Published: August 31st 2011August 31st 2011
So Shanghai got a little too pricy (although Beijing also spoils the heck out of you – 2 kuai to take the metro system anywhere in Beijing, I have no idea how the city can support that). So after seeing the bund again at night, seeing the Shanghai museum, and LuXun’s house, we’re (I’m) taking a detour to Nanjing. Without further ado:
With my larger luggage stored at the Shanghai hostel, and having caught a cold in Shanghai (something about the hostel here is driving my sinuses nuts), I got on the train at 10 and got into Nanjing around 11:40. At the Shanghai train station, I was informed that one of the students from the high school that my high school has a great relationship with would pick me up at the train station. Hai Rong (female) was very nice, however, wasn’t ready for my grandmaster plan of finding the hostel (which was guestimate it from the map I had to draw). So after getting lost for a little bit, we finally realized I had the hostel number, and gave them a ring. We finally found the hostel, and I threw my stuff in really quickly and we went off to the Rape of Nanjing memorial.
Now I feel like I’ve written about Sino-Japanese relations a lot, and part of that might just be chance that keep running across it, but the memorial museum really does justice to the travesties that happened in Nanjing. I’ll go ahead and say when I was looking through my travel book, I was wondering why Nanjing didn’t have a huge list of places to visit, compared to Beijing/Shanghai, but I realized that most of it was destroyed during the Japanese raids. This was shown very well in the memorial, as well as the hell that the Japanese troops put the Nanjing citizens through. In the memorial, there was the number “300,000” everywhere, which is the final victim count (and this doesn’t include the 20,000+ known cases of rape or gang rape [of women between the ages of 11 and 76 – not making that up sadly]). I mean I’m not one to hate, but you see stuff like this, and you can at least understand where the resentment comes from. As I’m writing this (back in Shanghai) I have a Japanese roommate, and he said that he’s not planning to travel to Nanjing without friends of other nationalities. It’s a really heavy topic, but I think it’s also a crucial one in China’s history. I’d also like to say I was surprised that I wasn’t really shocked at what I saw. I think part of this was that I had already read personal accounts of the event in High School, and I’ve seen the Holocaust memorial in DC, so I think I had mentally prepared myself better than I thought to see the memorial.
Afterwards, we went next door to the Nanjing Museum. Eh, not great, but on the second floor they had people making embroidered cloth, and that was actually really cool to see, especially since they still use these huge, two person, wooden contraptions that looks like it could fall apart by breathing on it the wrong way. Then Zhang Laoshi picked us up, dropped off Hai Rong, and then me at my hostel. And then I burnt the roof of my mouth on Korean food. (still sick btw, so I wasn’t a happy camper). But when I went back to the hostel, I ended up having a 2 hour conversation with one of my roommates (I’m getting good at this – and again, I did this while sick and tired – my worst time to do anything involving Chinese). He was really cool, a finance guy who planned on going state side for grad school. Then I slept.
So I woke up around 8:20 to an unintelligent (on my part) phone call from Zhang Laoshi (way too early – I could have sworn we’d agreed on 9 – and for those of you being like “come on Robby, really?” remember I’m still sick – and if you are still like “come on Robby, really?” then I’d like to see you do the following with a bad cold). So I took a shower, coughed up a lung (whatever, I have 2), and called Zhang Laoshi back, now that I was awake and I had room in my throat to breathe. She picked me up at the hostel, picked up some baozi ( buns - they better have baozi in Taiwan) and headed off. She and her husband (who I’m going to guess his name is ShiTou, since he introduced himself as Stone – side note, Stone is an awesome name and if I have 2 sons I might have to steal that) dropped me off near the base of ZiJin Mountain, got me into a special park and told me “Ok, so you’re going to walk this trail, see Sun YatSen’s Memorial, walk down to the 1 bus, take it down, take the metro over to ZongTongFu (President’s Courtyard more or less) and then give us a call.
And so I basically did that. It starts off with this walk way protected by stone warriors, which was rather cool, and then you can take a train up to the memorial, or if you’re a boss (even when sick) you walk up there because the mountain is beautiful. Along the way, I found what is suppose to be a treasure something or other, but long story short, it seemed like a mini-(compared to everything else on the mountain) temple, which was a rather cool find and a nice detour. Took some good pics, confused some Asians (haven’t said this yet, but Nanjing isn’t nearly the tourist spot that Beijing and Shanghai are, so while it wasn’t as bad as it was in AnYang, I got some more double takes than normal in Nanjing).
