Four weeks at university were over. I was feeling a bit sad to leave Nanjing and all the cool people I met there. But I was also excited, as my three weeks of independent travel were about to start (no more classes at uni, finally the real holiday!). Wooohoooo!
My first destination was Taiyuan. If you know what kind of city it is you are probably thinking: “Why on Earth….”. However, the reason I was going there was my friend Robert. Only a few months ago we were sitting at work, chatting during the staff drinks about how we both were planning to go to China. At first I thought he wasn’t serious, but a few weeks later I got a message saying he was in the airport waiting for his flight and that I should come to visit him when I’m in China.
So there I was. With a massive backpack and three pairs of shoes going to visit Rob (he was struggling to find the right size shoes in China so I brought them all the way from Edinburgh). From Nanjing I took 18 hour soft sleeper train. That was the best train journey I’ve ever had! I was really tired when I got in, as I didn’t sleep the night before (goodbye party etc.). Anyway, I got three guys to share the room with and even though they could not speak any English, they were really nice and kept offering me food and beer. I was tempted to take a beer, but after thinking about the toilet in the train, I politely declined the offer. Basically I fell asleep really quick and only wake up in the morning, before my guys were about to leave. They kind of woke me up to say bye. For the rest couple of hours I was enjoying the views through the window and trying to scare little kids that kept opening the doors just to get a glimpse of the foreigner – me!
These kind of views always fascinated me in China
My friend met me at the train station and I could see him coming from miles away due to his blonde hair. He had to go back to school for his afternoon classes, so I spent a few hours alone. Taiyuan is a quite a modern city, however there is not that much to see there (or maybe there is but I just didn’t see anything).
I went for a walk along the river which was quite exciting as there were quite a few interesting bridges (my inner civil engineer was pleased)
In the evening, we went to a local food place and got the best dumplings ever. Later on, we got to the expats bar (don’t ask me how it’s called, I don’t remember much from that night) just around the corner from Rob’s place. Taiyuan is not that popular among foreigners, however there were more than enough people to get wasted with.
Next day was a nightmare. My hangover was terrible and then Rob decided that the weekend can’t be wasted and dragged me out of the flat. He decided that visiting Pingyao would be a good idea. Not gonna lie, I never even heard about that Pingwhateverplace and just wanted to stay in bed. After a long ride in the taxi (which seemed like an eternity to my stomach) we finally got to the train station just to find out that there were no tickets left. Had to catch another taxi to get to the bus station. I was feeling so sick and the two or three hour bus ride didn’t seem to be a good idea to me. But I thought I would give it a try.
And that was the best decision ever! I knew nothing about the town, but as soon as we arrived I got so excited. Pingyao’s old town is included in UNESCO world heritage list and it’s just absolutely gorgeous. It has the best preserved county wall in China and the entire area has this really nice vibe. We stayed in Harmony Guest House, which was absolutely great. We were able to rent bikes from the guest house and that was a really smart decision. Even though the main streets were often crowded and it was difficult to get through the people, most of other streets were fine and bikes helped us to explore a wider area quickly. It started raining in the evening and the moment of cycling through those beautiful streets in the rain was one of my favourite memories from China.
Some random photos from the town:
All kind of stories in the streets
A really random church
We spent couple of days in Pingyao and got back to Taiyuan as randomly as we got there. We didn’t even expect to get the train tickets back, as we left it for the last minute. But we got lucky. On Monday I left for Xi’an. Almost missed my train as I underestimated the time needed to get to the train station. Had to run, but got there on time. The last thing I saw in Taiyuan was this: