Friday, September 13, 2013

Pingyao, China

One last stop before going to Beijing. I was spending a night in the ancient city of Pingyao. I had spent another 10 hours overnight on the train and was ecstatic to see my name on a sign at the train station. Is there anything better than a free ride when you were not expecting it? I arrived in the ancient city and was greeted by the happiest and most friendly face in town.

Mocha greeting guests at the hostel

Yes, a beautiful golden retriever named Mocha. I have missed dogs and this one quickly became my buddy. He loved to sit by my feet as I gave him a good belly rub. I quickly earned his love and he follow me around the hostel. I needed the comfort as I had gotten another message that my credit card had been discontinued due to expected fraudulent charges. Ugh! I appreciate the notifications but why can't they follow the directions in my file. I wasted the next 5 hours trying to get in contact with the company. The landlines were down in Pingyao and I was told they had been for a few days. I asked where I could make a secured call and was sent into the new city. I quickly realized nobody had any idea how to make an international call. I returned to the hostel and finally had to Skype my mother and have her call the credit card company on speaker phone. All was eventually resolved and they were all charges I had made as I was trying to book travel to Bali and Turkey. Afterwards, it was dinner time and I was ready to call it a day. I am starting to get really exhausted and need a little rest.
Over dinner,  I decided my time in Pingyao was going to be relaxing. I was just going to wander the city and enjoy it. No official tours. As I was sitting and enjoying this decision, I met a woman and her nephew, Oscar. We talked and they practiced their English. Oscar asked me if I would help him with his English homework. I am not sure why he thought he needed help. He understood perfectly.Oscar was very timid about speaking English which is something I have noticed with many of the Chinese. I encouraged him and by the time we said goodbye, he was more confident.

Oscar and Aunt Lilly
I retired to my room and slept. I was so tired and ready to just relax. The next morning I was sore from a hard bed and starting to catch a cold. All the travel on the smoke filled trains and cold air conditioning was getting the better of me. I walked around town and enjoyed the quaint village sights.

This was a town with bicycles and grass growing on the roofs. I loved the old bricks and the tiled roofs.

All of the tiled roofs had interesting end tiles.

As I wandered, the work of the locals caught my eye.
The men were transferring bricks to the roof by throwing them up. A simple toss and catch. I was amazed with the skill they had. I stood and watched and never saw them drop or brake a brick.

I also noticed the sign at this food vendor.
Yep, vanilla meat. Huh? I guessed it was white meat and just a little lost in translation but who knows. I skipped trying it. I have stuck vegetarian since my last bit of stomach issues. 

I also came across a scene I had been trying to get a photo of for a couple of weeks. Yes, the children wear pants with a slit up the crotch. No diapers. They go as needed and wherever the are at the time. I actually saw this on the train one night. It crossed a line for this western girl. Thankfully, a guy said something to the parents and made them clean the poop off the center of the train floor.

Pingyao potty time.
I went to have lunch and ran into my friends Oscar and Aunt Lilly. We chatted and she noticed my cough. She suggested I have acupuncture and cupping done before I leave on the train. As we sat there talking she insisted I see her girl. She called and made an appointment and pulled me down the street. She told me this was her thank you for helping Oscar with his English. Ok. I decided to give it a try. I entered the room and they started with the acupuncture. I noticed immediately that my sinuses were clear and she handed me a few ampules of a Chinese traditional medicine to try for my cough. I popped the top of the first one and took a swig. What the hell?!?!  OMG! Whoa! I don't know what I took but it was strong. My eyes started to water and my sinuses were clear. No coughing. Hmmm. I have a couple more but the taste was awful. Next a woman came in with glass bell shaped jars and had me lie on my stomach. She placed several of these on my back and suctioned the jars to my back. Supposedly, this mobilizes the blood flow to promote healing. It felt tight but was not painful. 
After they were removed I had huge red bruises. I did not realize these would last a few days. Oh well. It was an experience. I was not sure it worked but my sinuses were feeling much better after the acupuncture so I was happy.
Goodbye and goodnight Pingyao!
I said my goodbyes and thank you to Aunt Lilly and Oscar and headed back to the hostel to get my bags. It was evening and I needed to catch the overnight train to Beijing.

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