Not in my ear thanks

Trip Start Apr 08, 2005
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Flag of China  ,
Sunday, September 18, 2005

We liked Beijing, thats probably why we stayed there for a week with no complaints.

Mmmmmmmmmm... where shall we go next. We decided on Pingyao. Unsure why because it sounded a bit touristy for our liking, but you can't pass up the opportunity of looking at the last fully walled city, no cars allowed.

So we booked the soft sleeper carriage on the train. This is a private cabin with four berths, the beds are rock hard, where they got soft from we have no idea. Mind you it kept us away from the poor and the spitting. In the cabin we had a little old lady, who was very grateful that we agreed that she could take our bottom bunk to save her hoiking her rotund body up the non-existent ladder to the top (good deed tick). Our other companion was a rather excitable Chinese girl who was most impressed that Stephen could draw some Chinese characters and enthused greatly about what they mean (this one is JING as in Bei-JING she says in a high pitched squeal). We thought she was going to cry when we got off the train. I liked her so much that I even gave her my unfinished OK magazine.

We had already booked a hostel so had a real excuse to ignore the hawkers who were busy trying to get us into some hovel or another. We were not in the mood, it was 7am, raining, hot and we had not slept very well.

I knew not to get a taxi as they are not allowed within the walls so a trike it was. While I was dealing with the "driver" Stephen was busy having his ear spat into by a local guy pushing a bike. All he could decipher from the constant spray was "DirtyPaperSonWetBat". It wasn't until he had spittle literally dripping from his hair and we were in the comfort of the "taxi" that he realised he was being offered a cheap hostel with ensuite facilities (Thirty per person with bath). Mysteriously, when we saw him again later the price had gone up to 70 for the room and he was now an official tour guide of Pingyao, although still spitting when he talked.

Pingyao itself is quite quaint, like a town stuck in a timewarp. The buildings and walls all date from sometime in the ming or quing or someting dynasty. Somehow they still managed to get the tatty souveniers through this warp though. Anyway, it is a nice place to aimlessly wander around taking pictures of alleyways and people on bikes. That is until it rains. Unfortunately that is all it did while we were there.

The room was magnificent though - Air Con, TV, Window overlooking the hustle and bustle outside. The bed was massive. It was just what we wanted after the night on the train. So much so that we slept through the parade celebrating mid-autumn. We also learnt to tolerate Chinese telly and watched endless hours of movies, in Chinese.

We did manage to go to the Temple you are supposed to see (Tick) and after that had to sit indoors watching the rain fall (and endless repeats of "Light the Red Lantern" shown to the endless groups of Dutch(!) tourists that seemed to turn up every day). Even the tat sellers were indoors.

Time to leave, as I don't look good in waterproofs, but I did get to buy a pink umbrella, which Stephen had to share with me.

Big Love,
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