Leo had a conference in Pingyao so I tagged along to check the place out and keep Paul's Dad company who was visiting from Australia.
We caught the fast train to Taiyuan which is 531kms South West of Beijing. (You can check out where Taiyuan is by pressing the Map Tab on the Home Page of my blog.)
Taiyuan is the capital of Shanxi Province and is one of the main manufacturing cities in China. It was a huge place!
At Taiyuan we met up with everyone else from Leo's work and jumped on a bus to travel 82kms north to the Ancient Walled City of Pingyao.
On the bus everyone was put in to teams and told that once they got to Pingyao they were doing a treasure hunt around the City for team building. Leo complained to me that he didn't want to be playing games, it was a waste of his time and he should be back at the farm working but once we arrived of course his competitive streak kicked in.
As John and I were wandering around exploring the City during the afternoon we spotted Leo and his team running around like they were competing in The Amazing Race. They had a list of clues and had to find as many dairy products as they could that had been hidden throughout the city. It was no surprise to me when it was announced at dinner that night that Leo's team had won.
It's hard to believe just how old Pingyao is. It's history dates back 2700 years and has been quite well preserved. It was an absolute photographer's paradise.
The ancient city of Pingyao is inside a wall of 2.6 square kilometres, surrounded by a moat. John and I climbed up on the wall and walked around to get a bird's eye view of the ancient city.
There seemed to be a lot of Chinese tourists at Pingyao but not many foreigners. John and I lost count of the people that took our photo. I love it when people take photos, there are the ones that do the sneaky ones when they think you aren't looking and then there are the ones that get a hold of you like you are long lost friends and get someone to take a photo of you together. Occasionally I then get them to take one with my phone as well. How cute are these kids!
After a traditional Chinese Dinner with Leo's work colleagues we wandered up the street with Paul and John. It was so pretty at night and much more enjoyable as the temperature had cooled a little.
During the day I had seen where you could get your feet nibbled by the fish so I talked Leo in to trying it with me.
What a time we had.
Leo had a procedure done on an ingrown toe nail a couple of days previously so he only wanted to put one foot in. Paul then thought Leo should get his for half price but they wouldn't come at that. Paul then takes off one of his boots and tries to put one of his feet in with Leos.
Luckily the Chinese love a bit of fun as the Aussies certainly made a lot of noise. Everyone from the street came to look and laugh at us and we had the whole place entertained.
After a few drinks in a bar and making some more friends we then went back to our Hotel. I can now tick off "Stay in a Traditional Chinese Hotel" from my bucket list.
I said to Leo, "It really is beautiful".
Leo said, "Yes it's just a shame they forgot to put a mattress on the bed".
There was no snoozing the alarm the next morning. We were very glad to get off that block of concrete.
The next day Leo and Paul were busy with the conference so John and I had most of the day to continue exploring. There was so much to see. We saw pearls getting polished, children doing amazing drawings, antiques galore and silver jewellery getting made to name a few things.
We could have even gone for a pony ride but we passed on that. The poor ol' things had seen better days.
We then decided to get off the main streets and explore the back streets which was so interesting. We wandered around for hours and were absolutely drenched in perspiration by the end of it but it was well worth the experience.
It was then time to catch the train back to Taiyuan to meet up with the others. At the train station it is just like at an airport and you put all your bags through the x-ray machine. Security told me I had a knife in my bag and I was to get it out. I wasn't worried as I knew I didn't have a knife and opened my bag for them to have a look through. They kept telling me to get the knife out by showing me a knife and pointing to my bag and I kept telling them to look through my bag while smiling extra nicely and eventually they let me through.
Leo and I caught the train back to Beijing arriving home at 10pm to find the locks on our apartment door had been changed. I tell you there is never a dull moment in this life we lead. Thoughts are running through our heads, had we paid the rent, had our visas expired and we were being kicked out of the country? Anyway Leo went up to reception to be told the cleaner had broken the lock and we were given new keys so it looks like we are here for a little while longer yet.