Walls crumble. Archways lean unnaturally. Buildings appear to crack. Wooden doors creak.
Alleyways meander between tiled residences, temples and shops, criss-crossing main streets; packed with people. Old ways carry on.
Red lanterns swing to-and-fro in the flitting and fleeting autumnal breeze. Bikes wind in-and-out of passing tourists, wandering citizens. Trees sway from the gentle caress of the wind.
Imposing – intact – city walls gaze over each person, every place.
This is Pingyao.
The best preserved walled city in all of China. It is the China you think about when you think… China. It is the China the tourist posters want to tell you. It is the China of the movies.
It is a jewel in a too-quickly developing country. But don’t come in late September. It rains.
Gazing through rain that pitter-patters on the window. Running like streams off tile roofs.
Braving the rain, walking the walls…
… And finding respite in temples.
Pingyao is the China I thought about – so many months ago – when we knew we were coming to Asia. It has captivated us, and yet the rain has compelled us to leave.