In the “Southern Capital”

Just a heads up- I’m going to reserve this first update to be specifically about everything we did in Nanjing that didn’t include the TV show. I will talk about that experience in the next post 🙂

My friend Alex and I left early in the morning on March 31st to catch our train to Nanjing. Getting to the train station was a bit of a hassle because of traffic and the location of the station, it was a far off one that only has trains heading to Shanghai. Well, Nanjing is a stop along the way to Shanghai so off we went! (Hooray!)

It took 4 hours and we were in Nanjing by 1:30, bought return train tickets for the 2nd, ate dumplings, lost my luggage, found my luggage, and then hopped in a cab to the hotel the TV station reserved for me. Quite the eventful time at the train station, haha. Side Note: Something we noticed right away was how funny Nanjing dialect sounds, they make sounds that is not even normal Chinese. I don’t know how to explain it, Chinese has only so many phonetic sounds, which aren’t a lot, which creates the need for tones, but people from Nanjing were speaking all kinds of crazy! Back on track: The cab ride to the hotel was beautiful, Alex and I couldn’t help but notice that Nanjing seems greener than Tianjin…weird observation but it is true. There were parks, clean skies, bushes of flowers, trees everywhere, and actually plant life on the street meridians. I don’t mean to make Tianjin seem like a barren wasteland, because it’s not, but there is a distinct difference. After a stop at the hotel and TV station we were free, and went back to our hotel room to plan our trip. I’m way too casual about touring…I never know what NEEDS to be seen or what’s famous until I get there. Heck, I went to Hong Kong and still don’t know how to say, “My name is…” in Cantonese.  The only thing I ever heard about Nanjing was about the Japanese invasion, so we promptly got onto Google and Baidu (basically the Chinese version of Google) to find out where we should go. Since it was already late afternoon we heard that a nice place to go was the Confucius Temple at night. We met up two Nankai University classmates, Avi (an American friend of mine…literally we go to the same University and have known each other for years) and Lynn (a Vietnamese girl born in Germany…the funny thing is her parents speak Japanese rather than German like she does), and hit the temple up.

It’s located on the side of a famous river in Nanjing, and had a bunch of different light festival attractions going on. Not to mention there were all kinds of street food, we ate so many snacks that we didn’t even need to eat dinner. Then Lynn and Avi took a 50 minute boat cruise down the lake. Alex and I didn’t join in because I have been on enough boat cruises in this lifetime, or so I tell myself, it’s just that being on a boat gets SO boring and I always feel like it was a waste of time or money afterwards. In the end, we got back to our room at 11 and had a pretty early night so we would be ready for a full day of touring.

We woke up early and went to the train station (for reasons that are explained in the TV Show post), and then we met up with Avi and Lynn for lunch and a trek to the Sun Yet Sen Mausoleum. It was a very hot day, and there was a hell of a climb to get to his mausoleum…in fact I’m still not sure if he was buried there or not…meh. A really cool part of this attraction was a section called “The Music Stage” (I’m translating from Chinese…it sounds more normal in the original language, I swear). It had a large fountain in the middle, benches, Grecian architecture, flowers, trees, music, and doves. There were so many of them, and you could buy food and feed them, it was a very nice, relaxing place. Then, we also took a five yuan bus to another nearby sight, The Nanjing Xiaoling Mausoleum. We originally went there for the tombs, but got sidetracked and walked into a Plum Blossom Festival, don’t ask questions…I have no answers. It was beautiful of course, but it took us over an hour to get back on track, and almost another hour to find the tombs. In the end we made it most of the way, took a look at a map, and gave up….the place was HUGE and our feet hurt. I must say Lynn is a trooper, she wore heels the entire time and not one complaint.

The most amusing part of this trek was watching Alex try to dodge middle school girls and women taking photos of him or asking for photos with him. It’s funny because they always assume we can’t understand Chinese, so we can hear them saying things like, “You go ask him…No, YOU go ask him…OMG, and doesn’t he look just like Edward from Twilight?”  So he has an advantage, it gives him time to know which way to run and where to hide…it’s hilarious! He has to hide though, because if one asks the others all rally up courage and then it becomes an impromptu photo shoot. (I’m going to ask him if I can put a picture of him up on this so you guys can see, he actually does look like him….and in China that’s practically a death sentence.)He’s a veritable heartthrob among the masses (don’t get me wrong, I hate Twilight, but I am speaking from the Chinese stand point). Whenever we walk into a room, it doesn’t take that long for the words, “Vampire”, “Edward”, and “Twilight” to get thrown around, but in Nanjing it was crazy, it would take only three seconds. Then we would have to pick a corner of the subway train with the least estrogen to go around.

That actually leads into the next day of touring, because we decided to go to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial. Over 300,000 Chinese people were killed during the Japanese invasion and the Memorial is at the burial ground for 10,000 of them. It was very sobering and sad to see the corpses of babies, children, and old people, apparently soldiers used copper nails to drill into children…don’t ask me why this was a better method than guns, I will never know. Regardless, the memorial was tastefully done because it ended with a “Peace Garden” with signs encouraging everyone to love and embrace one another. I really liked that place, but anyways, somewhere in between the burial ground and the garden, we got separated from Alex. Then we spotted him, but were so far away…too far to do anything when the group of middle-schoolers on a field trip spotted him as well. It was like watching a train wreck, don’t get me wrong, we laughed and let him be tortured for a while, but after a few minutes swooped in to save him. Didn’t want anyone to have a chance to ask for a souvenir neck nibble. It was too late though, and a crowd began following us, so Alex and I had to hold hands like a couple to scare them off. I didn’t work though because we realized, too late, that seeing an interracial, interspecies (vampire/human?) couple was just as appealing. So we smacked sunglasses on him and walked quickly away. Afterwards, we went to a peaceful garden next to a lake and kicked it with a bunch of old people. They were really nice, but we could barely understand them, their Nanjing accents were strong. I wanted to adopt an old lady who reminded me of my grandma though, she was so adorable! Tiny lady with strong opinions and a very loud voice, haha.

That night Alex and I walked around to find any attractions, but Nanjing is pretty dead after a certain time. You can’t even watch any shows like Beijing Opera, Kung Fu, or Acrobatics. The next night after the TV show recording we tried to find the Nanjing party scene, but it was basically nonexistent. We went to two bars and a club then called it a night. All in all, I was really glad I got to the chance to see another area of China practically for free…life is good!

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