Archive for the ‘Shanxi Travel’ Category

Pingyao, Bring you 2700 Years Back

Sunday, July 12th, 2015
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While you are planning either Beijing tour or Xian tour, the two highlights sought after by most of the oversea first-time visitors coming to China, one gem you should not miss, which lies between Beijing (610km to the southwest of Beijing) and Xian (543km to the northeast of Xian) – that’s the ancient city of Pingyao (平遥古城), the most well-preserved ancient city in China. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997, including the outlying Zhenguo Temple and Shuanglin Temple.

The original city construction of Pingyao goes back to Xuanwang in Xizhou Dynasty (827 BC – 782 BC). The present ancient city wall was built during the 3rd year of Hongwu in Ming Dynasty (1370). The ancient city of Pingyao retains the basic layout of a county-level city in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), the most well-preserved ancient city built by Han people.

In the late Qing Dynasty (1644 -1911), Pingyao became the financial center of China. There were as many as over 20 financial institutions (Exchange Shops) within the city, making up more than half of total in the whole China. Rishengchang was founded in Qing Dynasty(1824) and well known as the first bank in China, the birthplace of China’s “Wall Street”.

You may be disappointed at the fast pace of urban and rural developments in China. Much of the rural areas have been urbanized with the rapid decrease of arable land; urban areas have been overdeveloped with high-rises booming and influx of rural migrants. Today’s China is probably a world of difference from what you expect. Pingyao is one of the few places where you are able to see, feel and touch the real and authentic China in the past, thus allowing you to understand the present and modern China.

Pingyao is now accessible by high speed trains coming either from Beijing and Xian, making it a hot destination lying between Beijing and Xian. The regional capital city of Taiyuan, 80km north of Pingyao, is a good springboard for those who have a Pingyao tour since Taiyuan is a transportation hub in Shanxi Province.

There are still over 4,000 Ming- and Qing-style residences remaining in the old city. The main streets are rife with storefronts which still largely retain their historical appearance. Strolling along the old streets and looking for a souvenir is feeling like going along the time passage, like paper cuts, shoe soles, combs, and the list could be much longer. If you are a curio expert, maybe you can encounter a “real antique”.

A Paper Cut Vendor

A Paper Cut Vendor

A Paper Cut Vendor

Slab and stone paved streets lined with wooden houses selling numerous souvenirs.

Slab and stone paved streets lined with traditional houses

Slab and stone paved streets lined with traditional houses

Walking along the old streets, you may meet some stuff you like.

Walking along the old streets, you may meet some stuff you like.

Walking along the old streets, you may meet some stuff you like.

Pingyao has a myriad snacks with over 300 kinds of flour-made food. The beef in Pingyao is a big draw, a must-buy local product in Pingyao.

A roadside vegetable vendor

A roadside vegetable vendor

A roadside vegetable vendor

The Ancient City of Ping Yao went through 25 renovations and reconstructions in Ming and Qing dynasties. Now the city wall is square in shape with a perimeter of 6162.7 meters, a height of 10 meters, battlements 2 meters high, 3-5 meters wide on the wall top.

Pingyao Ancient City is favored by foreign tourists who come here to see the real China.

Pingyao Ancient City is favored by foreign tourists who come here to see the real China.

Pingyao Ancient City is favored by foreign tourists who come here to see the real China.

There are 3000 battlements built on the city wall top with 72 watch towers.

There are 3000 battlements built on the city wall top with 72 watch towers.

There are 3000 battlements built on the city wall top with 72 watch towers.

In 1824, Rishengchang, the first China bank was established here in Pingyao. In the late Qing Dynasty (1644 -1911), Pingyao became the financial center of China. There were as many as over 20 financial institutions (Exchange Shops) within the city, making up more than half of total in the whole China.

The through ticket allows you to visit over 20 paid sights inside the ancient Pingyao city including temples, pawns, old bodyguard offices, County Government Office and more.

 

After dark, Pingyao is transformed into a quiet and pretty wonderland

After dark, Pingyao is transformed into a quiet and pretty wonderland

After dark, Pingyao is transformed into a quiet and pretty wonderland

The ancient city at night is a perfect hangout, teemed with bars and pubs.

The ancient city at night is a perfect hangout, teemed with bars and pubs.

The ancient city at night is a perfect hangout, teemed with bars and pubs.

Any questions, just drop a line.

Shoukoubu Fortress

Monday, October 27th, 2014
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Shoukoubu Fortress was once one of an essential fort along the Ming-era Datong Great Wall.  “Shoukoubu” literally means “Defending the Ravine Fort”.  Here there is a valley or ravine in the mountain, a mountainous corridor connecting the Inner Mongolia and Datong ( Shanxi). The ravine was an vulnerable area easy for an access by the nomad warlords in Ming Dynasty, hence the fort built in 1546 with tamed earth and later with bricks and stones in 1572.  The valley or the pass divides the wall here into the east section and west section.

