Here we are. Already it’s mid-autumn a festival, a time to be with your family and do family things or as we like to think of it around here, a day off work. The long weekend draws to a close and it’s back to the salt mines in the morning. Oh joy, my heart sings. I got a text message this afternoon from one of my students wishing me a happy mid-autumn festival day. I thought it was sweet. I wonder if she sent it because she’s a polite person or because she likes me as a person and was thinking of me. Either way it was nice but I hope it’s choice number 2.
We had our wild three-day weekend in Nanjing. What can one say about Nanjing? To quote Shujie, “I hate it”. The problem in Nanjing is taxis. I’ve ridden lots and lots of taxis in China and you can always get one within minutes, even in the biggest cities. I’ve ridden taxis in other countries and you can always get them within minutes. Shujie has ridden plenty of taxis in China without a problem. However, in Nanjing it seems the taxi is full, or if it’s not full the driver is taking on passengers, or if he is but doesn’t like where you’re going (such as not past the place where he has to pick up his wife), you can forget it. We spent a lot of time trying to flag down taxis but it always ended up we were riding the subway or the buses. It was just so weird to not be able to get a taxi.
I do like staying in nice hotels. The hotel was spotless (as befits a 5 star hotel), the staff was friendly, and the breakfast wasn’t too bad. The location was good. The weather, which called for rain all weekend, produced no rain. That was good. And what visit to the big city doesn’t come with the opportunity to dine out at the finest restaurants money can afford. Pictured below is Shujie showing off the remains of one of our fine meals.
When we got to Nanjing and checked in after our 1-hour bus ride and 20-minute subway ride it was off to see the sites. Our first stop was the Confucius Temple which has a place in history and has been restored so many times you don’t feel like you’re in an old place. Not to mention it was surrounded by an innumerable amount of shops. It was a shopping arcade area that had nothing much to do with Confucius unless he was getting a cut of the action.
Now the temple is ranked as a 5-star attraction but this is the country where you can see 5-star ranked toilets. So I don’t put much trust in their ranking system. But here is the official 5-star ranking picture.
And here is the old guy himself. Did he look like this? Only Confucius knows.
After our visit with Confucius we went into Hagen-Daaz to see how to truly waste money. Shujie had a scoop of green tea ice cream she said was excellent for only about $4.75 while I satisfied a milk shake craving with a $10 milk shake. It’s a holiday. There aren’t many places to get milkshakes and it was quite good.
From there we went to see the old city wall. It’s the largest city wall still in existence in China. Here we are entering it.
It was quite interesting. We went to the top and had a look around. Shujie found the keys to the gates of the wall and is displaying them here for you.
You can also see for miles as this stretch goes on for 7km. It was quite interesting to see it and learn how they used it to protect themselves. Shujie and I both voted this our 2nd most interesting Nanjing attraction.
That evening the hotel recommended an Italian restaurant that was close by. We thought we’d give it a go, as the thought of a plate of spaghetti was quite appealing to me. We sat down and ordered and the waitress went off to place our order. Then she came back to inform me that they were “sold out” of tomato sauce. I thought I was going to blow a gasket. An Italian restaurant sold out of tomato sauce? I’d never heard anything so silly before. I was furious and rather ill behaved. The waitress kept apologizing and I kept telling her that it wasn’t her fault. I felt bad about the apologizing but I was just so angry. We ended up at Pizza Hut (not a thrill) and when I’d calmed down I realized I could have had a better pizza at the restaurant I’d stormed out of. Oh well.
Saturday morning we visited the “Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre”. You can think of it as a Chinese Yad Vashem. If your not history minded, in 1937 the Japanese invaded Nanjing during their conquest of China and managed to kill, rape and pillage to the tune of 300,000 lives. The Japanese were a very cruel people who had no regard for human life outside of Japanese life. Everyone else was just a nothing to them. They didn’t hate them; they just didn’t feel they belonged in the same world as them. It’s a very important place to see because people need to remember what can happen. I’ve been to a museum in Korea that laid out how the Japanese imprisoned and tortured Koreans and now this. I know you shouldn’t hate people whose forbearers committed atrocities many years ago, but it’s easy to understand why so many Chinese hate the Japanese. Shujie and I found it to be the most interesting and important thing we saw in Nanjing.
I don’t usually take pictures inside of the exhibits because I feel it’s disrespectful but outside they had some quite moving statues. Here are a couple of them.
From here we went to the Presidential Palace (used over the years for various things including the first government of Sun Yat-Sen). It’s had other uses an I guess it was kind of nice looking but we really didn’t get much out of it. Then we went to the Nanjing museum that was boredom personified. I mean, who wants to see more bronze pieces.
I think because I’ve been to so many museum’s and seen so many sites in my life, unless it’s really special I don’t get too interested. So many of them start looking the same. I’m lucky that I’ve seen so much, but I’m more demanding in my ability to be impressed.
For dinner the hotel recommended a Chinese restaurant that wasn’t one of those lazy-suzy affairs but where you ordered your own food. It was a Japanese style restaurant in that the chef’s prepared the food in front of you but that didn’t put on a show like you see in other Japanese restaurants. I could get beef and chicken and it was quite tasty. There were 2 girls sitting around the corner from us and they were there with full plates when we arrived and they left a couple of minutes before we did. Boy, did they eat! They kept giving me the eye for a while which was starting to annoy me, but then they spoke to me which was fine. Nice kids. Don’t stare, talk!
After that we went to Starbucks (ah, China) as I had a craving for a Frappachino. After I got that we’d go next store and get Shujie another green tea ice cream from Hagen-Daaz. I ordered my drink and Shujie reminded me she didn’t like chocolate (I got a mocha frappachino) and I gave her the first taste as we walked out of the store to go next door for the ice cream. She takes one sip and says, “I want one”. She’s so funny. She thinks she’s an expert on everything and I love when she finds out she doesn’t know as much as she thinks she knows (even about her likes and dislikes).
Sunday we went up the mountain to a scenic area, which has a few sights. First it was to see Sun Yat-Sen’s mausoleum. It was a long walk up as you can see and it was quite busy. These things are quite a waste of time but you do them when you go site seeing. Here is Dr. Sun and some friends.
We then went to some Ming tomb and tombs are boredom personified. It’s a patch of ground. Big deal. Next site please.
We decided to take the cable car to the top of the mountain as it involved that taxing exercise known as sitting. It was quite nice and the weather was comfortable. In fact, it was almost cool. At the top Shujie got her picture taken with one of her friends.
I took a picture down the mountain. Notice how clear it is.
And I was just overwhelmed by the whole experience.
Dinner that evening was at a Western restaurant that was a steak house. It was pricey and the steak, while tasty, was thin. Outback is better. But alas, there is no Outback in Nanjing
Today we came back to the beauty of Jurong and tomorrow begins another week of school. Although the hours are short, they are quite exhausting. Hopefully I’ve made some progress but we’ll see tomorrow when I ask to see their papers with their speeches on it. I don’t expect everyone to have done them, and I’ll figure out how to torture those who haven’t. I like to wing it with the idea that pops into my head at the time.
I’ve finished my list of 16 weeks of lesson plans so the clerks should be happy. I don’t have to follow them; I just have to write something. Sounds silly? Yes, it does. Who knows what evil lurks in the week ahead? We’ll find out.