Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Nanjing, China - 2006

In September, we spent a weekend in Nanjing, China and enjoyed it immensely. If you want to go directly to the photos, click here. Most have good titles and descriptions.

  • Purple Hills Scenic Area with Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum and other nearby attractions
  • Fuzimiao and City Wall


  • Presidential Palace Complex
  • Nanjing University


Nanjing was the capital of China during the Republic Period (1912 to 1949) and has loads of interesting things to do and see. I was feeling good about the trip even before it started since we had round trip train tickets (Shanghai/Nanjing - Nanjing/Shanghai) in hand and a hotel booked. It's only recently that one could easily buy round trip train tickets in China. Previously it was part of the travel routine to immediately head to the ticket queue after arriving at your destination to buy the return ticket Now, by paying a small surcharge one can buy both sets of tickets and have them delivered.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The sold-out 16:04 Shanghai to Nanjing train (about 70 RMB each) pulled out around 16:35, over 30 minutes late. Our fellow passengers included one guy with his folding bicycle and another guy with a hand truck full of shoe boxes.

As we passed through Suzhou an attendant came through selling dofu gan (dried tofu) a local specialty. Sun-Ling remembered back to her younger days when she used to ride the train between Hefei and Shanghai. She always looked forward to going through Suzhou as the local dofu gan is quite tasty and not “dry” at all. It’s tofu that has been dried, but then soaked in savory sauces. Yummy! And she added that it seemed they only sold it while going through Suzhou.

Got the usual “Welcome to Suzhou” text message on my cell phone as we approached Suzhou. Do cities do that in the US now?

Arrived at Nanjing Station about 7:20 PM. The new Nanjing Metro is co-located with the train station and we easily found the Metro entrance, bought 2 round, red tokens for 2 RMB each from the automatic machine and rode south 5 stops to Zhong Shan Rd.

After a routine missed turn, we wound up at the Fuchang Hotel, 75 Zhong Shan Rd. This fine art deco hotel was built in 1932; however, now the front facade is obscured by old sycamore trees, and the first floor lobby has been converted into shops.

After first being shown a quiet, back-facing room we opted for a front-facing double with a view of the street for 280 RMB per night, breakfast included. The room had twin beds, frig, safe, electric water heater, TV, closet, reading lights, slippers, desk, chair, toothbrush, and was clean and kept up.

Not too soon for me we headed out to nearby LP-recommended Harry’s Place for pizza and beer. I liked Harry’s Place, not only did they have 20% off on food after 8:30, but also 50% on drinks. The smiling waitress delivered 2 cold pints of Carlsberg, a coconut drink for Sun-Ling, one 9” veggie pizza, one order of home fry chips, and one order of home fry hash browns - all for 92 RMB, about $12 US.

Then back to the hotel to crash.

Saturday September 16, 2006

The plan for the day is Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum and Fuzimiao.

Up at 7:30, into the shower, and over to the adjoining Central Hotel for breakfast. It seems that the Fuchang is an annex of the Central and Fuchang guests can use Central’s facilities. Anyway, an excellent buffet breakfast with spreads of Chinese, American, European and Japanese food. I had an omelet, rice soup, cheese, bread, and coffee.

Then about 10 or so we headed out to catch a bus to Sun Yat-sen’s tomb. First let me explain a crucial fact. Sun Yat-sen’s Mandarin Chinese name is Sun Zhong Shan and he is most often referred to a just Zhong Shan. So Sun Yat-sen’s Tomb is also known as Zhong Shan Ling. Sun Yat-sen is acknowledged by most Chinese (even the Communist Party) to be the founder of the modern China and thus every town in China seems to have a Zhong Shan Rd and/or Zhong Shan Park.

After a detour to a local bookstore to buy a city map, we caught bus #9 and arrived a Zhong Shan Ling about 11AM. The clouds were giving way to sun as we bought our 80 RMB combo ticket (4 attractions total) and set out to climb the 392 wide steps up to the Mausoleum. There were many, many, people; locals and tourist who had come out to the green hills (actually called the Purple Hills Scenic Area) to see the tomb of Dr Sun who died in 1925 and was placed in his tomb in 1932. This monument to Dr Sun is wide open, grand, and reminded us of some of the European palace grounds we have visited.

