December 27, 2008
Full set here.
Nanjing was the capital of several governments of China, including the Taiping and Nationalist goverments. Its name actually means "Southern Capital" (just as Beijing means "Northern Capital".) The city is okay, I guess. There was nothing heart-stoppingly amazing about it, but I had a decent time. I think the main issue was that I wasn't motivated to do a whole hell of a lot, since I was by myself and had roughly 24 hours to spend there (thanks to a train delay).
First I went to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, which commemorates the Japanese slaughter of over 300,000 Nanjing residents in 1937. The exhibits were tastefully done and really gave me a sense of what happened, which is what I wanted it's not an incident we hear much about in the West. But of course it still plays a huge role in Sino-Japanese relations today and, for me as a Jew, has parallels to the Holocaust. There is an excavated mass gravesite you can walk around, and there are various statues, which are done to look very ragged and horrifying, accompanied by poems and prose about that time.
After that I went to the mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yatsen, the founder of modern China. The memorial is up on Zijin Mountain (Purple-Gold Mountain) and is a pretty nice place. You have to climb up 392 stairs (some of which are pictured above) to get to his blue-and-white place of rest. You can circle around his body in a manner not unlike the way in which you can view Mao Zedong's body in Beijing. Around his mausoleum are some historical artifacts and facts about the man. Later on I went to the Presidential Palace, which has an interesting history. It's built on the site of a palace constructed as the seat of government for the Taiping rebels (another fascinating story I never learned about in America -- who wants to argue with a man who claims Jesus gave him a new set of internal organs?) In its current form it was the site where Dr. Sun was sworn in as president, and it's where Chiang Kaishek did his thing while he was in power. Pretty neat historical stuff. It's built in the style of a Ming Dynasty palace, with gardens, walkways, and everything. Check out the pictures, they're pretty neat.
At night I went to the Confucius Temple area, which contains a huge night market and is all lit up with neon. There's nothing spectacular about it -- I just have grown to enjoy night markets and neon, so when I heard these two things where there in abundance, I went to eat some snacks and take some pictures. Good times :-) After that I retreated to my hotel room, where I caught Spider-Man 3 (awesome) and Good Luck Chuck (which I thought I was going to hate but, surprisingly, didn't) on HBO before falling asleep.
Another thing I should mention is the train ride I took to/from Nanjing. It was so entirely comfortable that even when we were stuck on the tracks for 45 minutes outside a smaller city, I didn't mind. I just kept reading my book. It was the "first-class" train which means the seats were super wide and I had tons of leg room. Plus the cabin was nice and quiet since the ride wasn't that full. It was very relaxing; I almost didn't want to get off at Nanjing!
Well that's it for travelling in China! It's been a great year. In addition to Shanghai, I've been to Hangzhou, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Huangshan, Zhuji, Shaoxing, Suzhou, Xizang (Tibet), Kunshan, Xi'an, and Nanjing. Wow. I think that's pretty damn impressive for just one year, and I feel really good about all I've been able to do. It's certainly far more travelling than I've done in the States.
My next big trip is ... you guessed it ... back home to America on Friday. Yup -- less than a week!! Can you believe it? I can't really ...