Han Blue Dragon, World, China

Spring Festival 2015 – Day 4

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Spring Festival 2015 – Day 4
Nanjing, Jiangsu 04.02.2015
Relaxing Lazy Walk
Since my train leaving Nanjing was early the next morning I saved all the things that were close to my hostel for the last day. So I went to the Taiping Rebellion Museum that was near where I went to the bank and I went to the Zhonghua gate.

The Taiping Rebellion is something that a lot of people forget about when it comes to Chinese history. I learned about it in Chinese history class. The Taiping Rebellion was a peasant uprising led by Hong Xiuquan that began in 1850 and ended in 1864 and established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864) right in the middle of the Qing Dynasty. It started in Guangxi Province and their capital was in Nanjing. They got support from the peasants because they mainly ran on equalising the wealth between the poor and the wealthy and the equality of woman. The leader Hong Xiuquan said that he had a vision where he was the younger brother of Jesus (he was God’s son by his mother and his mother’s husband was his step-father, so he was Jesus’ much younger half sibling) and briefly converted China to his form of Christianity. So really I don’t know how people could forget China’s brief stint into ‘Christianity’ or running on the platform of Woman’s Equality.
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They did do a lot of what they promised, or at least tried to. One of things that they said they would do in the beginning was redistribute the farming land so each person had an equal portion (or that the portion of land that you owned was directly correlated to the amount of people in your family).

The museum was hard to find, even though it should have been more obvious. I took the metro to SanShanJie (三山街), I left exit 4 and walked down JinShaJing (金沙井) to ZhongHuaLu (中华路) which was where the Bank of China was. I crossed to the Bank of China side of the street and walked right away from the intersection and then took a left on Zhanyuan Rd. The museum was supposed to be on the left about 56 metres later. On the walk I saw this little door that had a bonsai rock garden type thing inside of it. I didn’t know what the building was but there really wasn’t anything blocking access except a small sign in Chinese (which I believe says park Exit). I skipped it though and continued on.

I was getting worried about finding the museum when I came across what appeared to be a temple gate, but ended up being a gate for some gardens instead. I knew that there was supposed to be gardens attached to the museum but I couldn’t find the museum on their map. I asked about the museum and the man pointed to a building on the map that was labelled differently then what I had for the museum name. I bought a ticket and went in. According to the map the museum was sort of right centre of the complex, but the first building I came across was the museum.

The museum was good packed full of information. There was a lot of English, but then it would skip huge chunks in English when there were Chinese language labels. It was the first mention of the Opium Wars that I have seen in a museum in China (I’m not counting Hong Kong). There is apparently a museum dedicated to the Opium Wars in Shandong Province that I have to check out. But regular museums even when they include the Qing Dynasty usually skip the Opium Wars. But it is important to remember that Foreigners helped the Qing Dynasty to defeat the Taiping Rebellion in part for the trade agreements of things such as Opium for Tea.

The museum was jamb packed with information but still small so when I finished I figured that I should walk around the gardens. It was a typical Chinese garden: rocks, ponds, pavilions, stairs and trees mostly bonsai type trees. When I found a map of the garden it said that I was at the top left corner of the complex. Which was confusing because the museum was supposed to be mid-right and the gate that I came in was at the bottom of the complex towards the middle. There was a label for a Rising Moon Pavilion and I tried to find it—and failed.

I would walk in the direction that the map told me to go and then the next map would lead me in a new direction or back the way I had come. I came up eventually and walked in, around and over this outcropping and across a narrow stone path in a small lake. I saw a film crew filming a group of girls that were getting directions to chat together and then walk down one of the covered walks.
I must have made a large circle because I came out a side door right by the gate that I had come in. I decided to leave instead of attempting to find my way and see the whole garden. I realised that the small door I had seen before was going into the garden complex.  When you stand in front of the Bank of China looking at JinShaJing (金沙井) as if to go back to the metro. On the corner is a Coco which sells bubble tea, there were also other food places in that strip and what looked like a large hotel that advertised foot messages and pedicures.

At the opposite end of the strip from Coco was a place that advertised waffle fries and various fried chicken product. So I got an order of waffle fries and this spicy thin fried chicken thing that the lady cut up into irregular bite sized pieces. There were no condiments that I could see so I was glad that I got it spicy. I went down and got bubble tea from Coco and ate at a table by the chicken place.

