Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hakuna Matata

It dawned on me Tuesday morning that I've been here for a little over a month. How time flies. I've seen 3 cities, met a lot of people, and finally started working. But that could be anywhere - you know you're in China (or at least not in the States anymore) when you see a parent holding his child over a trash can in the metro station so it can go to the bathroom. 

Now on to my wonderful weekend. First, it was sunny with blue skies - and you really come to appreciate those when they are usually gray from smog. Tuesday I went to the south part of the city. While not being able to find places is frustrating, when you find 2 places at the same time, it's fabulous. I went to the Zuanyuan Gardens, which also contained a museum about the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Rebellion. The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom was a military action that occurred after the Opium Wars, in which many foreign countries entered China, and eventually led to the people overthrowing the Qing (Ching) Dynasty. It was mostly in Chinese, of course, so I looked at the pictures and charts and artifacts and went on my way. 
Zuanyuan Gardens
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Ruler

The great thing about getting lost in gardens is that you find parts of it that you probably wouldn't have found otherwise, and you allow yourself more time to rest. The not-so-great thing about being lost in a garden is that you're lost and there are very few people whom you may be able to get to understand you to help you find your way out. Eventually though, you ask enough people and you find one who can point you on your way, and that is how I found the street to go to Zhonghua Gate.
Zhonghua Gate (behind the market)
View of Zhonghua Gate from the top

Zhonghua Gate is a massive and impressive section of the Nanjing Wall (Nanjing used to be a walled city) held together by a glutinous rice concoction on the south side of the city. It has four archways leading to mini-cities where invaders could be trapped if they managed to get inside part of the wall. There are crevices to hide soldiers and keep grain in case of war. 
Me & a soldier

After the gate, I found my way to Fuzimiao, or the Confucius Temple. I think it is one of the most famous in China. It is right on the river, and it has a neat statue of Confucius (who is 2562 years old this year if you were wondering), as well as some of his disciples lining the walk to his statue. It was simple and very nice, but I didn't find much of anything else noteworthy about it. After I left, I went to Bailuzhou (Egret) Park, took a walk around and saw the sunset over the lake before heading back to the hotel.
Tallest bronze Confucius statue in China

Bailuzhou Park
Then on Wednesday, I spent the entire day at Xuanwuhu Lake, the largest lake in Nanjing, with another Disney English FT. She's been in Nanjing for about 6 months, has gone to the lake several times, and still saw things she didn't know about while we were there. We climbed the eastern wall of Nanjing, took a quick tour of Jiming Temple, and talked about all the other trips we want to take while we're in China. It was very peaceful and relaxing and a good start to my second month in China.
Entrance to Xuanwuhu Lake
Part of Xuanwuhu Lake

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