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秋春粉墨

若兰的上海生活

 
 
 

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Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京!  

2012-11-02 14:54:34|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨

I went to Nanjing!!

For someone who was going to study Japanese and Chinese relations, to me the word 'Nanjing' is pretty much synonymous with the word "Nanjing massacre."

Nanjing was the old capital of China before Mao's reign.  As the Japanese like to deny (but is so horrifically true), Nanjing was invaded by the Japanese during WW2 and was literally raped and pillaged.  The Nanjing massacre is up there in one of the world's worst atrocities, following the holocaust and Stalin's leadership over The Soviet Union. 

Before the WW2 massacre, however, Nanjing was a place for royalty, for the educated, the traders--basically, it the epicenter of southern China.  It was the center of history and culture for much of ancient China and even into the pre-westernized China.

I don't know why, but I always put off seeing the city of Nanjing despite living in Shanghai for almost two years (Nanjing is only a 2 hour train ride away).  After visiting Hangzhou and Suzhou (two nearby cities) I was pretty much hopeless about going anywhere else in China that wasn't Shanghai or Beijing.  Shanghai and Beijing are the two most developed cities in China, and let's just say it shows.  When I live in Shanghai the quality of life doesn't differ much from that of Tokyo or Salt Lake City, but when you set foot into Hangzhou, Suzhou, or anywhere that ISN'T Shanghai the fact that China is a developing country smacks you right in the face.

People shitting in the street, black taxis haggling you as soon as you get off the train, people selling rotted food in the street, scraps of food and garbage everywhere, black sidewalks and streets, people spitting and shoving with vigor, inconvenient transportation, the probability of being cheated increasing by ten fold, pollution in the air-----

...Basically, I've been spoiled by Shanghai.

ANYWAY, I was expecting Nanjing to be the same.  However, to my surprise, Nanjing was a beautiful place.

Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
 
Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
 
Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨

Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
 
When I arrived in Nanjing, I wasn't greeted to people peeing near my foot or people literally dragging me by the arm to pay money for a tour group.  Instead, I was greeted to a city with a SUBWAY SYSTEM!  It was clean, the people were nice and friendly, and by god the infamous 玄武湖 Xuanwu Lake was almost as beautiful as West Lake in Hangzhou (Xuanwu lake also lacks the crowd, pollution, and traffic of West Lake!). 
 
Nanjing felt like the perfect balance between big city and countryside.  It had ancient Chinese charm, but it was still developed enough to have convenient transportation and big shopping malls for those days when you need to escape into 'western culture.'  People actually smiled at me and talked, and the pace of life there seemed to be slower and more at ease than the crazy, over-stressed society that is Shanghai.

My good friend Macro (born in Japan, raised in Nanjing, and now back in Japan working) came back to Nanjing to do some paperwork for his new Japanese work visa, so I saw it as the perfect opportunity to have a local take me around the town while catching up on over two years of not seeing each other.

Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
 
We ate lunch in this SUPER CHINESE Nanjing restaurant, which served food I have yet to eat in China (and believe me, I thought I had eaten almost everything here).  I didn't take a picture of the food (damn!) but it was sweet and savory (just as food from the south should be) and it was absolutely amazing.  I even had something called 山药, which looked like a churro but was mysteriously named "mountain medicine."  I soon found it was a weird form of potato cut up and fried with sweetness, and damn was it good.  The best dish was called 狮子头 (Lion's head), a soup with this huge ass ball of meat in it with other vegetables that was AWESOME!! 

Afterwards we went to the most famous tourist spot in Nanjing, which is Sun Yat Sen's (孙中山)mausoleum.

Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
 
Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
 
Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
This picture sucks, sorry.

If you don't know who Sun Yat Sen is, that's ok, because before I came to China I was oblivious as well.  Basically, people like to call him the "Father of Modern China."  The last dynasty in China (Qing Dynasty) treated its citizens like crap and was basically running China into a hole of debt and going nowhere, while countries like America were preaching this belief called democracy.  The whole world was adapting a centralized, westernized government while China was still worshiping emperors and whatnot.  Basically it's thanks to this guy that China was united and lifted out of its archaic ways into a new future.  He has nothing to do with communism, by the way.  His party actually ended up fighting the communists and were forced to flee to Taiwan.

I know this figure is basically the most revered person in Chinese history, but I was absolutely floored to go to the this mausoleum and see people on their knees, hands clasped and worshiping him.  The base of this statue was littered in flowers brought by tourists, and there were a handful of people facing Sun Yat Sen and praying.

Seeing that moved me... and... well... made me happy.  Sun Yat Sen is a historical figure I highly respect and definitely need to do more research on.  I'm glad the Chinese people feel the same, even after taking in so much goddamn propaganda.

Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
 
Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨

The area of the mausoleum itself was like a giant forest.  The trees were beginning to fade into their autumn yellow, and I walked down the rows of trees in peaceful silence, taking in the atmosphere of Nanjing.  It's absolutely beautiful.

Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
 
Nanjing Nanjing! 南京南京! - maryhalloran - 秋春粉墨
 
My friend (who is crazy rich) treated us to this fancy Chinese dinner.  This was only the beginning, it was like a 10 course meal full of weird Chinese delicacies...  By the end of the meal there was nowhere to put all of the bowls and dishes.  It was awesome!

Talking to the two of them was hilarious and enjoyable... definitely a great memory of Nanjing for me.

Overall, my impression of Nanjing was awesome and I would love to go back there again someday and take in the sights a little more slowly next time.  Yesterday was one sight after the next, and when I finally arrived back in Shanghai at midnight I was utterly exhausted.

Tonight our entire translation/interpreting class will be going out for dinner and karaoke.  Chinese people love to sing karaoke sober, but not me (nor J).  The two of us are planning on pre-gaming it a bit at the bar near our dorms. 

Well, until next time!
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