Afterwards I went to get a foot message. I had found that the reason my feet had hurt so much the previous day was due to blisters between my toes. And it was only the third day of my vacation I needed my feet for more adventures!

They did a good job, it was very professional, it was also a bit expensive and they didn’t have very good English. I spent just less than 200 RMB for a 45 minute or hour long foot message plus a cup of tea (which cost extra). I got the more popular package which came with a shoulder/back message or a thigh message while your feet soaked—just like the one in Shenzhen. But unlike in Shenzhen the feet soak/back message was shorter and if I called it a ‘back message’ the lady would say ‘no’ and that it was hitting the shoulders. The room had big comfy chairs (two so you can talk to a friend during a message) and a TV that I got the remote for but just left it on the infomercial station that it was on when I got there and listened to my audio book instead. My message therapist, didn’t speak any English but was nice and good at her job, and when my tea was running low she hit the pager for me to get more hot water added, when she realised that I didn’t know that more water was free (the tea leaves were in the cup and that is what I paid for). The infomercial tried to sell me a microwave (that had buttons in English) that cooked food (complicated things I wouldn’t use a microwave for), defrosted food, and sanitise dishes (because Chinese people don’t wash dishes properly even if you ignore the fact that the water is bad to begin with and put all the dishes in a sanitizer that pretty much cooks the dishes). It also showed the proper uses for different knives (Chinese people are fond of using a cleaver for everything).

The message was worth it my feet felt better and the blisters were gone or at least didn’t hurt. I was still thirsty so I got another bubble tea and took the metro back to ZhongHuaMen (中华门) station, and headed to the actual ZhongHuaMen (中华门 ZhongHua Gate also called the Central Gate of China). The directions for that said from the metro station cross the road, and go right and then take a left onto Yuhua Rd (雨花路) and walk until you get to the gate.

When I got to the gate I walked through on the right side and once you are through the wall it looks like you can get up on the wall directly to the right. You cannot get to the top from there. But I walked along the wall and came across an Ancient Village. It was either a new village fashioned to look old or old buildings that were re purposed or a combination of those. I didn’t spend too much time there since there was a lot of Spring Festival construction going on.  So I walked back the way I came, and found what looked like a parking lot to the left of the road that I came in on and there I found the ticket booth.

The wall is thick but not completely solid all the way through at the gate. Instead it is a series of gates with nitches that are big enough to hide a troop of soldiers on either side of each gate to ambush attackers. It talked about how well it did against the Japanese, although I could have sworn that the Nanjing Massacre Museum said the gate was at least partially destroyed, but the gate didn’t mention any rebuilding. Some of these areas were set up with the costumed photo stands and there was also a mini archery range. Going up to the first part of the wall, you could walk around on top of the gates and look down into the spaces of the nitches. The bulk of the wall was up higher and under the top of the wall was these long corridors that were showing the history surrounding the gate or the building materials—showing the different bricks used and their maker’s seals.

I climbed to the top of the wall and right at the top was a gift stand, I glanced to see what they were selling quickly, and the sales woman became very enthusiastic. I decided to walk along the wall heading right as there was a display of old weapons and cannons. Then I kept walking, since I saw a sign that said that told me where the gates and passes were and the ones to the right were closer than the ones going left. And that was only shorter by about 1000 metres. In the end I never found any signs announcing that I made it to any of the passes that were on the sign. I did come across a set of steps that went down into what looked like a library before I turned around and went back. I walked back along the wall and then back to the hostel bust stopped to walk around the complex a bit and take a few pictures. I had wanted the day to be an early one as I needed to get up early and get on the metro to get to the train station and go to Hangzhou the next day. But had spent more time on the wall than I had expected.
Han Blue Dragon, World, China

Spring Festival 2015 – Day 3

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Spring Festival 2015 – Day 3
Nanjing, Jiangsu 03.02.2015
A City of Graves
Pretty dour of a name for the day, but it is fitting; I went to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall today to commemorate the 300000 victims, I gazed upon the mass grave of 10000 victims and saw their grisly skeletal remains. I went to the House of John Rabe a light in the storm and then I returned to Purple Mountain and passed the gate into the mausoleum of Sun Yat-Sen and went to Linggu Scenic Area named for the Linggu Temple but what none of the tourists sites tell you is it is just another cemetery. And just like all the others it is just as important.
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Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall is right near the YunJinLu (云锦路) Exit 2. Once you get out of the station there is a sign and you just need to cross the little road and walk along the main road. The museum opens at 08:30 and according to tourist information online there can be long lines and you should plan accordingly.

