Nanjing, China – Day 7
Visit the former capital of China – Nanjing. There is over 2000 years of history born right here and emperors of 10 dynasties made this their capital city. Americans think about that! 2000 years! It’s a hard thing for us to wrap our heads around.
First to Dr. San Yet-Sun’s Mausoleum at Purple Mountain – 80,000 square meters of it. Why is this an important stop? Well this guy is revered as the founder of the Republic of China. This place? The Holy Land of China. The historical significance alone is enough to require a visit when in Nanjing. The landscape and the views are just an added bonus.
How do you get here? Just take Line 2 to Xiamafang station and bus 202 to entrance and follow the signs. They use tokens for the railway here in Nanjing so it is very easy to purchase single journey tokens in English at the vending machines at $2 yuan each to wherever you want to go.
At the beginning of your tree lined walk to the mausoleum take in the smell and sounds of the wooded forest…camilla ofera and all. The Chinese, like the Taiwanese, are great about identifying the trees and flowers for you. Look for the signs (or take the small choo choo or cable car if walking isn’t your thing at $10 yuan each way.) Make your way up to the “marble road” to the entrance gate to find the memorial that says “Boi An” meaning love and begin the ascent up 368 steps to the Sacrificial Hall. Don’t forget to turn around and look down from time to time…it will be a resplendent surprise. And the mausoleum is free for visitors unlike the rest of the park. Stop for a Lactic Acid drink (yep that’s the name and sounds rather refreshing right?) before heading to your next destination.
Second, make your way to Ming’s Tomb. Emperors of the Ming Dynasty are buried here – 13 Ming emperors to be exact and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site if that makes a difference for you. Again, the historical significance is enough to encourage a visit and it can be done on the same day as the Mausoleum as they are close by each other. The inner red gate leads to the “souls who are deceased” so stop here. Take a moment. Remember where you are…the history. For me, it was the little train ride through the shady forest, the meander through the park, the reflections of the trees in the still waters surrounding the mausoleum, the dark tunnel of stairs through the mausoleum where so many had walked before me that it felt like secrets were buried in the walls, the view looking down from the top, the aroma of the trees and flower blossoms and the statues from long ago said to be there to pay homage and to provide protection, that did it for me.
I would encourage a trip here any day but would recommend a time when it is cooler like winter, spring or fall as 100+ is a difficult time to climb the stairs and hike through the Purple Mountain and/or the Tianshou Mountain. Having said that, it cools way down in the evening to like the 90s so try that time if you can. Also, to be at the Ming Tombs near closing time on an excruciatingly hot day means less tourists and I actually got some photographs with no people in them and there is something to be said about that anywhere in the world but most especially in Mainland China!!!!
Third, if it’s open, which it wasn’t for me (and on a Saturday if you can believe it), go go go to the Memorial Hall where the remains of 300,000 Chinese who were massacred by the Japanese were uncovered. Talk about insensate brutality. Of course, as we know, there was a lot of that leading up to and during WWII by several different regimes. Here, the Rape of Nanking, as it was called, was six weeks of rape, torture and murder by Japanese troops against the Chinese back in 1937. The city was left in ruins and it took decades for them to recover. Take the time, if you can, to learn about what happened here and pray that others will do the same in hopes that history will not repeat itself. (Think of the populace’s growing opinion of Muslims as a whole given the acts of a few and pray we don’t do this kind of thing again.)
Lastly, Confucius Temple – Fuzimiao. Confucius says what?? Confucius says he just rolled over in his grave. You need to stop at Fuzimiao especially at night and take a cruise on the Qinhuai River for sure but know this, it is tourism on crack. It’s lit up like Christmas. Thousands flock here each day to see what once was a very traditional humble place but has been turned into a spectacle. It is a complex now rather than a temple and has been since it was rebuilt in this fashion in 1984. For the pleasure of this you will pay 80 yuan and wait about an hour with an incredibly massive number of Chinese people squished together like sardines sweating and cutting and shoving and tripping and elbowing. I still cannot get over the lack of manners in this country. I want so desperately to hold an Emily Post’s Greatest Hits seminar here! Just at the very moment you start to think you might start to sort of like China, yet another person or thousands of persons decimates your higher regard. I know I sound pernicious in my countenance but I’m having difficulty rectifying that but my efforts to see them through unfettered eyes goes without reward. Even my phone hates it here. Never works properly between the heat, the billions of people and the censorship.
You may want to go to Dacheng Hall and see the largest statue of Confucius in China as well but I’ve had enough for the day.
I will give China in summer this – you don’t ever need to use the toilet and you are bound to weigh less upon departure. I weighed 49.7kg this morning and 49kg after today. Just one of my packs is half my body wait almost. I’m light already but the loss of water due to the heat is astounding. Only Huay, Vietnam is worse during the summer and I’m from Houston, Texas! Sweat is just part of the game. At least I don’t smell like stinky tofu. Stinky tofu will absolutely make you gag when you walk by those street vendors unless you learn to hold your breath!
Anyway, I escaped hell just barely for a night of room service and a movie. It is VERY rare that I do this but when you have had your fill, you have had your fill.
That’s all for now from Nanjing.