This time I travelled by myself to Pingyao Ancient Town in Shanxi Province for three days (from June 11 to June 13) after long time work. I had wanted to visit an ancient town and experience old town culture for a few months. Finally I chose Pingyao, which is not far from Harbin, Heilongjiang Province.
800rmb (exclusive of transportation fee)
Day one: Arrival in Pingyao Ancient Town
I booked the train ticket from Harbin to Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province in advance. The ticket price was 213rmb for a hard seat. After more than 24 hours’ train journey, I arrived in Taiyuan City. I did not stay in this city for long, and headed directly onto my next train journey to Pingyao Ancient Town.
I bought a bullet train ticket at Taiyuan South Railway Station at only 28.5rmb and arrived at Pingyao Ancient Town Railway Station after 40 minutes. I had to admit that the bullet train is so fast and comfortable! When I arrived at Pingyao, it was dark. I checked in at a family hotel booked in advance. Because I did not buy the entrance ticket of the ancient town and the hotel is located outside the scenic area, I just strolled outside and waited to enter the town the next day. I was told that the hotel price outside the ancient town was cheaper than that inside. But if you stay in the ancient town, you can wander around inside it at night. I just ate some local snacks. I also found several small restaurants and ate at one, where the food was cheap.
Day two: Pingyao Ancient Town
I woke up early the second day and tasted some specialties served by the owner of the hotel. After a big meal, I started my whole day stroll inside the ancient town. I queued up for one hour to get the ticket. The price was 120rmb.
After strolling in the town for a few hours, it was raining! But the rain never made me upset, as the atmosphere was peaceful for me to walk in such a rainy day. The environment could bring people back to ancient China.
Walking in the hutongs, I suddenly thought of the hutongs in Beijing because they are quite similar in layout.
In the afternoon, I visited a famous draft bank, Rishengchang Draft Bank of Qing Dynasty, which was founded in the reign of emperor Guangxu and closed in 1923. This draft bank, which existed for one hundred years or so, had witnessed the evolution history of modern China. I searched related information about Chinese draft banks before the tour, so it was not so difficult for me to understand.
Later I also visited Weitaihou draft bank, which was also a famous one. As one of the representative institutions of Shanxi businessmen, it cannot be neglected.
In the next few hours, I visited the No 1. Armed Escort Company at Ancient North China, which is Huabei Diyi Biaoju in Chinese.
Then I visited the largest county office in existence which has a history of more than 600 years; it was called Pingyao County Office. I thought it was because of its long history and large scale, there were lots of people on that day. I was interested in its developing history, therefore I hired a guide there to explain for me.
After the whole day’s tour, I thought Shanxi was really a historical and cultural place. If I have a chance in the future, I would definitely visit here again.
Day three: Mianshan Mountain
Today I travelled to Mianshan. I had heard that the scenery there was quite charming. On the way to Mianshan I got to know several people, There were from Australia. I felt very happy to make some friends while travelling. I could finally have companions to talk! The first thing we did after arriving there was buy the ticket, 110rmb per person, including insurance and sightseeing bus ticket. It was far from the reception hall to the entrance of the mountain roads. The bus had many stops on the way; tourists could choose to get off at any stops where they could see what they were interested in. We directly got to the top of the mountain and then went down from the top to see the views along the way.
The mountain is more than 2000 meters high. The roads lead up and up, and the air is thinner and thinner but fresh and cool. It made me relaxed when breathed the air on the top of the mountain.
As I came to Mianshan by a rented car, the driver had to come back to Pingyao County at 4pm. It was in fact a hurried short trip to Mianshan. I didn’t visit all the scenic areas. I was later told that it is not enough to visit the whole Mianshan in one day. If tourists want to have a complete view of this mountain, they are suggested to stay a night at the foot of the mountain.
The original itinerary to Wang’s Family Courtyard was cancelled for I had no more time. I hurriedly ended my short trip in Pingyao Ancient Town. But the scenery and people I met during the journey would never disappear in my mind!