Weekly Challenge – Inside the Ancient City of Ping Yao

“Darkness is just light turned inside out.”




This week we have been challenged to look on the inside, to see past the obvious.  As I was working with our tour company to put together our China itinerary, I stressed exactly that – an interest in looking inside the “real” China, which to me meant visiting some of the more remote, less modernized regions.



“Every moment is a crossroad in time. Consider that, as above so below and as inside so outside and live accordingly.”

Grigoris Deoudis

What I’ve learned thus far, as so aptly put by my husband, is that China is a dichotomy, a country in transition – bicycles and BMWs, ancient and modern, young and old, crazy crowded and peacefully solitary.  As a UNESCO world heritage site, the ancient city of Ping Yao offers a look at China before the many cranes and expanding roadways began to change her look and feel.



“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Ping Yao region has been occupied since neolithic times, and has been an urban center since 800 BC; its walls were built in the 14th century.  It was the home of the first draft bank in China and thus became a major center for trade and commerce.



“We are all alike on the inside.”

Mark Twain

As business and industry moved to more modern cities like Beijing and Shanghai, places like Ping Yao have begun to depend on tourism and local commerce for their livelihoods.  The remarkable preservation of the walls and courtyards of Ping Yao make it a valid visit to China’s simpler past – but because it is off the beaten path it is not overrun nor spoiled by its tourism.  Here then, a few examples of the walls and courtyards within them:









“Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakes.”

Carl Jung

And finally, a look at some of Ping Yao’s people going about their everyday lives – showing us that what’s inside is not about the walls, or the courtyards, or even the history. It’s about those upon whom China depends for her future, her people.









“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”

Deepak Chopra

China, to me, is a visual explosion.  There are photographs just waiting to be made at every turn.  During our travels in the countryside, the grasses are so green and the flowers so yellow, you just want to dive into them – but more on that next time 🙂  In the meanwhile, to see more entries on the Inside,  click here.




147 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge – Inside the Ancient City of Ping Yao

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside, #1: What’s in my head? | Rob's Surf Report

    • 🙂 Thanks Arn! Intimidated by videography but did film a wonderful spontaneous song fest in one of the parks the other day. Now that I think of it tho, never did see it as I was downloading – see I TOLD you I was intimidated!!!

  2. Vicariously loving another of your trips 🙂 Love the pictures of the people – what a beautiful grandmother! Safe, healthy travels!

  3. OMG….JUST SPECTACULAR!!! What a fabulous experience….I consider myself very lucky to be on the ride…..My goal in travel has always been to seek the inner walls…not the obvious…..glad to share this goal with you !

  4. Amazing post of sight and emotion and connection. Loved them all – boy in basket – man at bike – rooftops… I agree, you are sharing a gift with us all. Enjoy!

    • Thank you Amar – yes I think you’re right, mostly the images of China are quite different but to me the beauty of the country is found in the people and in the countryside. So happy it appeals to you too!

    • Thanks so much Angeline! It’s been a bit arduous getting to some of the remote villages, and some of the roads are truly frightening, but worth every second! Appreciate your kind comment.

  5. Thank you, Tina, for sharing your beautiful photos, text and quotes. You’ve captured so much personality in this post and I appreciate a glimpse into the “real” China. Thanks!

    • Thanks Jane – knew the little boy would appeal to you 🙂 He was really precious and very shy but finally let me get a good shot after lots of encouragement. It’s quite the journey here as you know!

  6. Boy I’ll say! — yes a ‘visual explosion’ — of which you so tenderly capture the amazing essence there. You definitely are a premier photojournalist, and so generous to be sharing all that you are gathering in your travels with us. Can’t thank you enough for taking us along for the ride!!
    Safe travels – dsup

  7. As I sit recouperating , I cannot tell you how I look forward to your posts — educating and entertaining … My virtual tour! Thank you. What an awesome experience you are so aptly sharing. Continued safe travels… Linda

  8. Many of these are stunning photos, Tina! And, btw, I meant to comment on your first post of shots from the Great Wall how wonderful they are, and what a great job you did finding unusual vantage points for your photos. They were not the “usual” cliche shots. Well done!