Then we caught the free tram to the Linggu Temple and Pagoda, Beamless hall, and Tai Yan Kai tomb attractions. The pagoda, said to have been designed by an American, had ~240 steps up a spiral staircase to magnificent views of the surrounding hills and back to downtown Nanjing.

We ate lunch at the Pine Pavilion Vegetarian restaurant near Linggu Temple. 36 RMB for 2 bowls of noodle soup and one cold dish. A sign said there has been a vegetarian restaurant on that spot for 500 years.

After a visit to the Sun Yat-sen Museum, we caught bus Y2 to Fuzimiao, an area with a scenic canal, Confucius school, and tons of shops and restaurants. We rented an electric boat – 30 minutes for 25 RMB – and cruised down the canal towards Zhonghua Gate Castle and back. Then walked back to Zhonghua Gate, an impressive part of the old City Wall, and paid our 20 RMB each to wander around. Nanjing has an impressive amount of its old city wall still standing but exploring it will have to wait for another trip. Then back to Fuzimiao, and eventually after much searching had dinner at a Korean restaurant: 87 RMB for 2 beers, a pancake, and a stone bowl. Taxied back to the hotel. Had a long, long, long, wait for hot water in the bathroom. Why? Why? Why? And crashed.

SLHOTD: Zhong Shan Ling. Very impressive with the 392 steps, blue tile roofs, simple design, and gold letters. Note the old photo of "The Chinese delegation to the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936 having memorial services at Sun Yatsen's Mausoleum just before departure."

Zhong Shan Ling - Sun Yat Sen Tomb
Chinese 1936 Olympic Delegation
Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum
Zhong Shan Ling - Sun Yat Sen Tomb

John’s miscellaneous notes on the day:
o Missed a great photo of a mobile bicycle repair shop.
o Got an OK photo of a traditional popcorn vendor with bellows and cannon.
o Roasted chestnuts are in.
oWalked by the full St Paul’s Church while we were searching for a restaurant.

Sunday, September 17, 20

Slept in to 8:00 AM .

Over to the Central for a tasty breakfast: omelet, coffee, youtiao (fried breadsticks), pastries, cake, and a cheese sandwich.

Packed our bags, paid the bill, checked out, and left our bags with the front desk. The total bill was for one night only (280 RMB) due to the hot water incident from the previous night.

We started up Chang Jiang Lu towards the Presidential Palace. We stopped at several Republic Era buildings including the Art Museum, Hanfu Hotel, and Culture Center.

Around the Presidential Palace are a brand new library (huge) and a shopping complex called 1912. We walked 340 degrees around the PP before finding the entrance. This gave us a chance to spot the Hot Café with its Che Guevara mural.

We spent about 3 hours touring the Presidential Palace complex - 40 RMB each. It’s very interesting and most sites are well marked and described in English; and there are several Museums. The art deco buildings in Nanjing are cool. There are several in the PP complex and more in other parts of Nanjing. Sun-Ling wants to return to Nanjing to visit all 60 some of them.
By 3PM we were worn out and headed over to the Tea Station at 1912 for a snack: 1 huge mango ice (see photo), 1 Iced Coffee, Tiramisu, and Chocolate black Forrest Cake (83 RMB).

After sitting for awhile, we caught bus #95 to Nanjing University. After a quick tour of the nearby Drum Tower (5 RMB each) we toured NJU from north to south, including the Ferguson Library. Then headed over to Shanghai Lu for some cheap western eats at the Skyways Bakery: Cheese Sandwich and drink for 18 RMB each. Bought some snacks “to go”, took a taxi back to Fuchang hotel, picked up our bags, and road the Metro 5 stops to the train station. Train T717 pulled out on time at 7:24 PM and the rest of the trip was almost uneventful.

SLHOTD: The old photos in the PP museums.

JHOTD: Watching SL eat her Mango Ice.Icecream

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