Once upon a time, before the glittering skyscrapers rose up, China was a land of elegant courtyard houses and brightly painted Taoist temples. Once upon a time, spindly and ornate watch towers pierced the sky and red paper lanterns crisscrossed streets too narrow to squeeze a car down.
In much of modern China -in Beijing’s hutongs and Xi’an’s terracotta warriors- you can still catch glimpses of this world that was. But it is only in Pingyao that you can walk the same streets, sleep in same imperial beds, and, for a little while at least . . .