If you want to see what life was like in China hundreds of years ago, one of your best options is Pingyao (平遥), in Shanxi province. The village is surrounded by an ancient wall, now located in the center of the modern city of Pingyao. Cars are not allowed in large portions of the ancient village, so you can roam freely, without worrying about getting run over. And while the main street is quite touristy, you only have to walk a few blocks to see life as it was before modern times.
The world-famous Great Wall of China sees millions of visitors every year. The vast majority of tourists visit the restored sections, such as Badaling and Mutianyu. However, there are also many long stretches of the Great Wall that receive almost no visitors. During winter, it would be a rare occasion indeed to see another living soul in these parts.
Last summer, Katie and I traveled to Berlin, where she lived for two years. Katie was a great tour guide, taking me to her old haunts and to the city's many parks and tourism attractions. I had a great time getting to know this world-class city for two full weeks. Many thanks to Maor, Christina and Liese for hosting us. I hope to see you again in the next few years.
Here are a few of my pictures from our trip:
I have a special podcast for you today. Liese Alsen is a high school history teacher from Berlin, Germany. We sat down in her kitchen for a long chat. She starts with a great summary of Germany's separation after World War II and the Berlin Wall's construction 1961. Then she tells the story of where she was when the wall fell. Later, we discuss how she spent part of her childhood in Lesotho, her years living in the United States and her recent teaching stint in Guatemala. I learned a lot during our talk. Let me know what you think.