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Published: August 21st 2012
Finally, finally finishing my blog about China! It is much harder to write about trips as you get farther from the experience, so I apologize in advance if this is vague.
I spent more time in Nanjing than I did in any other part of China because bf's mother's family is from there. This experience was like a homsetay because I was staying with an Aunts family. In Chinese cities most people live in high-rise apartments rather than houses because there are just so many apartment buildings. They are sprouting like weeds all around the edges of cities, covered in a green web of building materials. So many Chinese migrate from the country into the cities that these apartments are necessary, and they really drive home the point about how many people are actually in China.
Nanjing is one of the three Furnace cities, meaning that they are incredibly hot and muggy in the summer and wet in the winter. Even though Shanghai and Hangzhou were both humid and hot, Nanjing beat them by a long shot. It was especially nice to step into a shopping center or restaurant, which I felt was most of what we did.
I explored what felt like every mall in Nanjing. We wandered through endless department stores, luxury shops, cheap stalls of plastic wrapped knock-offs. I also visited Uniqlo a few times and found some neat stuff, but it is basically another H&M. I was always amused by the pair of shoes provided in the dressing room. I found that you could rate the caliber of a store by the shoes. In the big, impersonal stores they would have cheap plastic slippers. In the nicer ladies stores there would be wedge heels about 7 sizes too small for my monster feet.
We visited the Xuanwu Gate, one of the parts of the old wall surrounding Nanjing. We didn't explore the gate so much, but spent time in the park beside it and also taking a paddle boat around the lake. Usually you can get a good view of the city from the lake, but the smog was so bad you could hardly see any of the skyscrapers.
On another, clearer, day we visited the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum and hiked up the many steps to walk quickly around his tomb. It is a very dramatic park, and there were tons of
tourists-- mostly Chinese-- all over the park. Sun Yat-Sen is very popular among the Chinese people, which I supposes is not surprising considering his beliefs and the current government situation. We also visited the Linggu temple and I enjoyed a bit of vertigo while trying to take pictures of the lake and the city.
In Nanjing I tried such foods as shark fin soup, sea cucumber, and stinky tofu. I could take or leave the soup, and I'd rather leave it. I've been told most don't actually contain shark bits, but how can you know? I don't think I will try stinky tofu again because it pretty much lives up to the name, meaning that it smells like the backside of a cow. My favorite thing was hot pot, though. The restaurant we visited had a little conveyor belt running through the whole thing and you could grab small plates of mushrooms or bok choy or whatever else caught your eye, and plop them in your soup. They also had free .2 abv beer, which was amusing. There were so many ingredients, including hot dog, whole fish, duck eggs, and a headless turtle.
I also got to spend
a couple of nights out in Nanjing, supposedly at the hottest club. I guess everybody just gets bottle service, which includes somebody to mix your drinks and pour them, and a fruit basket type thing. The more expensive your alcohol, the bigger and more impressive your fruit basket. There were girls walking around selling cigars and glow sticks and ice cream, and even giant lollipops!
China has so much to offer, it would take years to explore everything. It's a big, weird world out there and I can't wait to see more.
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