China: Pingyao’s Ancient Streets

Our second stop on the trip… Pingyao! We arrived on a high speed train from Beijing West on Saturday evening. The train took about four hours and passed through some very interesting landscapes. Some unbelievably pretty, others filled with high rises, factories and pollution.

Pingyao is an ancient city steeped in Ming and Ding dynasty history. It is surrounded by a city wall and has many temples, but for me Pingyao’s highlight has to be it’s streets.

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Bustling with Chinese tourists, Pingyao’s streets are occupied with restaurants, street food stalls and souvenir shops. The smell of soy sauce fills the air as every other corner hosts a soy bean fermenting shop.

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The place is such a contrast to Beijing. People were friendly and welcoming, definitely up for a laugh.

So far in China food and drink, travel and accommodation has been relatively cheap. Sometimes similar in comparison to the UK, but other times a bit cheaper. However what struck me here was how cheap souvenirs were.

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For instance, I saw a really nice gingham oriental style shirt. When I took a closer look I noticed the price tag, 10 yuan. That’s just over £1! Whoever made that shirt clearly isn’t being paid enough and it made me think of some of the towns we passed on the train. Lots of horrible looking high rises and factories, what sort of conditions was the person who made that shirt working and living in?

As we’re travelling for a long time, we wouldn’t really be buying souvenirs as we can’t carry them all and are on a budget. However considering the price and how souvenirs are made should always be at the forefront if you want to travel sustainably. If you do want to buy souvenirs, look for artisan markets and shops where you can see who made them and always be willing to pay a fair price.

We’ve just arrived in Xi’an by train. Again, if you have any suggestions on what to do here, please let me know!

Ciao xxx

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