The Road to Everest

Great Tour of China Day 3
May 5, 2006,

Friday 28 April 2006
Wutaishan - Pingyao

After an early start, some decided further to explore Wutaishan¡¯s magnificent monasteries and temples. Meanwhile, others headed out to a fantastic twisty mountain road, climbing and then descending through some wonderful alpine scenery. Along the valley floor we passed through small but bustling villages and a busy industrial town before stopping for lunch at Xinzhou.

From here we headed out on the Expressway, via Taiyun, to Pingyao. We arrived at this splendid UNESCO World Heritage site early so that we had plenty of time to explore its beautiful streets and alleyways.
Pingyao City Wall

Pingyao is a traditional Han Chinese city that dates back to 1,200AD, and which is entirely surrounded by an intact city wall. The wall was originally erected in the Zhou dynasty (827-728 BC), but, as ever during a Chinese regime change, was totally rebuilt come the Ming period. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Pingyao was a thriving merchant town. It was here that the earliest ¡®tongs¡¯ (banks) were set up, with Pingyao being the centre of finance for all of China during the Qing period.

Wandering around Pingyao felt like being in a time warp, as we browsed book, artisan and antique shops housed in buildings straight out of a Zhang Yimou movie. We then ascended the central town building, which allowed us a superb view over the sloping, ornamented tile roofs of the town.

We ended our tour by sipping on a cup of refreshing green tea and practicing our pidgin Chinese in a quaint traditional inn, where we were made to feel extremely welcome.

Bob and Thelma Howells in Pingyao

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Day 30: Thursday 25 May 2006
Zhaoqing – Splendid China, Shenzhen

On this our final day of the Great Tour of China 2006, we made a short journey mainly on expressway from Zhaoqing to the Splendid China Cultural Park in Shenzhen for the ceremonial finish.

May 26, 2006
Day 29: Wednesday 24 May 2006
Guilin - Zhaoqing

We left Gulin on smooth fast roads with wonderful views of the ‘eggbox’ type hills. These are hills of limestone which have eroded into shape over centuries covered in native vegetation and resembling very large teeth.

May 25, 2006
Day 28: Tuesday 23 May 2006
Kaili - Guilin

The agenda today was another long driving day to Guilin along a mixture of road surfaces: smooth main roads, bumpy secondary roads and some roads still under construction.

May 24, 2006
Day 27: Monday 22 May 2006
Huangguoshu Falls - Kaili

Before negotiating another day on the road, everyone spent a couple of hours today visiting China’s most scenic falls at Huangguoshu. Set against lush, local vegetation, the falls make up in beauty for what they lack in size.

May 23, 2006
Day 26: Sunday 21 May 2006
Kunming – Huangguoshu Falls

This morning we took the northern road from Kunming on a mix of main highway, dual carriageway and back roads. The first town we passed through was Quiyang en route to Honggu, a large town with coal mining and steel production as it’s main industries.

May 23, 2006