Chilly but gorgeous, blue-sky day spent wandering the streets of Pingyao. The city is a UNESCO heritage site with around 4,000 perfectly preserved Ming and Qing style houses surrounded by a heavy-duty 6km wall. We have good guides in Alyssa and her best friend Amy who came here on a school trip six months ago, but basically we just mooched around, popping into temples, courtyard houses, nick-nacky shops and surprisingly good cafes.
One interesting feature of Pingyao are the old Qing Dynasty banks, over 20 of them dotted around the city. One of them, Rishengchang (founded in 1823), was considered to be the first bank in China, and at its peak controlled over half the Chinese economy. Funny thing. At the end of Alyssa's school trip back in May, they had a class photo taken in front of the watchtower which got put onto a mug for each child... which I recently dropped & smashed. By chance we passed by a shop with an array of mugs outside and one of them had a picture of a different class from her school from the previous year. So we went inside and gave them the date of Alyssa's visit and they found it on the computer. Ten minutes later she had a new mug.