Pingyao (平遥) – Ancient World Heritage City

Some like it young

Some like it old

Others like the new & modern

And still others like the classic & ancient.

To each one of us preference is personal

For each selected choice appreciation is eternal.

 

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Pingyao, an ancient city dating back 2700 years, was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage site list in 1997. It is one of the 4 most well preserved ancient city / town in China. The others being LiJiang 丽江in Yunnan, Yangshuo 阳朔in Guangxi and Weizhou 微洲in Anhui. Pingyao boast a most complete and well maintained city wall.

In its hey days during the Qing Dynasty of the 1800s, this was also known as the “Wall Street” of China. Banking has its roots here in Pingyao. In fact, Pingyao spawned the famous term “汇通天下literally meaning….Remittance across all borders. Yes, what we are now familiar with of Bank Drafts, Electronic TT and in this cyberspace age of “Internet Banking” to a great extent has its roots in Pingyao…..

The city walls and gates of Pingyao are laid out in the shape of a turtle, the traditional Chinese symbol for longevity, though you’re more able to see the similarly shaped battlements as you explore the ancient banking capital’s interior and old town. Full of temples, traditional architecture and watchtowers, you’ll be enthralled with the town’s medieval history and feel. If you’re as keen as Pingyao’s founders on living a long time, perhaps you can benefit from Chinese tradition; find a store or dispensary that sells herbs and extracts for health and long life. Such shops in Pingyao, like elsewhere in China, are stuffed with extracts of ginseng, ma huang, gingko biloba and all manner of other natural products claiming to benefit longevity and virility. Or perhaps have a local meal chock-a-block with garlic – another magic ingredient with medicinal benefits. (Gecko’s)

Increases in tourism have put pressure on the ancient walled city of Pingyao. During the tourist high-season, the amount of visitors to the city can reach up to 3 times its maximum capacity per day.

Since 2007, non-profit organizationGlobal Heritage Fund (GHF) has been working with the Pingyao County Government to protect the city against various problems such as mass tourism and uncontrolled development. GHF’s stated goal for the project is to better preserve the cultural heritage of Pingyao ancient city in more comprehensive and systematic approaches as part of an integrated planning, conservation and development program. The Pingyao Cultural Heritage Development Program aims to preserve the vernacular architecture, revitalize and stimulate the traditional arts and establish special historic areas. (Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Yunnan – “The Southern Clouds” in China

By P Chong

23 Feb. 2011

 

Stone Forest, Kunming

Yunnan is endlessly a place of fascination

Surpassing many well-trodden places

To delight the hearts & souls

With hills & valleys away from shores

With rivers & streams gurglingly flow

Through its streets both new & old

Beneath its natural clear blue sky

From its distant snow-capped mountains

To the lakes & canals of its cities & towns.

 

Yunnan - Tourist Map

Though occupying only about 4.1% of China‘s landmass, it contains 25 different ethnic minorities reflecting the most culturally diverse province in China & the national realm of harmonious living in unity in diversities.

From the UNESCO listed Stone Forest of Kunming, the Capital of Yunnan, an unique karst topography, depicting the concrete jungle of modern metropolitan China to the age-old towns of Dali or Lijiang, the traveller can feel the pulse of China’s economic surge while being reminded of a land unsurpassed in history & culture.

Electric Tourist Cart for Rounding Stone Forest. Entrance: Seniors FREE.

This plateau land in the south-west corner of China beckons to you, one & all, though for the seniors, I would suggest that you’re fit to truly enjoy the many natural spots of interests, without having to worry about aching feet or weary & painful backs. The are certainly lots of cobble-stone roads to trudge, laborious steps & stairs to ascend or descend, jostling crowds to mingle with . . . ceaseless streets with surprising turns of fun & joy.

Dali Against Its Snow-Capped Moutain (Cangshan)
Erhai Lake, Dali
City Wall & Tourist Taxi Van

For the ‘shopperholics’, the narrow streets are lined with quaint little shops filled with leather goods of sorts, souvenirs both old & new, clothing, jade, silverware & porcelain ware. The atmosphere is one of festivities, colours everywhere with red as the dominant choice for prosperity & good fortune.

Street Scene

The crowd is predominantly young. I would say 99% of them with a sprinkle of senior members & foreigners. Thousands of these tourists are Chinese nationals. This is such a prominent feature everywhere you turn . . . young & vibrant, mobile, modern tech population group with time to spare & money to spend. Virtually everyone, male or female alike, is equipped with the mobile phone, the popular iPhone or other smart phones.

Both Dali & Lijiang have preserved their ancient enclosed or walled townships where visitors & tourists are encouraged to stay rather than in their developed new areas and experience of a life of an era gone by.

 

Local Snack Food Galore


 

 

 

 

 

Town Square - Cobble-Stone
Stone Forest, Kunming