Two days in Pingyao

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One weekend, with a friend I took the fast train from Beijing over to Shanxi Province to spend two days in Pingyao which is located approximately 715 kilometres southwest of Beijing.  The train arrives into the provincial capital, Taiyuan and we were picked up by our tour guide to drive approximately 80 kms to Pingyao.

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During the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was a financial centre of China. The ancient city, whose history dates back some 2,700 years is renowned for its well-preserved city walls.  Pingyao is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist attraction and still inhabited by some 50,000 residents.

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Our first stop was the Qiao Family Residence which is famous for being the chief location for the movie ‘Raise the Red Lantern’.  The Residence covers 9000 square metres and comprises 313 rooms, six large courtyards and nineteen smaller courtyards.

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Our next stop was Zhenguo Temple which is a Buddhist temple with it’s oldest hall build in 963 during the Northern Han Dynasty.  The old hall is notable for featuring very large brackets that hold up the roof and flying eaves.   The sculptures inside the hall are among the only examples of 10th century Buddhist sculpture in China.

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The Temple is located 10 km from Pingyao in the village of Hadongcun.

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We then travelled to our beautiful hotel (Yide Hotel – http://www.yide-hotel.com).  The hotel is a beautifully restored courtyard home built in 1736 by a wealthy merchant during the reign of Emperor Qianong and the refurbishments have kept in line with the original home.

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That evening and the following day we took a walk in the ancient walled city of Pingyao which was particularly beautiful at night.

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I also walked part of the Wall that surrounds the ancient city which afforded me the opportunity to view the rooftops of all the shops and courtyard homes in the city.  Then around lunch time back onto the fast train back to Beijing.

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