If anyone wants a glimpse into something that might look like ancient China, they don’t have to go very far from Beijing; the town of Pingyao is only a 4 hour fast train ride away. Within the walls of Pingyao’s old town, the well-preserved Ming and Qing dynasty architecture take a person back centuries to a time gone by. Of course, expect many Chinese tourists trawling the streets and not locals dressed in olden day Chinese clothes bartering their wares.
You can always read more about Pingyao here. I thought it was one of those places which many foreigners don’t put on their to-visit lists in China and go from Beijing to Xi’an without realizing they are bypassing this unique gem of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a lot of fun to just wander endlessly through main and side streets and trying out different snacks being sold by shops. As Pingyao’s old town is a popular destination for Chinese tourists, many of the shops cater to their wants and interests. I did find a shop which I thought was particularly unique, a shoe shop which sold hand-made shoes. The design of the shoes reminded me a lot of the popular brand, “Toms”. Actually, I have no idea if the shoes are truly made there or if they are mass-produced in a factory somewhere else and the shop places a couple of people to appear as if they are making the shoes while in the store, to make it seem like everything is authentic so tourists will be enticed to purchase them. The designs on the shoes looked quite intricate and I didn’t see anyone actually sewing them onto the shoes. Should I give them the benefit of the doubt?
One of my favorite memories of Pingyao was after watching a World Cup match with my friend Peter in a small bar in the old town. At midnight, we walked outside and it was dead quiet and the streets were enveloped in darkness. The tourists had left, the locals had gone to bed, and all shops were closed. It was a lot of fun to walk those mazy dead streets as we navigated our way out.
Read more about the interesting story of Pingyao beef, a Chinese delicacy that goes back centuries.