created a fairytale atmosphere.
Originally we planned to stay two nights in Pingyao, but as we were enjoying the city, felt relaxed and had a very nice (and cheap) place to stay, we stayed an extra night. The guesthouse where we stayed was a traditional building built around a small courtyard. We had a massive built-in bed (also traditional), a separate living area and we were the only people staying there! Some more info and our review you’ll find on Tripadvisor
Instead of having Friday late afternoon after-work drinks, we made our way to the Pingyao train station to catch another train….
For some more impressions of Pingyao’s traditional streets, have a look at these pictures we took
Medzi dvoma megalopolami – Pekingom a Sanghajom – sme stravili dohromady tyzden v dvoch dalsich ‘mensich’ mestach. Prve mesto bolo Pingyao v provincii Shanxi s pol milionom obyvatelov a druhe Xian v provincii Shaanxi (vsimnite si rozdielu) s populaciou 8 milionov. Spravne, i toto ‘mensie’ cinske mesto je vacsie nez cele Slovensko.
Pingyao je zname hlavne pre svoje zachovane tradicne cinske ulicky obklopene mestskymi hradbami, ktore tiez dodnes stoja. Hlavna atrakcia Xianu je naopak za mestskymi hradbami (a za mestom samotnym) – Terakotova Armada. Oboje patria k pamiatkam kulturneho dedicstva Unesco. Tento clanok je venovany nasemu pobytu v Pingyao, o Xiane si precitate v dalsom poste.
V casoch vladnutia cinskej dynastie Qing, Pingyao bolo financnym centrom vtedajsej Ciny. Historia mesta siaha az 2700 rokov dozadu a mestecko jednym z najzachovalejsich povodnych starovekych miest na svete. Medzi mestskymi hradbami stale zije okolo 50 000 obyvatelov a hradby samotne su tiez zachovane v takmer povodnom stave. (Wikipedia)
Staroveke mestecko Pingyao a jeho hradby su postavene do stvorca a pretina ho niekolko hlavnych ulic, ktore vedu k jednej zo 6 mestskych bran. Medzi hradbami sa nachadza mnozstvo tradicnych domov, kazdy s niekolkymi dvormi v jeho utrobach. 18 domov, chramov ci byvalych firiem je spristupnenych verejnosti s jednym trojdnovym vstupnym listkom pre vsetky. V cene je i vstup na mestske hradby, po ktorych sa da dookola prejst zo severu na juh. Zhora sa ponuka pohlad na malebne strechy pod hradbami ci nakuknutie do dvorov miestnych obyvatelov. Cele mesto posobi velmi pohodovo a kludne.
Toto nam skvele zapadlo do planu dat si po nasich cestach na chvilu pohov. Dni v Pingyao sme stravili pomalymi prechadzkami alebo bicyklovanim pomedzi male ulicky, ochutnavanim miestnych pochutok, prehliadkou takmer vsetkych z 18tich atrakcii a este dalsimi prechadzkami. Ochutnali sme tu i cinske cervene vino – velmi velmi sladke. Otvarac nemame a ani v obchode ho nemali, ale pripraveni na cudzincov, flasu nam otvrorili priamo v obchode. Cestou na izbu sme odolavali chticu pit rovno z flase.
I ked posobi kludne, mestecko sa chvilami meni na rusnu turisticku atrakciu a to hlavne s navalmi cinskych turistickych skupiniek. Prvy den sme videli tisice cinskych turistov, no len jednu cudziu tvar, co zaroven znamenalo, ze my sme sa stali akousi 19tou atrakciou, s ktorou sa cinski turisti chceli fotit. Vdaka tomu, ze sme prisli v slabej sezone, dalsie dni boli velmi pokojne a tak sme si mohli uzivat vecerne prechadzky rozpravkovymi ulickami s rozsvietenymi cervenymi lampionmi.
Na Pingyao sme povodne planovali 2 noci, ale kedze sme si pobyt uzivali a nase ubytovanie bolo velmi fajn (a lacne), rozhodli sme sa ostat jednu noc navyse. Hostinec, v ktorom sme byvali bol tiez v dome s tradicnou architekturou postavenom okolo maleho dvora. V kazdej izbe sa nachadzala akasi vstavana postel (tiez vraj tradicne cinska) a v nasej i oddelena ‘obyvacka’. Navyse prve dni sme boli jedinymi navstevnikmi! Nase hodnotenie ubytovania mozete najst v anglictine tu na Tripadvisore.
V piatok vecer, namiesto drinkov v meste, sme sa vybrali na dalsi vlak do nasej dalsej destinacie…
Pozrite sa na dalsie dojmy z Pingyaa cez vyber nasich fotiek tu.