I left my hotel at 08:10 and got there at 09:00. The morning threatened rain the sort of drizzle where you didn’t need an umbrella but you should probably have one on you. When I went to the Dachau Concentration Camp on a class trip that was exactly how the day looked and when we left the camp and went into the town for dinner the sky had become a clear blue and the sun was bright and orange as it set. And my classmates, some of which had visited Dachau previously had said it had been overcast and rainy on those visits before and we had decided that the site was just always morose. The day, the weather and the path leading into the complex reminded me of that, as it should be, gloomy weather for a horrifying event.

There was a lot of bronze statue and a mural work they were all done in a rough clay-esque looking fashion which made them appear all the more horrible as you gazed upon them. There is a series of them as you walk along the wall of the complex heading towards the main gate. I didn’t take any pictures of these, but most of them were of people fleeing one was entitled: 13-year-old fleeing while carrying dead grandmother and there was a statue to go with it. A lot of them referred to the Japanese as ‘Devils’ and after going there and seeing that you would probably have to agree, but before I got inside and saw the museum it made me worried.

China hates Japan with a vitriol that is almost shocking. When faced with things like the Rape of Nanjing it is almost understandable but this hate goes beyond that. The first year I was in China there had been a fight over who owned these stupid little islands between Japan and China. The story for the international community was oil. The truth was whoever owned the islands would have their waters that much closer to the other country and neither China nor Japan wanted that. There were ‘demonstrations’ in China over this, some poor Chinese person driving a Japanese brand car stopped at a red light got their windows smashed in (in my city). A popular troupe in Chinese films is shooting Japanese people in the head and the Chinese viewers cheer when it happens.

Every time a student is going to leave China and needs to have an interview to go to school outside of China I tell them they cannot say that they hate Japan. To be honest, a lot of countries hate: America; America makes fun of Canada; England and France; Scotland and England, Australia and New Zealand and there is probably hundreds more of these types of rivalries and hatred between countries in the world but in a professional interview if you are asked: What is something you dislike? You would not name a country, a lot of my Chinese students would say Japan if asked that question and in follow up most of them cannot give an actual reason for this beyond vague WWII. One student told me it was because Japan occupied China for 200 years. Not really true (and they forget that China occupied Japan first, but that was 1000s of years ago not 67). The best answer I have heard was the current leader of Japan showed reverence to the WWII Japanese War Criminals who were in jail, which yeah not the best thing to do in front of a bunch of Chinese people especially when you know how they feel.

So I had a brief flash of panic that this museum was going to let the sadness and horror of the events be overshadowed by non-factual vitriol and slurs. I instead found some of the best English translations at a museum in China, thorough and well put together information on the events leading up to, during and after the Nanjing Massacre. And tucked away in some of the comments I found that the reason for this is that one of the Japanese Committees charged with finding the truth about the Nanjing Massacre, funded and put together a good portion of the museum. In my mind nothing says ‘I’m Sorry’ like building the most thorough and collective archive of your guilt for the world to visit and see so everyone forever after knows your crimes. But that could just be me, a lot of Chinese people I know don’t see it like that (and if I remember right, Japanese people aren’t taught this in history class, which while international claiming fault means nationally it never happened).

Everything is made of dark stones the buildings are angular and uneven, even if the sky had been sunny the darkness and the angles made me think of a jagged pain. There was three buildings/areas on the signs: the 10000 body mass grave, the Relics hall and an exhibition hall. Although one building that I thought was the exhibition hall was a sculpture instead and I never found the exhibition hall. I started with the mass grave, though the suggested route is through the Relics hall first and then out through the mass grave which ends with a door to the parking lot. I walked up and around to a square that had memorial rocks for certain battles and then I walked into the first building that had the top layer of the graves exposed, I contented myself that all the skulls I could see belonged to adults.

