Pingyao plus Wutaishan? Datong?

Old Apr 9th, 2008, 06:56 AM
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Pingyao plus Wutaishan? Datong?

Hi, my family is meeting up with another family for a long weekend in Pingyao. Husbands afraid there isn't enough to do in Pingyao for a whole weekend so considering a day-trip to Wu Tai Shan or Datong. Anyone been there from Pingyao (or reverse)? Is it practical in one day? Better to spend one night? Any advice appreciated.
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Old Apr 9th, 2008, 07:44 AM
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It would be a rather long day.

On the other hand a long weekend in Pingyao does seem rather a lot. A day and a bit are enough to see the town. But then there are major mansions in the countryside round about well worth visiting, including the Qiao Jia Dayuan (where Zhang Yimou shot 'Raise the Red Lantern'), and the vast Wang Jia Dayuan, plus at least one other.

There are also some of China's most ancient surviving wooden buildings north of Taiyuan but well before you reach Wutai Shan at two temples off the main route.

In short, there's enough to keep you busy without trying to squeeze in Wutai Shan, too.

Peter N-H
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Old Apr 10th, 2008, 01:39 PM
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We are visiting my son in Beijing and would like to visit Pingyao. Do we have to travel by overnight train? Would we have to allow three nights? ie two on the train and one in Pingyao or can we do it in less time.
Can you suggest any nearer side trips from Beijing?
Thanks for your help
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Old Apr 10th, 2008, 01:58 PM
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Pingyao is 300 miles from Beijing as the crow flies. You can't get there quickly.

Closer to Beijing for a 2-day trip will be Datong or Chengde.
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Old Apr 10th, 2008, 10:23 PM
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Pingyao can be reached far more swiftly by bus than by train, and if you leave early in the morning from Beijing you can be there by mid-afternoon. It's about six hours to the provincial capital of Taiyuan, and then a further hour or so's minibus ride from there.

I'd agree on Chengde as an alternative. You can get there by bus in under four hours, and take a leisurely train back (it's a nice meandering line with a convenient afternoon departure getting you back to Beijing about 6pm).

Peter N-H
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Old Apr 15th, 2008, 04:59 PM
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Peter N-H, thanks for the info. Yes, we've decided to skip Wutaishan and enjoy a very leisurely Pingyao. You don't happen to know exactly where those wooden buildings are north of Taiyuan? That sounds interesting.
Sara
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Old Apr 15th, 2008, 07:25 PM
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This is an extract from a posting that recently appeared on The Oriental-List:

Two of only three Tang dynasty (618-907) wooden buildings still standing in China--Nanchan Si and Foguang Si--are located between Wutai Shan and Taiyuan. With 120km (75 miles) separating them, visiting both in 1 day is best done en route from one town to the other rather than as a day trip from either point. Since both are also well off the main road, they aren't on the regular bus route. Depending on the day of the week and the time of year, a taxi between Taiyuan and Taihuai Village that includes stops at both temples costs between Y200 and Y500. A day trip from Taihuai Village to both temples . Allow 6 to 7 hours for the round-trip. Buses to Taiyuan pass the turnoffs to these temples, and those with light luggage can hop off and negotiate with waiting taxis for each side trip. [Which is what I did when I visited these two sites.]

Nanchan Si (Temple of Southern Meditation) About 177km (110 miles) south of Wutai Shan, turning west off the main road to Taiyuan, a dusty loess road leads to this tranquil ancient temple. It's said that this temple escaped the great Tang persecution of Buddhism in 845 because it was so far from the assemblage of temples on Wutai Shan. Today, its small, perfectly proportioned main hall, Dafo Dian (Hall of the Great Buddha), is reason enough to make the trip. Built in 782, the wooden-frame building has been much restored, but unlike the other halls in this complex, which are distinctly of Ming and Qing design
has retained its original proportions and graceful Tang design. Features to notice are its gently sloping roof, markedly different from the steep gabled roofs of the previous Northern Wei and Sui dynasties. Along the main roof ridge, the pre-Ming ornaments that curl toward each other are called chiwei, meaning "owl tails." The word refers to a mythical sea monster--one of the sons of the dragon--believed to protect against fire.

Inside the hall are 17 Tang dynasty painted clay statues stationed around the large figure of Sakyamuni. Several of the statues are missing a hand or part of a foot, but generally they are in remarkable shape. The large statue in the far left corner is Manjusri riding a lion.

Foguagn Si (Temple of Buddha's Light) The temple is 35km (22 miles) south of Taihuai Village. First built during the Northern Wei dynasty when Buddhism was the official religion, it had greatly expanded by
the time it fell victim to the Tang anti-Buddhist campaign of 845. After its total destruction, it was rebuilt 12 years later with the help of a female benefactor named Ning Gongyu. The one hall associated with her, Dong Dadian (Eastern Great Hall), survives today. Like the Nanchan's Hall of the Great Buddha, it is the only Tang-style building amidst a cluster of mostly Ming and Qing dynasty halls.

To get to the Eastern Great Hall, follow the cobblestone path through the first courtyard. This leads through a deep archway similar to a city-wall gate, followed by a steep stone staircase. The statues, calligraphy, and wall paintings within are from the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, while the 296 arhats (enlightened disciples) on either side--remainder of the original--date to the Ming. Note the more elaborate bracketing, double roofs, and ridge ornaments of this hall compared with the simple elegance of Nanchan Si.

So from Pingyao you need to get to Taiyuan and then go a fair distance further north. When I visited these two sites my brain was entirely in neutral and I didn't detailed notes (those above are from someone else), although I did enjoy the obvious antiquity of the buildings (massive and very simple bracket sets, few of them intercolumnar, low pitch roofs, owls' tails, etc.) It would certainly be possible to visit these two in a day, if you wished.

Peter N-H
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Old Apr 15th, 2008, 07:35 PM
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Peter is probably referring to the Jin Ci (Jin Temple). Here's a link:

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attr...nci_temple.htm

The very old wooden building is the Shengmu Dian (Saintly Mother Hall).
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Old Apr 15th, 2008, 07:55 PM
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There is no chance whatsoever that Peter is confusing two temples with one temple; two with different names with another that has a third name; two on the road from Wutai Shan to Taiyuan with another on the road from Taiyuan to Pingyao; or two authentic Tang buildings with those of considerably later construction. Having visited all three of the temples in question helps, of course, but simply reading what is written reveals the difference.

Peter N-H
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Old Apr 16th, 2008, 06:36 AM
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Peter N-H, thanks again for the advice. You've obviously traveled extensively in the area. I'll add these temples as a possibility but with the family compounds around Pingyao and three kids involved, that might be enough.
Best, Sara
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