It dawned grey but much cooler which was nice because we wanted to wander the streets of Pingyau, the town where are staying. The main thoroughfares are lined with shops and restaurants all jauntily adorned with red lanterns. Many of the restaurants open on to large, often very attractive
courtyards at the rear.
Our accommodation is in a courtyard just behind the Split Noodle restaurant on The Cheng Huang Temple Street. The restaurant has a large Chinese following and it is often filled with noisy Chinese enjoying what seems to be one of their favourite pastimes – eating. This seems to occur at all times of the day!
We picked up our breakfast, a stuffed pancake being cooked and served by a smiley couple operating at the entrance to a side street just along from where we are staying. Munching happily, we wandered along watching people setting up their wares along the side of the road on the steps to the shops. We stopped for a drink at a cafe just before a group of musicians started up some very discordant music. This subsequently turned out to be a prelude to the funeral we were to see later in the day. I think it was equally hard on the ears of the local people as we saw passers by with fingers in their ears, ear phones on and rushing past to avoid the noise. It was grim and made for a less than restful coffee stop!
Moving on we chose not to walk towards the south gate on the top of the wall but instead walked inside the city wall from the west gate to the north gate. This was obviously a local residential area with much narrower streets running at right angles to the wall. The traffic comprised mainly of mopeds or bicycles often towing trailers, cycle rickshaws and golf buggies ferrying Chinese tourists to and from the wall. There are a lot of stray dogs. These all look the same and very unlike the posh, pampered varieties that are carried along the main streets or sit on guard outside shops.
We eventually returned to base for a rest and then set out again to find the ATM, when it started to rain. As we hurried back again having been rejected by the ATM, umbrellas suddenly appeared for sale on the stalls and there was lots of activity as goods were covered with a variety of protective materials. At that point the music experienced earlier could be heard coming towards us as a funeral procession came into view. It was quite a parade with a number of trucks and vans carrying similar large wreaths to those we saw yesterday, then several cars, then the musicians, then mourners on foot and then an elaborate bier on the top of long red poles carried ceremonially along on the shoulders of a large number of men jogging at a fair pace. It was quite a sight.
It rained for some time, stopping only after we set out for the street food market outside the wall in our wet weather gear. Undaunted, if a little hot, we continued to the market stopping off for a beer with chums from the ‘naughty boy’ section of our fellow travellers on the way.
We eventually found our way to the street food and had some very cheap but tasty dishes.
This is our last night in Pingyao. Tomorrow it’s a a ‘home stay’. On enquiring whether we needed to take our towels we were told not to bother as there are no showers……. I guess it’s down to the wipes then.