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The Adventurer’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 08 Feb 2007

Location: Nanjing, China

MapA fine few days it has been! My day got frustrating before I went to dinner as I went to a travel agency to make some arrangements. They were useless. First there was the language barrier, and then moments of bluntly ignoring me. I left the office in a huff and walked it off. The night turned out well as we went for Chinese dinner and then drinks with Joanne's roomates and coworkers.

Wednesday was also a busy day as Joanne, her roomate Ted, and I went out on the town touring. We started in an area called Old Town, an older part of Shanghai. Stopped at a bazaar (a market) to check out the stuff they were selling. You can definitely see that Chinese New Year is looming as they have hordes of decorations for sale. Ted parted ways with us early, and Joanne and I went to check out a Daoist Temple. This one was very different from the Buddhist temples I've seen in Korea--check out the pictures. After the temple, I found a traveling companion who will be joining me on the rest of my trip. His name is Waldo and he's a little wooden pig I picked up in a store. Since I won't have a lot of people pictures I needed something extra to add to my pictures. You'll be seeing lots of Waldo in the coming weeks, though he's not very useful for navigational purposes.

The highlight of the day was the YuYuan gardens, made in the 16th century and very beautiful. China has some of the most beautiful landscaping I've ever seen, and really know how to beautify a place with nature.

We then went to the French concession, which is an area with French architecture, though Chinese in terms of the people. They had some beautiful mansions along the way and some trendy little pubs, restaurants, and shops. Nice place for a stroll. We ended up going out for a Russian dinner with Joanne and her coworkers--funny, my first time trying Russian in China. Very delicious though, lots of beet root kind of dishes. We concluded the evening early, as I was heading out early in the morning.

Conclusions about Shanghai: great place! It's got quite a mix of old and new, and is a city full of energy, and I loved how it is landscaped with modern architecture, plants, trees, and flowers. There is still some pollution here, but that's to be expected in China. I found the people friendlier than Beijing, and I became quite adept at warding off the street vendors trying to sell you "Rolex" watches, bags, art, and a plethora of other things. You basically don't bother with a hello or anything and they'll say a few words and leave you alone. And there are still a lot of beggars around. Ironically, I noticed it more in Shanghai than in Beijing, maybe because I expected it less in Shanghai.

I caught the 8:45 am train to Nanjing this morning and arrived at 11 am. This was a nice train that I'm guessing was one of the newest ones in China. Tried to buy my train ticket for Xi'an for tonight, but the tickets were sold out, so I'm here until tomorrow.

To top that off, my main reason (but not the only one) for coming to Nanjing was to see the Memorial of the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. The Japanese came in and massacred the city, torturing and killing thousands mercilessly, and is now known as the Rape of Nanking (the title of the current book I'm reading). I won't go into details, but some of the atrocities have been considered worse than those that occurred during the Holocaust. I discovered that the memorial is closed, so I won't get to see it. However, it's kind of eerie (for lack of a better word) being here knowing what occurred.

Anyway, my hotel is really nice, paid about $15 US, small but comfortable and I didn't have to share a room with anyone. It is actually at a university with a nice campus. You'll see in the pictures that some of the buildings where they have classes are in what looks like former temple buildings. It'd be a cool place to study.

Off to explore now....