We got up early to try the Chinese breakfast again, unfortunately it hadn't improved. Undeterred, we packed up and made our way to the bus station. Straight on a bus to Beijing - one problem with being last on is you end up on the back seat and get bounced around more than normal. The journey was fine though there was traffic congestion because it is holiday week. We arrived at Beijing and managed to get a cab (after trying half a dozen- they were all after a large fare) to take us the 3 miles to Beijing West Railway station. The station is biggest I have ever seen and it was heaving because of the holiday. We negotiated our way through it OK, managing to eat, shop and find the right platform (out of about 30). The train to Pingyao was OK - we could only get hard sleeper which was comfortable but very noisy. We got off the train at 4:00 am but had a taxi waiting from our hotel so managed to get tucked up in bed by 4:15.When we walked round the place next day, it had been transformed. Pingyao is a medieval place with the city walls still intact (a bit like Carcassonne in France). At 4:00 am it was all shut up, but at 9:30 it was heaving - shop fronts open, tourists and hawkers everywhere with the shops all decked out with lanterns. The whole thing looked like something from a movie set.We had a look round some of the sights - mainly the courtyard houses which had been banks (Pingyao was China's banking capital in the 18th and 19th centuries) - and then walked round some of the walls.The next day we had a quiet start as we were both feeling a bit under the weather. We set off to go round the sights we had missed yesterday. If anything the place seemed even more manic than the yesterday - lots of people in not enough space. The weather was the same - fog/smog in the morning slowly burning off. We saw the old court room complete with re-enactment, and some temples - one Buddhist, one Taoist and one Confucian - although the differences between them are quite subtle. The temples were still worth seeing though - especially the Taoist one. In one there was a photography exhibition - not sure what it was doing there but it had some super pictures of famous people and events from the 50s and 60s. The highlight of the day was when I (Geoff) got approached by a group of 14 year old girls who wanted to interview me for their English homework. They all asked questions in turn then, at the end, wanted their photo taken with me - not that unusual - but they insisted that I wear this Chinese hat complete with pigtail. I am glad to say that Fran (who took the picture with their camera) was not quick enough to take a picture with ours!We were off on the night train to Xi'an. Getting on the train proved entertaining. There were about a dozen Westerners in soft seat class. Everybody was allowed onto the platform 5 minutes before the train arrived and the platform lady insisted that we all lined up in double file ready to board the train. Needless to say, the carriage did not arrive where she planned so it was still chaos getting on the train!!