This trip nearly didn’t happen. We planned to go to Nanjing when my leg was still pretty bad,and booked the hotel,and bought bus tickets. Then the day before,Danny also had some health issues,and I had excruciating pain in my leg. But we thought what the hell let’s go anyway as in any case it was too late to cancel the hotel.So we thought “Worst case scenario we will just have to take taxis”.So we headed down to the bus station for a 5 hour journey. At the campus bus station we ran into 3 students of mine who were also going away-where? TO Nanjing! Great we said you can help us to buy the return tickets to Lin’an when we arrive at the bus station there. They were only too delighted to help us. At Nanjing they also helped us find bus number 2 to reach our hotel,even to the point of missing a bus to come and fetch us to the bus station when they saw us staring at a bus map in bewilderment.On the bus another friendly soul volunteered to help us find our hotel when we got off at the right bus stop. AS I limped to the hotel I thought “this is going to be tricky”. That evening,having booked into the wonderful Hotel Orange complete with Andrew the Goldfish in our room,we set off on foot to find the Confucius Temple,an old building once used for Examinations for the Government,and now the site of a buzzing night market which backs onto the river,which is all illuminated at night,and where you can for the whopping sum of 60 RMB per person sail in a gondola. We declined.But while photographing the sites we were hailed by my three students again- Ava,Carol and Sherry who happily took photos with us.
WE then found a place to eat and staggered home by taxi,my leg was throbbing but found Nanjing to be a vibrant and exciting city with a lovely feel to it.
Next day we got the metro (very clean modern and easy to use with English instructions on the machines) to the Mausoleum of Sun Yat Sen,which is located in the scenic area of Purple Mountain. This is a beautiful mountain full of lakes,and hiking trails with many sites but we had only time to see one.My leg was still pretty bad, but amazingly,after I made it to the top of the 300 odd steps up to the Mausoleum,I suddenly discovered my leg was a lot better! We watched the little kids in their uniform (don’t know if it was school or some youth movement) scampering easily up to the top,and bowing at the statue inside the Mausoleum. If you want to know more about Sun Yat Sen and the historical context,just google it. I just know he overthrew the last Emperor and fought for the Republican forces.
After the visit to the Mausoleum we took a taxi to the Gate of China, Zhonghuamen. This is one of the old gates in the ancient city wall. The city of Nanjing was once the capital of China and it has many interesting historical sites. Of course with only 2 days to see it we were pretty limited,and had to choose which to see.We were happy with this one as it was interesting and reminded us a bit of the Old City walls in Jerusalem,and looked a bit like Jaffa Gate.We did not however, pay 35 RMB each to climb onto the walls,mainly because of my leg.
WE then went to look for a place to eat,finally eating in the metro underneath Xinjiekou,the main crossroads in downtown. We tried to find a restaurant up above and found nothing. Going down into the metro we were overwhelmed by lots of little restaurants,mostly selling Japanese or Chinese fast foods,but all very cheap and varied. We ate in a Japanese chain,which was clean,cheap and delicious! What more could you ask for?
THen we went off on the metro again to meet with Andrew,another foreign teacher who is working at the Nanjing Audit University. We had a couple of beers with him in a bar full of foreigners called Secco.We went to bed earlyish since we were exhausted and Andrew had to get up for class the next day.Next morning we took the bus home to Lin’an at 10 am. We thoroughly enjoyed the city of Nanjing and hope to return another time.