Then I hiked up to Sun YatSen’s Mausoleum. I read my guidebook ahead of time and it pointed out the irony that Sun YatSen wanted a small burial, in accordance to being with the people. A year after his death, the people said “yeah, F- that.” and build this monster of a mausoleum. Everything about this place (which is all fairly pearl white and royal blue) was screaming (and I’ve edited this next part) “I was a fricking cool dude.” So after the super stair climb (seriously China, stairs and great and all, but we do have escalators now, or at least don’t build stuff on a hill – just saying) and seeing the Mausoleum, I went back to find the 1 bus. Instead I walked an extra 20 minutes and found the 2 bus. But I got back down to the main road with the 2 bus and found the nearest metro stop (thank god Zhang Laoshi gave me that map) and headed off. I realized I had time, so I stopped by the Ming GuGong ruins – which as I was told, there was next to nothing after the Japanese attack/invasion. I was told correctly, but it was worth the detour, and the metro stop for it was on my route.
Then I hopped back on the metro towards ZongTongFu. So after getting lost circling a building that turned out not to be ZongTongFu, I made my way to ZongTongFu (say that 3 times fast) – which is where the Republic of China (the one that’s now in Taiwan) was ran until they were kicked out by some guy named Mao ZeDong (I’m pretty sure he wasn’t important). But all the buildings themselves were rather cool (especially for someone who enjoys their Chinese history.) It was cool to walk around, see the offices, classrooms, schools, etc.
So right as I finished touring the place, Zhang Laoshi gave me a call, and me met up with her family (where I met her daughter Anna) and went to the Confucius shrine – a major prayer spot for students before tests. It was cool to see the relics of all the disciples and of him. Furthermore, I learned the two main tenants of Confusianism, Ren (Self respect, study hard, etc) and Li (Family order, government order, etc). It was also nice to know that my Fantizi (traditional Characters) were about on pace with a 8 year old (Anna). Awesome. Afterwards, I tried Chou Doufu (stinky Toufu). I have no clue why Chou DouFu exist, but it’s one of those weird specialty dishes. I tried it, and it was ok, not great. I would eat it again if served, but never order it myself. That being said, I’ve been told that it’s better in Taiwan, so we’ll see. We then had a real supper, which was ok, not great since we ate at a tourist trap (and I’m not being rude here, because that’s an exact translation of what Zhang Laoshi told me – and I politely agreed, but also saying that it wasn’t terrible either). I was then dropped off at my hostel, where I met another student traveling, who was shocked and super excited to learn that I spoke Chinese (man that felt good). Talked with him for about an hour and a half, and then hit the hay.
Also, I finished Animal Farm (in English) – I know it’s a poke at the Russians, but there were a lot of ties to the Chinese system as well. No real surprise there.
So I woke up, got breakfast real quick, and grabbed a cab to Zhang Laoshi’s house, which is really close to XuanWu Lake Park, where I wandered. But first she gave me breakfast (I don’t know why) but I loved her for it, because she gave me a carton of milk. OH MY GOD IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD. I savored every drop, and thought my jaw was going to melt off. After I recovered from drinking the angel’s blood, I walked to the Lake, and man is it beautiful. I quite simply popped in my headphones, and started walking. The lake is just beautiful, with a path around the whole lake, as well as a path through the islands in the center. And the entrance is part of the original Ming Wall, the part not destroyed by the Japanese. So after drinking the milk, seeing the wall, and walking through the islands while listening to my favorite music, I was in heaven. But all good things come to an end. As I got to the end of the islands, I decided instead of backtracking, I would walk around the lake. This in itself wasn’t a bad idea, but right as I stared walking around the lake, it started pouring. And guess who didn’t have an umbrella or rain jacket? This guy. (I did have one in my backpack, which was with Zhang Laoshi). But did a little rain kill anyone? Even if that anyone was still recovering from sickness (although admittedly better than the 20th)? Heck no, so I walked on, jamming to some Kanye, and strutting around like a boss. A very wet boss, but still a boss. When I started to get close, Zhang Laoshi gave me a call, and wondered where I was. I knew I was close to the exit, but I wasn’t sure how close, so after I hung up, I started jogging, which I’m sure was a sight to see. A tall, sexy, Aryan male running through the rain, sun glasses on, hat backward – I’m pretty sure I’m going to get a sponsorship from Nike any day now. I made it to the exit, and to make a long story short – I got really lost as to where I was suppose to go, because I thought I was going to Zhang Laoshi’s house, not the restaurant down the street. But I finally made it with just enough time to scarf down some food that Zhang Laoshi ordered for me (or at least pick out all of the beef in the dish). Then after a quick goodbye, I hopped in a cab, and made it on the train with 15 minutes to spare. Boo-yah. Then I slept. In a puddle of rainwater.
And that is my adventures in Nanjing. Next time we will continue our fun and joy in Shanghai. But until then:
While the holocaust was awful, why is it that we forget so many other WWII travesties, such as the Rape of Nanjing, or the Japanese encampment in the US?
Does anyone else feel it’s weird that everyone ignored Sun Yatsen’s dying wishes and built him an awesome building of awesome? Though it is awesome…
Can milk be sexy? Cause I think I had a moment with milk, and now I can’t look at it the same way…