The next building was bigger and the graves were more separate instead of just a pile of bones. Certain bodies were highlighted and along the sides were placards that describe how the individual died. The ones that stood out in memory were the child that had three nails in him (A popular way of torture/killing was driving nails into a person), another person whose head was laying on their stomach (dismemberment another popular death) and an old woman who was choked to death and her jaw horribly dislocated. I didn’t take close up shots of any bodies and those were the last pictures I took of the horrors in any sort of detail.
After the graves there were a few memorial halls with clever artistic rendering to bring forth and stick in one’s mind the 300000 victims. At the end there was a pool and a statue for peace. I had to turn around (with three other visitors) and walk back through to get to the relics hall.

The Relics hall is a compilation of information from documents and the survivors from all sides. There was more information on this event then I had thought possible. There were a lot of photographs mostly grainy and black and white and they were brutally honest and made me sick to my stomach. One such photo depicted the severe head of a man placed on a road block the caption stated that the Japanese soldiers for amusement placed a chopped up man on the road block and placed half a cigarette in the corpse’s mouth. And that would be why I didn’t take pictures of the pictures; that image is seared into my brain. Strangely enough the least horrifying image that still shows the horror of the massacre is an oil painting Nanjing Massacre- Slaughter. Life. Buddhism by Chinese-American Li Zijian. A painting that depicts a pile of bodies and body parts being watched by Japanese soldiers as a Monk pulls away (or adds) a man. There was also a lot of models of battles or ruins, there was also models of life and death in homes in Nanjing and a display on the ‘Comfort Woman’ because the soldiers didn’t just rape the women in the street they also forced some to work as ‘Comfort Woman’ for the Japanese Soldiers.

It talked about the foreigners in Nanjing that tried to help the Chinese people and stop the Japanese. There was the Nanjing Safety Zone International Committee (This tells you the country of origin of each person but only in Chinese so I included that in this list), which was headed by John Rabe (German), and also included Lewis S. C. Smythe (American), George Fitch (American), John Magee (American), P. H. Munro-Faure (British), J. M. Hanson (Danish), P. R. Shields (British), G. Schultze-Pantin (German), Ivor Mackay (British), J. V. Pickering (American), Eduard Sperling (German), M. S. Bates (American), W. P. Mills (American), J. Lean (British), C. S. Trimmer (American), Charles Riggs (American), and Christian Kroeger (German).  There was also the International Committee of the Nanjing Red Cross which included: John Magee, Li Chuin-nan, W. Lowe, Ernest H. Forster, Christian Kroeger, Paul de Witt Twinem, Minnie Vautrin, P. H. Munro-Faure, James Mccallum, John Rabe, W. P. Mills, Shen Yu-shu, Robert O. Wilson, C. S. Trimmer, M. S. Bates, Lewis S. C. Smythe, and Nicolai Podshivoloff.    

I had read John Rabe’s book The Good German/Man from Nanking (Der gute Deutsche von Nanking) for a Chinese History class in college. I could only get an English translation at the time but it was good. So I knew that he had built a bunker in his yard and due to the fact that he wasn’t Chinese that somehow made his house ‘not China’ so his house, bunker and yard were eventually filled with refugees. He had to join the Nazi party to get the funding to open a German School in Nanjing for the children of all the German Workers in the city. So he wrote a letter to Hitler with photos telling him about the atrocities that the Japanese were committing in Nanjing and asking Hitler to help put a stop to it. He was arrested for treason when he returned home but his boss helped get his release.

So a bit later in the museum I was surprised to see a certificate and medal that were presented to a Karl Günther by the German Red Cross for running the refugee camp at Jiangnan Cement Factory. The surprising thing is the certificate states that it was being given with Hitler’s blessing. I’m happy that he got the recognition but at the same time I find it interesting how the same thing got John Rabe arrested (though I do not know if Karl Günther sent photos back to the Nazi Party or not).

