The photos are from our weekend in Nanjing, which proved to be a far more successful and comprehensive visit than last time
. We visited a 14th Century defensive gate, walked along part of the ancient city walls, and went to a memorial to the Nanjing massacre where 300,000 innocent people were slaughtered by the Japanese army in 1937. The memorial was probably my favourite part of the weekend despite it being deeply disturbing, and I came away with a humbling sense of sobriety a greater affinity with the Chinese people. This was another occasion where the barriers that usually keep people apart such as language, culture, and race, were transcended by stronger and more permanent basic human qualities, in this case the abhorrence of cruelty and sorrow for the dead. The memorial did a lot to harness this sense of solidarity, and turned what could easily have been a cheap and emotive piece of propaganda into a genuine human tribute and a commendable appeal for a peaceful future.
Other than that we also found time to visit an enormous English language book shop, eat a curry, and walk around Confucius Temple, the area we were staying in. It was a very lively little neighbourhood with outdoor markets, street food, and luminous lanterns strewn across the banks of the canals. I wish my camera was better with night shots, but you just about get the idea. And if anyone is curious, there were no panda sightings this time round, but I did get myself a t-shirt with a panda on it, which is basically the same thing.
I recently dicovered that in China you must add a year to your actual age as you are considered to be one year old when you are born. Therefore with the passing of my birthday last week I skipped being 23 and leapt straight to 24, and I'm not very happy about it. It was nice, however, to receive so many birthday wishes from people I haven't seen in a while, so thank you for your kind thoughts. Before coming to China I had thought of my birthday as an occasion where I was likely to dwell on all the home comforts I used to take for granted. Fortunately this turned out to not be the case, and the day passed by much like any other birthday would. Of course I was reminded of home and couldn't help but wish I could see my friends and family, but it was reassuring to find that these thoughts were merely fond reflections and not reasons for discontent.