Taiyuan is a few hours north of Pingyao by bus. It’s an unremarkable modern town, but much enlivened by plants an little parks. Ailing trees line its main boulevards. I sat in a green square for a few hours waiting for my train, watching children skate.
The high-speed train to Beijing is more functional than elegant, but it’s modern, new and spotless, and quiet, like European intercities. It goes 160 km/h most of the time, 200 for some sections, and reached a top speed of 250. I was in Beijing after only three hours, but by then it was way too late to do any sightseeing.