For the fourth weekend in a row of traveling, I packed my backpack with the necessities for an overnight stay in the city of Nanjing. Nanjing, the capital of the Jiangsu province, is a city of 8 million people about an hour bullet train ride from Shanghai. Besides being another massive Chinese city, Nanjing is known for its plethora of historical sites as well as being one of the most important and fastest growing cities in China.
I've ridden on this bullet train multiple times by now, but it seems that I always forget to take pictures. This time I didn't forget! I waited until the train reached speeds above 300 km/hr, then quickly snapped a shot! The screen that you see below is from the front of the car. Each car has a mirror-like display that shows its passengers necessary information such as the speed, time of day, and sometimes the temperature.
Once arriving at the train station, my two friends and I joined the obnoxious crowds of people waiting for a taxi. On another side note, it was EXTREMELY hot and humid that Friday afternoon. Hot weather combined with crowds of people is not the most enjoyable combination. However, we did arrive at the street where our hostel was located.
Below is a picture of our really cool and cozy hostel!
We loved how animal-friendly the hostel was. Outside they had a bunny who had just given birth to three little baby rabbits!
Here is a picture of our room (my roommate and I shared while my friend booked a dorm), and then some more pictures of the garden at the hostel.
Once we were all settled in, we decided to do a little scenic tour. It was about 5PM, so we knew that we needed to find something that was visible at night. We ended up going to the Confucius Temple and Qin Huai River.
Before we even found the river and temple, we ran into an entire street lined with street food. I only became excited when I found my favorite red bean soup!
As we wandered around, we came upon a bunch of older-looking buildings; however, it was apparent that we were located in some sort of touristy area because the shopkeepers were all selling the same type of touristy items.
After turning onto random back roads, we finally made it to a main street and the Confucius Temple!
There were a ton of people everywhere, so we ended up not going into the temple. Sometimes it seems that once you've seen one temple you've seen them all - or most of them anyway. The Qin Huai River is located right in front of the temple. It was cool to see the lights turn on as the sun began to set.
After a quick bite to eat, my friends and I decided to take a boat-ride down the river. We weren't exactly sure what we would see on the river, but I definitely didn't expect the series of light shows that went on as we floated.
As you can see, our boat was a little rustic, but it was definitely really cool! I recommend paying the RMB60 for a boat tour down the river. We were on there for about 35-40 minutes. What was really funny about the whole experience was that there was a woman driving the boat in stilettos! So crazy!
The lights were so beautiful, I couldn't stop taking pictures!
Besides watching all of the light fixtures as we floated by, there were performers on random platforms at different places along the river. One man, in particular, was playing "A Whole New World" on the saxophone!
You can see below just how gross and tired we were from the heat by the end of the boat ride.
After doing one more walk around the town, we headed back to our hostel to get some rest for day two of our adventure in Nanjing.
The next morning we woke up relatively early in order to go see some scenic spots outside of the city. As we were walking to go get breakfast, however, I noticed a crafty way to make a fence more deadly. I'm not sure if you can quite see it in the pictures, but someone had cemented pieces of glass onto the top of a brick wall. I thought it was pretty clever.
While my one friend and I got some pancakes at McDonalds (it was the only place open early in the morning), my roommate was haggling with some old women for what looked like "ancient" artifacts.. in the end we convinced her not to buy anything. Things may look old in China, but trust me, it's really easy for people to get antiquated artifacts hot off the press at the factory.
As we were walking down the street attempting to hail a cab (getting a cab is always so much more difficult anywhere we go!), we ran into some more street food.
I found this purple ball with sesame seeds and decided it was too colorful not to try! I forget what it was called in Chinese, but in English they said it was a purple potato. It didn't really taste like a potato. It actually didn't have too much of a taste, but it wasn't bad. I think I was more thrilled that I didn't get sick afterwards!
