Thursday, May 31, 2012

2 Worlds, 1 Family

For the past month, I have been hanging around Nanjing. I went to the mountain, explored some parks, laid around the house. 

This week, my parents and my brother arrived in China. My parents were here to see me. My brother was here because it's China (I think). They spent a few days in Beijing and arrived in Nanjing Monday afternoon. After getting my parents settled in their hotel (Hilton Nanjing - very nice) and visiting my apartment (where Steven was staying), I walked them to work where they looked around, and then we had dinner. Then my parents went to sleep, and I took Steven out around town, and we ended up hanging out at my friend's apartment. 

Tuesday, Steven and I went to the hotel for breakfast with my parents, and I hung out at the hotel while my family went to the Massacre Museum. Then we got in a cab and went to Purple Mountain. I had decided to take the cable way to the top of the mountain to get a view of Nanjing. However, it was very gray out. About halfway up, it got very windy and the cable cars started to sway. I also found out that my mother had wanted to see Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum. Oops. At the top, I pointed out some of the mountain's sights and we took some pictures. Then we walked down the mountain and went to dinner at the local mall. My parents went back to the hotel, and Steven and I went home and rested before going out for our second dinner - dog. 

I had successfully avoided this until my brother came to town and said he wanted to eat something weird. Nothing I suggested was weird enough, but my friend suggested this and Steven agreed, so Tuesday night we got 2 plates full of dog meat, put it in soup and ate. The parts that weren't super fatty actually didn't taste too bad, basically like any other type of meat. I only had a few pieces, as I was still disturbed by the fact that it was, in fact, dog. 

The next day was gray again. I took my mom for a foot massage while my dad repacked and my brother did something else. We got noodles for lunch and spent the afternoon in the hotel. A lot of the stuff to do and see in Nanjing is outside, and it was not an outdoors day. But they needed rest, and I got to swim in the fancy hotel pool and nap in a soft bed, so it all worked out. We went to a steak dinner and said goodnight. 

They left this morning for Shanghai for a few days, and I got back to work. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

One Jump

Last week, Andrew (from Chinese embassy and Xi'an) came to Nanjing to start his vacation. We went to Xuanwumen Lake and the Yuhuatai area and he did other exploring when I was at work. Sunday night, we took the train up to Beijing. 

Monday we met up with 2 girls whom Andrew had met when they slept on his couch in Xi'an a few weeks prior (Lara and Sissi) and their new roommate (Monique). We went to the Forbidden City. As someone mentioned (I forget who), it's not so forbidden anymore. It was also a holiday, so there were masses upon masses upon masses of people. 
We saw about a quarter of it as we shuffled around. The garden was nice. Then we went far far away for some peking duck. Then Lara, Sissi, and Andrew went to find a camera shop, while I went with Monique to pick up her ticket for the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and I picked up a business card for future reference. We all met up later to walk through the night market. 
Forbidden City

Tuesday, Andrew and I moved from our hostel to room with Lara and Sissi at their hostel, which was more centrally located. (Monique had left for her big railroad trip.) Eventually, we headed off for the Summer Palace. We spent a majority of the day exploring some parts of that, including taking a boat ride on the lake and climbing a very steep hill to see the Hall of Buddhist Incense. Chinese emperors definitely knew how to take up a lot of space with their palaces - it was ridiculously huge. 
Hall of Buddhist Incense on Longevity Hill
Wednesday was GREAT. Woke up early, got the train, bus, and taxi to Mutianyu, a slightly less touristy part of the Great Wall of China. The sun was out and the sky was blue. It was even more awesome than I thought it could be. The mountains were huge. Took a cable car up to the top and we walked from Tower 6 past Tower 1 where the wall wasn't so well preserved back to Tower 14 (there are 23 towers on this section) then to Tower 6 to toboggan to the bottom. The views were incredible. The climbs were steep and the stairs sloped to the side. The breezes in the towers were life-saving. It was glorious. We then went back to the city, and the three went to get haircuts and I went to see Tian'amen Square at night. Very pretty.
Can you believe I walked this?

Thursday was my last day in Beijing. I woke up early again, walked around Tian'amen Square, and headed toward the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is really the Hall of Prayer for the Harvests, but it has a great big garden and a marble altar for sacrifices and was very pretty. Picked up my bag and got a train ticket back to Nanjing. 
View of Tian'amen Square

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (AKA Temple of Heaven)