Pingyao Ancient City, China June.2014
Pingyao Ancient City is a settlement in central Shanxi, China, famed for its importance in Chinese economic history and for its well-preserved Ming and Qing urban planning and architecture. It has a population of about 50,000. The town is first recorded in 800 BC and has been the seat of local government since at least the Qin. By the 16th century, it was a regional financial hub. Pingyao served as the financial center of the region from the 16th century and of the entire Qing Empire during the late 19th century. During those times, there were more than 20 financial institutions within the city, comprising more than half of the total in the whole country. In 1986, China designated Pingyao as one of the Chinese Historical and Cultural Cities. It became a World Heritage Site in 1997, including the outlying Zhenguo Temple and Shuanglin Temple. In 2015, Pingyao ancient city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site became a national 5A-class touristic place. Pingyao still retains its urban layout from the Ming and Qing dynasties, conforming to a typical ba gua pattern. More than 300 sites in or near the city have ancient ruins. The city has over a hundred streets and lanes, lined with close to 4,000 17th-19th.century shops and residences. The streets and storefronts still largely retain their historical appearance. The city walls of Pingyao were constructed in 1370, the 3rd year of the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming. They enclose an area of about 2.25 km2. The town is accessed by six barbican gates, one each on the north and south walls and two each on the east and west walls. This pattern is similar to that of a turtle (the head, tail, and four legs), earning Pingyao the moniker "Turtle City." The walls measure about 12m high, with a perimeter of 6,163 m. A 4 m wide and 4 m deep moat can be found just outside the walls. Aside from the four structured towers at the four corners, there are also 72 watchtowers and more than 3,000 battlements. The number of defensive works supposedly represents the number of Confucius's disciples and other students. The walls are considered among the best-preserved ancient city walls on this scale. (Source:wikipedia.org)
I left my excess belongings at the hotel where I stayed and will come again at 6 in the morning. I took a taxi to go to the Beijing West train station before the business traffic started. My route is to go to Ping Yao, one of China's best-preserved old cities. For this, I will go to Taiyuan first by high-speed train and pass to a local domestic train with the transfer. After the passport and ticket control, I went to my platform on the 3rd floor. A very modern train station, comfortable and bright platforms. You can check easily the train and departure times from the illuminated panels. Check-in starts half an hour before departure and closes 5 minutes before departure. There are all kinds of information on the tickets. Platform, wagon and seat numbers, and departure time. Ticket and passport control again on boarding the train. It is impossible to make mistakes. There are 2 + 5 seats in the wagon layout. It is luxurious and comfortable as it is a high-speed train. The conductor showed me a separate place for my heavy luggage. I paid 195 Yuan (65 Turkish Liras) (3 Yuan = 1 TL). The road is 500 km and 6 hours by road. 2.55 hours by fast train. Its speed was up to 305 km per hour. The train went in and out of the tunnel a lot, but it never slowed down. I got off the train in Taiyuan and went to the station right next to it. After the ticket and passport control, Ping Yao I started to wait for the train. This journey is 100 km, but the duration is 2 hours. Since it is a domestic train, it was stopping at every station and changing passengers. Standing passengers, food in sacks and cans. Since there is no separate place for heavy luggage on this train, I put it by myself. There are no light boards showing the upcoming stations. The Chinese officer Was shouting which station will come to in Chinese. When I caught the word Ping Yao is one of them, I looked at the young man sitting in front of me. When he shook his head, I landed at the station after great struggles. Officer checked again my ticket and passport on the way out of the station. The train has a large staff. There are captains in front, then stewardesses and servants according to seniority. The toilets are clean and there are hot and cold taps that provide drinking water. Each Chinese has a flask and green tea in it. They fill in hot water and drink their tea all day long. There was a woman who was selling trouser belt while traveling on the train but was wearing a uniform-like dress. I thought of myself like, in the Istanbul city ferries. Like them, she introduced every detail of the product in the wagon.
The hotel I stayed in was in the old city. Since motor vehicles are forbidden to enter, the taxi brought and left the city entrance. Then I reached by walking. Some of the buildings in the old city have remained as museums, and some are used as hotels and restaurants. The hotel where I stayed was one of them. A traditional ancient Chinese structure with a wooden courtyard. You can visit the museums in the city within 3 days with the ticket you bought. It costs 120 Yuan. I tried to visit them all during the program. Like the city walls, the governor's house, the old courtroom, the old bank buildings. But the most interesting of them was the reincarnation temple. It is entered through a road that passes through 12 animals in the Chinese calendar. In the middle, there is a mother with babies in her arms, people carrying new babies on both sides.