Me and Pete have just spent the past couple of days trekking around the surprisingly large city of Nanjing.
We arrived in Nanjing via high speed train on the 18th and got a taxi all the way across town to our hostel, where we chilled out in the rooftop bar for a few hours.
On the 19th, we decided to see the north of the city (as we needed to purchase train tickets to Suzhou). We got a metro to the Central Gate or what was now a motorway junction (you'd think they'd want to preserve an ~800 year old city wall gate, but no!). We then headed to the train station, where pandemonium ensued. There must have been over 1000 people trying to buy train tickets, yet we managed to get ours quite quickly. We then entered Xuahuia Lake Park. The lake was absolutely massive, like the size of a small town! We walked along the banks before heading across the islands on the lake. There were several interesting temples and pavilions dotted around
. We even found an ice sculpture house, which had loads of weird sculptures inside (it was so cold but a relief as it was so humid outside!). We even saw a Chinese game show being filmed, kinda like the ones on Japanese TV where people run through obstacles, stuff like that. We continued walking and eventually reached the World of Birds. This was a giant bird house with loads of different species, like Peacocks, geese, ducks and even a few Emu's! We left the Lake Park and crossed through the Ming City Walls, which encircle most of the old city, to the Jiming Temple. This was a pretty cool temple with a 7-story Pagoda where you got some good views of the city (or would have it it wasn't so polluted!). We then wondered down towards the Bell Tower which was housed inside a nice small park. We then crossed the main road over to the Drum Tower, which had some cool paintings inside.
On the 20th, we headed over to the Purple Mountain. The Mt was alot smaller than Taishan (only 448m high) but there were several sights to see around it. We started at the Ming City Palace ruins which basically consisted of a few column bases and a temple. We then walked out through the City Walls and along Qian Lake, which was nice. We then went to the Botanical Gardens where there were several gardens with trees, plants and ponds. Hiking up the Mt now, we ended up at the Purple Mountain Observatory, which had several observatory's and some exhibits about the observatory's history
. We were then going to take a cable car to the top but the area was so polluted you couldn't see anything, so we decided against it. Walking around the base of the Mt, we ended up at the Ming Xiaqing Tombs, which contained several large temples, some animal stone carvings and a peach blossom park (but no blossom was out). We then walked on to Dr Sun Yatsun's Mausoleum. This guy was the first president of China after overthrowing the Qing Empire, so he's pretty big in China. His mausoleum contained several impressive temples, with his crypt being housed in the biggest temple at the top of a huge flight of stairs. We continued to walk around the Mt base, walking past Dr Sun's Academy and his Memorial Hall before reaching the Linggu Temple complex. There were several impressive temples and pavilions like the Beamless Hall (called so as its made entirely of bricks with no supporting beams), along with another tall pagoda. Unfortunately, the views were hampered by pollution, again!
On the 21st, we decided to see the southern part of Nanjing. We started in Yuhuati Park, which was also the Martyr's Cemetery (dedicated to those rebelling against the Emperor). The Cemetery was impressive, with a number of large structures and statues. We continued on towards the Zhonghua Gate, the most fortified gate in the city. The gate was pretty cool with a number of exhibits about the gate. I even got to shoot a traditional Chinese bow (2 hits, 3 misses, one 7 and one 4) which was interesting
. We continued walking on towards the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom History Museum which housed exhibits about power struggles in China during the 19th century. We then went over to the Confucius Temple which was cool. The temple was surrounded by loads of antique and souvenir shops (shopping trip is being saved for Shanghai). We then caught the metro over to the Presidential Palace, which contained a number of historic buildings and temples. We then re-caught the metro towards the Olympic park (used for the football). We ended the day on a solum note in the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall. This place was built as a memorial to the thousands of Chinese people killed by the Japanese in 1937. It was very moving to see what happened to the people and how they struggled against Japanese oppression.
Well that about raps it up for Nanjing. We off to catch a high speed train to Suzhou and it's many gardens and parks.
Hope everyone is well and we'll see you all soon (1 week left to go)
Mark and Peter