I really liked Pingyao in the quiet morning that I arrived. Only a half day left, I leave the hostel early to wander.
Outside the south gate are groups of locals doing all sort of activities. A few are playing badminton. There’s a dance group and another that is marching. One looks like it is tai chi but with swords yet another group is dancing with a racket that’s holding a ball like a lacross player. Sometimes they will toss the ball high in the air and catch it in their rackets. Cyclists cut across the park.
I continue to walk beside the wall. No surprise, there’s a lot of construction happening. I wonder how new the park is. I reach a point where the path is blocked. Some people walk through the moat where the water is low but I take the gate through the construction. My sneakers can’t grip the cobble stones.
I go through another gate and follow the wall back. I’m to turn left to walk pass a temple but never find it. It was probably an alleyway. I’m surprised to see the wall is made of dirt here. I guess the bricks were added in renovation. Locals live in this section. Some stare wondering what a westerner is doing here. The area is run down.
I stop to get breakfast from this lady. There are people waiting as she makes they fresh. I get one with scallions and another with spicy eggplant.
I walk back to the hostel to collect my backpack and meet the American for lunch. We wanted to have hot pot from a restaurant we read about but apparently they changed locations. We’re pointed towards another restaurant and it was good too. Chinese people know how to make eggplant.
We part ways. I’m walking to the bus stop to get to the train station. It’s a high speed train and I can’t wait to get to the next hostel. I ask a woman at the bus stop if this is the right bus. She’s going to the train station too so I just follow her.
Views from the train:
The wifi wasn’t working well this morning so I get from the train station to the hostel based on the directions they supplied. They were spot on and am grateful to have picked a spot near the metro.
I could not wait to take a hot shower. I’m glad no one is around to see or smell how gross I feel. When I get back to my room I meet my roommates. They all speak Chinese but used all the English they know. When communication fails, we use google translate.
Two things set them off– traveling alone and speaking no Chinese. They swoop in, inviting me to dinner and to the museum tomorrow morning. I’ll refer to these three kind ladies as mother and older sisters.
Mother likes to keep me within reach. She’ll gesture or pull me closer when we’re out. When crossing the street, she’ll hold my arm to be sure I’m not hit by a moped. She doesn’t speak a lot of English but she tries very hard. Older sisters know more English but our conversations are slow.
I ask if there’s a restaurant nearby to have dinner. They suggest KFC and McDonald’s. It’s too early in the trip for such things. They ask if Chinese is okay. YES.
I follow them out and awkwardly share an umbrella as it starts to rain. I let them order and we share two soups and a spicy sandwich. The one soup is paomo, specialty of the area. Reminds me of mom’s mushroom soup.