  9. Tina – you continue to amaze me with with the warmth and depth of your photographs and the quotations. This morning, as I sip my coffee in a cabin in Montana, I have been transported to China, and in that virtual journey, feel connected with with the souls of the people you have introduced to us on these pages. Not an easy task, but one you accomplish beautifully. More please!

    • What a lovely comment Ginny, thanks so much. I can just see and feel you sitting over your coffee and enjoying the stories. Makes my heart feel good!
      Miss you, look forward to seeing you again soon.

  10. Such a great variety of “inside”! Interesting, captivating and beautiful, Tina.
    I am happy to see you are really enjoying your time there, including discovering and capturing moments around. 🙂

  11. Very soft and mellow feeling to the photos, Love the faces. And did you ever imagine so many things could be carried on a bike?

    • Thanks Sharon! I too love the faces which say so much more than words could. (If I could understand them, which of course I don’t LOL!) And the only thing more amazing than the bike thing is how much they can carry on their backs – YIKES!

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  15. You should be a photo journalist – or perhaps you are? Your photos and words weave a story every time. I won’t go to China, but I do like to see what others find there. I hope these towns don’t become ghost towns when all the young people move away to work in the big cities, but it must be a hard life living there.
    Jude xx

    • Thanks for your thoughtful and lovely comment Jude. Not a photo journalist but do enjoy putting my thoughts, and those of some greater minds, together with my photography. And you’re exactly right, the young people have little interest in continuing the old ways – which make for a very difficult life. very sad but I suppose life goes on, doesn’t it?

  16. Tina, I’ve long wanted to go to Ping-Yao. Thanks for the window into that world. China has destroyed so much of its heritage. Glad to know this is still intact. Good work!

  17. Hi Tina: your post is not only beautiful but very thoughtful! I can see that you are a great photographer looking for real people, real places, and not only beautiful scenery like many tourists. That’s the beauty of your post. I remember you mentioned your planned trip to China a while ago. Now you are back. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and appreciating your pictures.

    I had been to Ping Yao, but did not capture what you had seen and shared. I like particularly the boy in the basket! I like all your quotes, especially the Carl Jung quote of inside and outside!

    Thanks for a great post!

  18. My first visit – what a wonderful experience! Your photos, as always, demonstrate such beauty; and, your descriptions and choice of quotes are so perfectly chosen!

    • It’s truly amazing and such a fantastic experience. Nothing can prepare you for the vastness of it, and for the crowds and traffic in the big city vs the beauty of the countryside and its gentle people. Appreciate your visit and comment!

  19. Really love this post, it brings me back lots of memories. It certainly is a good place to see the past of China, the scenes shown on your photos are not much different with real life we had been 30 years ago except for more modern cars. It will be very crowded during its annually Photography Festival which is going to start soon. Thanks.

    • Hi Minh and thanks for your comments! Yes, I was told about the photography expo and thought the best place to be would be far away as I am not a fan of crowds! It’s such an inspirational venue for photography I can see why they host it here. What a beautiful country with gentle, friendly people.

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  21. What a beautiful response to the theme, and as always your words are wonderfully woven, and your photos perfectly composed and full of human warmth.
    These old UNESCO sites are always incredible, the preservation is amazing.

    • Amazing indeed Seonaid, thanks! I actually love the little villages and farmland a bit more, as you’ll see in some upcoming posts, but the UNESCO sites are so historic and well preserved its amazing. Appreciate your lovely comment.

  22. Love these shots Tina! China is high up on my list of dream photo destinations and I think you’ve captured why perfectly here. I’ll definitely be making an effort to visit an older, more traditional city after seeing these shots!

    • Thanks so much Ben. The cities are exciting and fun and the expansion is EVERYWHERE – but the remote villages and the countryside are magnificent :-). Don’t do one without the other!

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