If the blog has seemed a little quiet lately, one of the reasons why is that I was out of town for a few weeks…to visit one of my best friends in China! She’s living out there now, and we hadn’t seen each other in SEVEN YEARS!! So a trip was long overdue…
It took me a couple of days to get there, and believe it or not, the cost of going there wasn’t too bad. In fact, it cost me the same to fly to Beijing as it does for me to visit New Brunswick. (A bit less, actually!!!)
I spent most of my time in Beijing, but the first few days of my trip were spent in Nanjing. (The names of the cities translate to “North capital” and “South capital.”) The high-speed train to Nanjing took about 4 hours. It travelled most of the time at 303 km/hr, and stopped at a number of places in between.
Lots of lights in the Confucian Temple district of Nanjing
A food vendor in Nanjing
One of the things I wanted to make sure I visited in Nanjing was the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, since I had taken a course on Modern East Asian history in university, which discussed the massacre at length. The museum was a very moving tribute to the 300,000 victims of the massacre.
At the Nanjing Massacre memorial museum.
The archives area of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial museum. You could take these boxes/folders off the wall (at least, I saw other do so!) and inside, there were photocopied, laminated papers.
One of the other things we did in Nanjing was visit Zijin Shan, the Purple-Gold Mountain. There were all sorts of places to visit up there, but we went on the first day of the Plum Blossom festival, so we wanted to see some plum blossoms, plus we went to some Ming tombs.
At the Ming Tombs at the Zijin Mountain area.
At the Imperial tombs, looking out from the wall in the previous photo.
Taking a break on a little gazebo on the Purple-Gold Mountain. (And look! No jacket!! It was about 12 degrees there.)
We met some very friendly people at Zijin Shan, especially at the “Purple Glow Lake,” where we had a lengthy conversation with some regular visitors, plus some university students who showed us where to find the plum blossoms. They were lovely, and made our trip to the mountain a memorable one. They probably won’t read this, but if they do, I want to tell them we enjoyed our time with them greatly.
Nanjing was a very beautiful city. All over the place, large trees grew out over the streets. Had we come later in the spring, or in the summer, it would have been wonderfully green and shady. (Nice, too, because Nanjing is apparently very hot in the summers, earning a name as one of China’s “four furnaces.”)
The old and the new in Nanjing. We are on the old city wall.
On the Nanjing city wall.
These little tokens were what you used to get on the subway. They cost 2 (or 3 or 4, depending how far you were going) and you would wave them over a sensor to get into the subway system, then you’d deposit them in the turnstile on the way out.
The rest of my time was spent in Beijing. It was pretty smoggy there, and the pollution was making international news when I was there. It was indeed pretty thick! The sun was obscured by the smog, much as it was last summer during the big forest fires in Labrador and Quebec. You couldn’t even see buildings more than a few hundred metres away.
Looking at the entrance to the Forbidden City from Tianamen Square. Notice the smog.
The next day, we had clear skies! This is also in Tianamen Square…this is looking at Mao’s mausoleum.
Inside the Forbidden City
When I travel, one of the things I love to visit are museums and historical sites. Well, there was NO END to all the historial sites in Beijing! (Nor Nanjing, for that matter.) One day, I decided to stop into the National Museum of China (free with passport!). If you go there, definitely check out the basement for an overview of Chinese history. I could have just went through the basement and have been happy with it. However, I went there last…after going all over the rest of the museum! The gallery of gifts from other countries was pretty cool, too.
In the National Museum of China.
In the national museum, there was a gallery of gifts from heads of state to China. Here is one of the gifts from Canada! (Inuit sculptures seem to be a popular head-of-state gift from what I can tell…I wonder if any Labrador artists’ work has made it to far-off collections like this one?)
An imposing government building.
I visited lots of official sites, but especially in the first few days I spent in Beijing, I mostly wandered around the city on foot, wandering in and out of hutongs (neighbourhoods in little alleyways dating back to medieval times). I drank lots of tea. Food in Beijing is generally cheap compared to here, and delicious! I tried Uighur food (yummy! Just thinking about their nang is making my stomach rumble), food from Yunnan province, donkey burgers (“In heaven, there is dragon meat, but on earth, there is donkey meat.”) and lots and lots of dumplings and steamed buns. I miss the food TERRIBLY.
Chips are my favourite kind of junk food, so I was excited to try some different flavours…this “Numb and Spicy hotpot” flavour was pretty good!
My friend’s neighbourhood was full of cat cafes and stores dedicated to all things cat…this was in one of the cat cafes, where you can pet the cats while hanging out. I had a delicious masala chai latte there.
In the Nanluoguxiang district (a gentrified hutong area that caters to tourists) I saw some signs that I found interesting…apparently intangible cultural heritage is important to the people of this neighbourhood too!
When I first saw this, I did a double-take. I had a totally different idea of seal carving! haha
In the parks on Sundays, seniors could be found putting on performances all over the place!
I had to take this picture for Daphne…there is a chain of shoe-and-handbag shops called Daphne there!! I was going to buy Daphne a bag with her name on it, but they were a little pricy. (And not to mention, I ran out of space in my suitcase by the end of my trip! Sorry Daphne!)
Of course, I had to visit the Great Wall of China!
On the chair lift up to the Mutianyu part of the wall.
On the Great Wall.
I went up the wall on the chair lift, but came down on the toboggan! It was a lot of fun.
I’ve only given a brief overview (haha!) of my trip, but seeing as this is the Them Days blog, and not a travel blog, I shall end it there. I had a wonderful time!
Thanks for looking at my photos! 🙂