I arrived at the station fully prepared for the mosh pit at security. I get in line and the attendant looks disgusted with her job or me. Both perhaps. There’s no shoving as most of the people are already inside. I get on line.
An attendant randomly comes by to punch tickets. Crowd moves in so I go for it. The gates are open! It’s like a flood, dam bursting and I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity. After all that the stampede stalls as the platform is still closed.
It’s open and the maddess continues. I’m grateful for my backpack because I don’t know how to do that with rolling luggage. I get on the dark train. Someone else searching for the numbers shows the way. I find my bed, top shelf. I put my pack on the high rack and try to figure out how to climb up and roll out the blanket. Almost strain my neck. I feel there are some amused Chinese people below.
I get settled and do my best to sleep. At 6am the train is almost at the station. The lighting outside is low with a soft fog. There are fields, farms and occasional factory.
Pingyao is quiet. Children are on there way to school. Other people are starting up. The city is covered in a layer of dust and dirt. The sun hangs low with a pinkish glow.
After checking in, I’m off to explore and find lunch!
The region is known for its noodles. I find a place from a blog. Apparently you should avoid eating within the city walls. It’s not far but I manage to miss the place twice. I settle in and end up showing a photo of what I want. I get and noodles and eggplant. I wanted eggplant but ended up with chicken. Eh. The noodles were difficult to eat. There must be a trick to pulling it apart but I don’t figure it out.
I roam the streets and the moment you step outside the handful of tourist streets, it gets real. People live here and the homes are well worn. It’s strange juxtaposition. I saw some of it in Beijing but there’s been some renovations also some of it is hidden behind well maintained doorways. I’m not entirely surprised but the descriptions I’ve read about Pingyao don’t match up.
Maybe I’m moving through to fast but can’t wait to be in a more rural area if only for the scenery.