It also showed the Japanese army in other cities in China. When you go to some of those cities people will tell you that everyone forgets that the Japanese were there too not just in Nanjing. But obviously Nanjing hadn’t forgotten. The most interesting picture was Qingdao. All the other pictures showed desolation. Qingdao was just the Japanese soldiers marching down the street. This might be because (and I double checked dates, I originally thought it was still German) Qingdao belonged to Germany until it was taken by Japan in 1914 and returned to China in 1922, but Japan kept economic dominance over the area, so Qingdao and Japan were already used to each other by WWII.

After all of that it talked about trying those involved as war criminals and restoring China. Right before you leave the building, in a nitch was this display with the photographs of those who died in the massacre and for 12 seconds the photo was lit up and then when a drop of water fell the photo would blink out to symbolise how fast people were dying in the massacre.
The gift shop had Chinese translations of all the books written by the people talked about in the museum. It had the Good German from Nanking and the Rape of Nanking and many more. My next stop was John Rabe’s house so I was hoping that they had a German copy of his book that I could get there.

When you leave the building if you turn right you can get out of Exit 2 which will get you to that little road that the metro station was on. Just turn right out of the exit and the station is on the left side of the road. So if you want to get back to the metro when you are done, it might be worth it to see the mass grave first, even if you have to back track. I left there at 10:45 and it was beginning to fill up with tourist; so I think weekday mornings are the best time to go, except Monday, it is closed on Mondays.

I took the metro to line 1 ZhuJiangLu (珠江路) station. I’m pretty sure I left out of door 2 (on the sign in the station you want the exit for XiaoFenQiao) I got out right on Guangzhou lu(广州路) and if you turn to the right you will see a large sign for XiaoFenQiao(小粉桥). John Rabe’s house is number 1 (the internet says it is 1 XiaoFenQiao, but the sign at the house said the street address is 1 Guangzhou lu) so it is right there on the corner.

It says on the door that a ticket was 10 RMB, but I couldn’t find anyone to buy a ticket from. So I entered the house, still couldn’t find anyone so I moved through the first floor that no longer looked like a home but was just walls of information about his life. I moved through pretty quickly because it was all things from his book. I did get a picture of a copy of the letter he had sent to Hitler, the Court announcement for Rabe’s de-Natzification, and I learned that he established the first telegraph station in Beijing and built another one later in Shanghai.

I walked around outside the fenced in area was small and this was the only thing that looked like it could have been part of his shelter, I also got a picture of the small building next to his house that was an office which may have also been the building for the German School. I found the ticket office right by the gate and tried to give the lady 10 RMB but she refused but had me write my name in a visitor’s book.

I went back to the metro station and right by the entrance was an Express Sushi. The way it worked you sat down and selected what you wanted off of a conveyer belt. Everything was in 6 RMB portions and when you’re finished they counted up your empty plates and you pay. They had this great one that was topped with lemon sauce and caramelised sugar, this other fish I didn’t know, I had a jumbo shrimp and some octopus as well. For dessert I had this rich and thick creamed cannoli-thing. Everything was very good. Since it wasn’t even noon I headed back to the Purple Mountain.

I paid the 10 RMB at the station and went up to the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum. By 12:30 I was at the gate, and it was open. I got a better picture of the stela and then I walked up the long staircase to the mausoleum itself. Along the staircase there were a pair of bronze tripods gifted from the Shanghai Special Municipal Government of the Republic of China. There are two holes in one tripod left over from the Japanese bombardment in December 1937. There were also stone lions that actually looked like lions instead of the typical dog-like lions that in English are called Fu Dogs; like this one from in front of the gate that was locked the previous day. At the top, you could go inside and walk around the statue (which I believe is on top of his casket) but you couldn’t take pictures inside, though there was a spot outside that seemed to be set up so you could take pictures inside.

I walked around a bit to make sure I hadn’t missed anything and then I headed back down. I got a 10 RMB ride over to Linggu Scenic area. I had no problem using the ticket from the previous day to get in. I walked down the long pathway to the first gate, which was partially covered by trees. The sign at the base of the steps said that the characters on the gate mean “Benevolence and righteousness” and “Salvaging the nation and the people” which were written by Zhang Jingjiang one of the senior members of the Kuomintang. According to the English translation on either side before the gate are “a pair of stone Pixiu (a kind of fabulous wild beast recorded in ancient books)” I know the pixiu it is the ninth offspring of the Dragon (it is a baby dragon) here is the picture of one from wikipedia So I was a bit surprised when I saw them as they didn’t look like Pixiu but like a large cat instead. I sent a picture to Dean and asked him what he thought they were (without mentioning Pixiu) he thought they were Lionesses. When I was looking at the picture of the sign later I realised the characters for Pixiu () were not included in the Chinese description so I asked Dean and he said that it said they were stone tigers (ShiHu 石虎). The Pixiu Wikipedia page includes a picture of the tigers stating they are Pixiu I’m going to see if I can get that fixed.

