Rich and I had wanted to go to shanghai or Chen to see the terracotta warriors. unfortunately we didnt realize we waited to long and couldnt get the overnight train tickets we wanted unless we sat on hard plastic bench seats over night. Everyone told us it was NOT worth it and told horror stories about the train... which I would soon understand a bit more. People also said shanghai was not that great but was just a city with some fun buildings to look at. I was so disappointed because I wanted to travel more. I really wanted to go to chen and see the warriors and they had a panda reserve you could go to and take pictures with pandas. Emma and lee had run into the same problem with getting to Chen on the train. We were all trying to figure out what to do when someone suggested a little ancient city that not too many people go to called Pingyao. There was a hostel there in the city we could stay at so we all decided to travel there together on the train (about 6-7 hours of travel) and spend two nights there together.
We all left the hostel at 6 am and walked to the subway with our huge packs and went to the train station. we got very good at traveling without understanding the language. Traveling is not quite as organized as it is in the states. You sort of have to roll with the punches and be flexible and just trust that you will get there eventually and it will work out. For someone who is type A personality I think they might have had a heart attack. We somehow found the train station and got to our terminal without much trouble.
The train ride was 3 1/2 hours long and left at 7 am. We were all exhausted and were trying to sleep but sleep did NOT happen. There are no words for the buss experience. I cant adequately describe how irritating it was. I swear they synchronized their cell phones to go off every 3 minutes exactly and they have the loudest most irritating variety of cell phone rings. They basically sound like an array of alarm clock noises. The man behind Emma and I talked on the phone every 15 minutes with a new person and had the most bellowing loud voice I have ever heard. The man sitting behind the cell phone man was watching a movie on his lap top. He had ear phones draped over his shoulders but chose not to use them. instead he played is sward fighting action movie as loud as it could on on his lap top for all to hear. Rich put his head down on the little table in front of him and the people sitting next to him took picture after picture after picture of him on their cell phone. The woman would just take pictures and then lean over and show her husband. It was hilarious and I started taking pictures of them taking pictures of rich to see if it would make them stop. They just looked at me strangely and kept taking pictures of him. The man also was chewing his gum so loud it woke rich up a few times haha. It was like irritating thing after irritating thing just kept piling on top of each other as you were deliriously tired and praying for sleep. It was im sure, comparable to chineese water torture. It just gets to you after a while and you start to go crazy.
We finally got to tiyuan where we yet again miraculously found our way to a bus station using chineese dictionary's and travel guides and took a 3 hour bus ride the rest of the way to pingyao. We got there around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and the hostel picked us up at the bus station. I was surprised the provided transportation until I realized its because cars cant really get into the city very well. we were picked up on a little motorcycle cart and piled on with all our luggage. It was quite the adventure. As soon as we got to the city gates I knew it had all been worth the crazy drive though. It was the cutest, most amazing little city i have ever seen and I instantly fell in love. It was like being taken into the past and into another world. I cant even describe it but it was beautiful. I dont know what I had expected but It wasnt what I got. I seriously kept being blown away by how much more amazing everything was than I had ever imagined. Our hostel, the Yamen Hostel, was litterally inside the city walls and was this ancient little building with the most beautiful little court yard. It was not very clean, we had a bag of rice for a pillow, you may have been able to contract diseases from the showers and they didnt turn on the water until 8 am (at which point you were lucky if you got a minuet of hot water in your shower) but in spite of all of that it was incredible. I would stay again in a second. You cant really expect to stay in an ancient city that only got electricity a few years ago and be clean. I was thankful to have a shower at all. I got woken up by little chineese men riding their bikes in the street at 6 am and Instead of being mad I just smiled and went back to sleep. It was like a magic little chineese city. The first day we just walked around, looked in little shops, ate some dinner, sat on the porch of our hostel, had a drink and then went to bed.