We get off the train. It is foggy and rainy. We find our way out of the platform and have barely time to put our rain jackets before the man in charge rushes us out—the station is closing? Once out, we take some seconds to examine the view in front of us until we look to each other. What’s this? Where the hell are we?
The high speed railway station of Pingyao is some kilometers away from Pingyao itself. A future park around the station presents itself as a lot of mud covered with construction materials and machines. We see a few taxis down there in the mud and venture to take one of the last ones. Our hostel is inside Pingyao walls and looks like a traditional Chinese house. It looks very nice.
Pingyao is a very nice walled city with traditional Chinese houses, temples and even a catholic church. Everything is very touristy though and the main streets inside the walls are full of souvenir stores and local food restaurants.
We have to stay an additional night here since there are no train tickets to Xian—trains in China are gone quickly—so we decide to visit Mianshan with a taxi organized by our hostel.
Mianshan is located an hour away from Pingyao. The trip shows us how scary Chinese people drive here. The roads are paved with holes here and there and have no painting. The number of lanes varies according to the situation. Normally there are two lanes, but if you pass a truck that is passing another truck and there is a third truck coming in the opposite direction, then there are suddenly four lanes—with the proper amount of honking. Talking about trucks, it is noticeably full of red trucks here, apparently carrying coal and other things. The last day in Pingyao I will record a video going to the muddy train station where you can see what I’m talking about.
When we start visiting Mianshan it turns out to be an unexpected surprise since it is not even mentioned in our guidebook. It is a mountain full of Taoist temples built up in the steep hills, sometimes carved in the rocks. There is an intense fog during our visit giving some of the places a very mystic aura.
There are also some crazy paths that cross small lakes, climb through vertical walls and get lost inside gorges leading somewhere. We do not dare climbing the scary ones since it is wet, cold and slippery but we manage to make some touristy pictures.
It is true that the entrance to the place might be too much and some of the stops in Mianshan are touristy and not worth the time, but the temples and mountain paths are amazing. Our favorite place will be a temple inside a gorge with a very relaxed and misty atmosphere.