After the gate was a large Stone tortoise to the side that one would typically see with a stela on its back, there is a flat bit for a stela but no stela and the description says that scholars don’t know what it was made for. My guess is to carry a stela.
There was a beamless hall which was a vaulted brick building that used to be a sacrifice hall but now was filled with wax figurines in historical scenes.

I went to the Linggu Temple where inside of most of the buildings there were places to pray, but those seemed to be crowded by the stuff they were selling. The temple was big on animals and outline this whole program they had with the cats that walk around the scenic area. There were three words in English: Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) and then one of the pictures by the TNR showed a cat with one ear cut down, so I think that is how they know which cats have already been captured.

I walked down to pass the stela to the first gate of the Tomb of Tan Yankai who was a chairman of the Nationalist Government who died in 1930. According to the map by the gate the tomb was way up in the mountains beyond the pagoda and everything else but there was a closer tomb of Deng Yanda a leftist leader of the Koumintang which was closer, so I went there first.
Deng Yanda founded the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party (CPWDP) and was killed secretly outside of Qilin Gate in Nanjing in 1931 and was buried there in a hasty grave. The CPWDP was able to move his remains to the tomb or the original site of the second cemetery for the National Revolutionary Army Memorial Cemetery in the winter of 1957. The tomb was round with a dome ceiling which seems to be the contemporary tomb style (I saw a tomb from the 2000s in Guilin that was the same shape but it was just plain and painted red).

The walk way going to the Tomb of Tan Yankai was this crap brick stone stuff that hurt my feet and by that point my feet were killing me so I decided to skip the tomb way up in the mountain and went to the cemetery of the Fifth and Nineteenth Army battalions that died in the Anti-Japanese War. I could only see one monument I don’t know if I was walking on their graves or if the graves were beyond the wall, behind the monument.

On my way out I noticed a sign that I missed in front of the gate to go into the Linggu Scenic area, which said the area was a cemetery. Mainly for those who fought and died in the Northern Expedition or the Anti-Japanese Battle in Shanghai. Reflecting on it later it makes sense that it is a cemetery Linggu (灵谷 named for the Linggu Temple灵谷寺) means Spirit Gorge/Valley.

There was a bus stop for the 202 bus in front of the gate but the list of stops didn’t have the XiaMaFang stop listed so I didn’t get on the first bus. I asked a worker where the bus to the metro was and he said the 202. I still couldn’t find the metro in the list of stops (I just scanned for the characters of XiaMaFang) but when the next bus got there at about 14:30 he said that it did go to the metro.

Where I sat down was right across from the map of the stops and right where my eye was, was the stop梅花村 (MeiHuaCun) which is the stop right in front of the gate to the hostel complex and the other stops around that one were ones I recognised. So since I only paid 2 RMB I stayed on the bus. I wanted to get off at the station for the subway so I could by dinner there was one stop that had the ZhongHuaMen in it but that ended up being the actual gate and then the YuHuaLu stop was on YuHua Rd and not at the corner of YingTian Rd so I got off at MeiHuaCun at about 16:00 and decided I didn’t want to walk more and I would just eat the food I had in my room. But it is good to know if you had the time you could take a bus to Linggu Scenic Area instead of walking from or catching the 10 RMB bus from the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum. 
Han Blue Dragon, World, China