A stream is winding through the ravine from north to south and the fort is located just on the west of the stream. Today the same name village – Shoukoubu Village is within the dilapidated castle. Parts of the ramparts around the fort are still visible.

The whole fortress or the local village is perched on the west valley surrounded by mountains almost  in  three sides.  We have to give up the idea of taking sunset or sunrise pictures due to the high mountains blocking the sun and.

On the west section of the Wall on the steep hillside, the rammed wall feels hard and firm, going up along the rugged mountain. Eroded by the rain and blasted by rain, the wall appears like undulating saw-teeth perched on the steep slope.

Standing on the west side of the valley with the section of the hard yellow earth wall running down to the bottom of the valley, have a panorama of the fortress ( or the village), the wall broken at the mouth of the valley and the east section of the Wall, better understanding the name of the fortress – Shoukoubu ( Defending the valley Castle ).

Looking at the east direction, you will see the guide-towers and beacon-towers are scattered around the mountain in the east side in a far distant mist with the backdrop of the autumn apricot trees and the courtyards in the village.

Here you can find some round beacon towers perched on the west slopes of the mountain rarely seen in Beijing.
Shoukoubu Village is perched  the west side of the stream in the valley.

Shoukoubu Village is perched  the west side of the stream in the valley.

Shoukoubu Village is perched the west side of the stream in the valley.

Small bits of the original ramparts can still be seen in the northeast corner of the village.

Small bits of the original ramparts

Small bits of the original ramparts

The east and west sections of the Wall guided the ravine or the valley, an easy access linking the Inner Mongolia in the north and Datong in  the south.  By the south of the wall is the former old Shoukoubu Fortress.

The east and west sections of the Wall guided the ravine or the valley

The east and west sections of the rammed earth Wall guided the ravine or the valley

If you stand on the high hillside of the west of the valley, you can have a clear picture of the village and the east section of the earth wall.

a clear picture of the village and the east section of the earth wall.

a clear picture of the village and the east section of the earth wall.

The west section of the earth wall winds steeply down to the valley from the hill.

The west section of the earth wall

The west section of the earth wall

 

The round beacon towers seldom seen in Beijing are quite popular along the earth wall in Datong. You see the two high round earth beacon towers atop the hills looming over the castle and village.

The round beacon towers

The round beacon towers

The beautiful autumn view of the east section of the earth Great Wall.

The beautiful autumn view of the east section of the earth Great Wal

The beautiful autumn view of the east section of the earth Great Wall

A lonely beacon tower stands on the hill near the east section of the earth wall.

A lonely beacon tower stands on the hill

A lonely beacon tower stands on the hill

A  broken rampart with the autumn hues

A  broken rampart with the autumn hues

A broken rampart with the autumn hues

Any questions, just drop a line.

Zhenbianbu Fortress

Sunday, October 26th, 2014
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Zhenbianbu Fortress was one of the five most important forts along Datong Outer Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty ( 1368-1644). The fort was originally built with earth walls in 1539 during the reign of Jiajing Emperor in Ming Dynasty. In 1583 the earth walls surrounding Zhenbianbu Fortress was reconstructed with bricks and stones.

The walled garrison city is  rectangle in shape, 312 meters long from north to south and 312 meters wide from east to west with a perimeter of 1054 meters. The wall is generally 5 meters high and 3.3 meters wide on the wall top.

The exterior bricks and stones on the city wall have almost been taken away by the local villagers for building their houses. Today the same name village – Zhenbian Village is located inside the fort.  There are over 3 hundred  households with over 1000 villages.

The north city wall of the fort is now better preserved than other three sides. Many of the walls have collapsed or vanished. Recently the local tourism administration has invested in the restoration of the old fortress, attracting tourists to come here in a hope for developing the village economy and upgrading the life quality her. So it is better to visit here at an early date before the old for become too touristy.

The east city wall of Zhenbianbu Fortress

The east city wall of Zhenbianbu Fortress

The east city wall of Zhenbianbu Fortress

The wall at the northeast corner of Zhenbianbu Fortress

The wall at the northeast corner of Zhenbianbu Fortress

The wall at the northeast corner of Zhenbianbu Fortress

Standing on the east city wall and taking a picture of the village area along inside and outside the Wall

Standing on the east city wall

Standing on the east city wall

The dilapidated east gate coated with bricks and stones.

The dilapidated east gate coated with bricks and stones.

The dilapidated east gate coated with bricks and stones.

Autumn is the harvest time. We see the local villagers are busy doing their far word, threshing millet,corns and more.  The couple are threshing millet.

 The couple are threshing millet.

The couple are threshing millet.

One village’s family house

One village's house

One village’s house

Chatting with the local villagers

Chatting with the local villagers

Chatting with the local villagers

Threshing millet

Threshing millet

Threshing millet

Any question, just drop a line.