Breakfast at the hostel is nothing special. I go for toast– Texas toast– because it’s been so long since I’ve had butter. Really I just want butter. I sample two jams– blueberry and kiwi.
I talk with my trail companions. One is leaving China this afternoon and the other is catching a show. I linger talking with the one who’s leaving about working and traveling.
For the afternoon I want to check out this other old town that they were talking about. Unlike Lijiang’s old town, there’s no entrance fee. I ask the receptionist for directions. He tells me to get there I should take Bus A, then transfer to Bus A. The other Bus A. To come back I should take Bus B. Okay.
I wait for awhile for Bus A to appear. So long that I have time to buy an ice pop. No mango unfortunately. Sigh. The bus is here and it’s very crowded. The bus pulls over at the gas station to fill up. Okay.
I take it to the end, at a tourist attraction parking lot as the hostel said and ask the bus drive about the other Bus A. He points over by the gate. I assume he means that it stops over on the road. I walk over to a shady spot to wait. An older woman approaches me, questioning my presence. I show her where I want to go and the bus I’m waiting for. She signs the letter A on her palm and gestures that the bus arrives in the parking lot.
I’m annoyed because the characters for both buses don’t match what I was given. Bus A arrives but it’s not the right one. Bus driver tells me I need letter ‘A’ which his bus also displays. The next Bus A is the right one and we’re off.
I make it to the old village. It’s very much a tourist attraction but it has its charm. This is what I thought Pingyao would be like. I wander along the streets not really sure where I’m going. I see people dressed up for photos. I think wedding photos but maybe they are just dress up services for tourist. China likes those.
I see something frying at one stand. It looks like noodles. Later at another stand I see an old woman grating potatoes… Oh my, fried potatoes! Yes, please! I forget potatoes are a thing here. She sprinkles on some spicy seasoning that I like more every time I eat it. So good!
I keep walking, people watching and looking at shops. I see one with handmade dolls of the Bai or other local people. They’re so cute! I get a mini version to hang on the Christmas tree.
It’s getting late and I don’t know the bus schedule so I head back to the bus stop. There’s other people waiting too. Bus A comes around but I’m looking for B. Bus B arrives but the driver tells me I need Bus A. The wrong Bus A arrives and I’m waiting again…
The right Bus A comes by and I push my way on. The bus isn’t going quite the same way but google maps is within range for me to get off at the right spot. I stop by the hostel but my friends have eaten already.
I freshen up and walk over to ‘food street’. I was expecting food stands but it’s just restaurants mainly hot pot. On my way there I passed a bunch of places that grill stuff. I know what to do now so I grab a tray and load up on vegetables. So good! And that spice is here again. Yum.