Finally we got a cab and headed to our first scenic spot: Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum. The Mausoleum is located in the Zhong Mountain Scenic Area right outside to the city. The mausoleum was created specifically for Dr. Sun Yat-sen, also known as the father of the Republic of China. The beautiful architecture and scenery surrounding the area make it one of the most popular places to see in Nanjing. There was also no entrance fee!
The only drawback to the mausoleum was that it was extremely crowded. There were people EVERYWHERE!
It was a long trek up the stairs too!
Along the way, we ran into some younger Chinese teens. Can you say photo-op?
Finally we reached the top. Even though there was no sun, and it was a good bit colder than the day before, the view was still magnificent!
After taking a quick look at the Dr. we decided to head back down to our next destination. On the way down, though, we ran into more Chinese students who wanted some pictures. It's always fun briefly talking with the Chinese students, and it makes me feel good because they always seem so happy after they get their picture. If only it was so easy to make everyone happy by taking a picture!
Our next stop on the trip was the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, one of the biggest imperial tombs in China. The tomb holds the bodies of the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty and Queen Ma.
Below you can see my friends having a little bit of fun as we walked over bridges to the mausoleum.
The area was huge, and we even saw what looked to be temple ruins!
Don't judge me, but for some reason I love the doors to Chinese temples. I always need a picture with them! This red door reminded me of one I posed with in Beijing.
Attempt at a jumping picture..
On the way down from the mausoleum, my friends and I saw an old Chinese man doing a headstand in the middle of one of the gardens. It was crazy how long the man was upside down for, and in perfect form too! After he stood upright again, my friend asked him if he could try to do a handstand with him. After a minute of failure, my friend just decided to do some Tai Chi.
As we were exiting the mausoleum, we came across a pathway filled with concrete military-men.
I was so excited to get a picture with one!
By the way, I found a ton of signs throughout the scenic area; however, this one is the best by far! Read it and get a good laugh.
After the soldiers, we came across a path with awkwardly shaped horse statues. They were cool nonetheless - I wanted to hop on, but not only was there no way to climb up those things, I was in a dress and it would probably have been a little disrespectful. We decided to feed them instead!
Once we were satisfied with our sightseeing at the Ming Tomb, my friends and I caught another cab to what is considered to be the best Buddhist temple in the world: Linggu Temple.
Another door picture..
Within the temple grounds there is a huge pagoda known as the Linggu Pagoda. It is a massive pagoda, probably the biggest one I've seen so far in China.
Before climbing it, however, we all posed for another photo session.
Unlike the pagoda in Hangzhou, this pagoda did not have any elevator. We ended up walking up nine flights of dizzying spiral stairs.
The temporary dizziness was well worth the beautiful view at the end!
Through the haze you could see the outline of the city of Nanjing.
After the pagoda, we hit up the last site in the Linggu Temple scenic area. This was a temple that was actually constructed in 2005 in order to resemble the authentic temple-style.
My roommate was finally able to hang up her wish. Each red ribbon holds a wish from someone who has visited the temple.
After a long day of sightseeing, all of us were ready for a good meal. We remembered a street by our hostel that had a bunch of "Italian" restaurants. In particular, one of the restaurants was a pizza parlor. At first we were a little skeptical, but we were so hungry by the end of the day that we didn't even care what the pizza tasted like.
To our surprise, the pizza was amazing! It was comparable to and maybe even a little better than New York pizza. I know that is a big statement to make, but the pizza was handmade, in a brick oven, with freshly imported ingredients. I had never felt so good after eating a meal in China!
We even met the chef! He's a young Chinese man who speaks almost perfect English and was extremely cool. He had studied in places such as Dubai, Italy, etc. etc. and became a top chef at his school in a matter of a year and a half! It was definitely a good end to our brief trip to Nanjing.
If anyone visits China for an extended period of time, I definitely recommend going to Nanjing. It's a really awesome city with a ton of history that will keep you busy for a good two days or more. This coming weekend I will be traveling yet again. My next destination is Inner Mongolia, so make sure to keep checking back!