Spring Festival 2015 – Day 2

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Spring Festival 2015 – Day 2
Nanjing, Jiangsu 02.02.2015
Purple Mountain
I walked down to the metro station ZhongHuaMen (中华门) on line 1. On the way I crossed the main road YingTian Rd. (should be called Ave 应天大街) at about Yuhua Rd (雨花路) and ate brunch in a noodle shop. I got the egg noodles. It came with one hard boiled tea egg and al dente noodles in some sort of vinegary beef broth with onion greens. Noodles were good, the tea eggs in Dongying are better, and the broth left a funky after taste in my mouth so I bought gum by the metro.
 I walked into Door 2B (which was important to remember because Door 2A went around the back) and I took the metro to XiaMaFang (下马坊) station for 3 RMB. You can only by tickets from machines but you can go to the help desk to break change as the machines take 5 and 10 RMB bills a 1 RMB coins. But the people that work there, seem to think everyone is stupid and they lady wouldn’t stop pointing to the machine until I handed over the 1 RMB bills to exchange for coins. Nanjing isn’t too far from Beijing (though closer to Shanghai) and the machines never work to buy tickets in Beijing so that is probably where the stupidity is coming from.
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According to the directions I got: from the metro station you can take a bus to the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum the first bus I found was 10 RMB and it was full when we left. We stopped not too far from the station and the driver collected our money then went to get change and the bus tickets from a kiosk. It was a bit scary as we were going 30 Km/h and the sides were zipped up plastic.
The Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum is free, but you can buy tickets for everything else in the area. A thing you should note is pretty much everything is closed in Nanjing on a Monday. So I got as far as the second gate before I couldn’t go any further. So I went back down and figured I would buy a ticket and catch the bus to the Ming Tombs.

A 100 RMB ticket included the Ming Tombs (usually 70 RMB), The Open-air Music Hall (usually 10 RMB), The Linggu Scenic Area (usually 35 RMB), and the Meiling Palace (This was not listed when I bought the ticket but is on the ticket and on the buses they advertise something that was 145 RMB but you can get it for 100 RMB so I’m going to assume this is 30 RMB).
By the ticket window there was a huge map of the mountain so I looked that over first because I only really wanted to see: the tomb of Sun Quan (孙权墓 From the Three Kingdoms period), the Ming Tomb, and the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum. I really couldn’t find Sun Quan on the map, but it appeared that I could walk to the Sun Yat-Sen Sutra Relic Hall (read like a library) and the Sun Yat-Sen Academy and then be a short distance from the Linggu Scenic Area. I bought a drink for 8 RMB (it is usually 4 RMB)! And decided that walking to the Linggu Scenic Area would make up for the cost of the drink, and bought the 100 RMB ticket.

I went down to Open-air Music Hall and walked around it is a nice area covered in white pigeons or doves I really cannot tell the difference. I watched this little girl feeding the birds for a bit, they kept landing on her and she would ignore the ones on her in favour of feeding the birds on the ground and her mom wanted her to pay attention to the birds on her to make a better photo. I walked behind the Hall and found the coops, it was a nice area.

I went up and walked in the direction of the Library and the Academy, taking the path through the woods to the right of that closed off second gate. I figured the library would have less English and went there first only to find the path to the Linggu Scenic Area was behind the Library. The Library ended up being a museum dedicated to Sun Yat-Sen and there was probably a library in one of the closed off areas. I took pictures of the furniture that he own and of his three guiding principles (most everything inside was a replica), it was interesting to see that his wife carried a gun and that the museum really talked about his work with the Republic of China (now exiled to Taiwan), that the more recent leaders of Taiwan have visited the site (apparently without harm coming to them), and Nanjing is officially the capital of the Republic of China (and thus Taiwan).

Regardless of the fact that that the main pictures for the Academy depict foreigners, everything is in Chinese. Which I found really strange as Sun Yat-Sen studied in Honolulu and spent a good amount of time in Japan; but there was nothing in English or Japanese in the Academy. I did recognise John Rabe (partially because they had a picture of his book).

I walked back to the Library and then followed the sign for the Linggu Scenic Area. This started about an hour long walk through the woods that made my feet ache that lead me to the parking lot above the Open-air Music Hall (so I came almost full circle, I was at the base of the Mausoleum and not up into it), when I gave up on following signs and walking to the Linggu Scenic Area.
I got the bus to the Ming Tombs. While the bus from the metro was pay after you get on you need to pay for the bus at the kiosk across from the bus stop (10 RMB) first before you can go. Pay for the shuttles and buses!! The mountain complex is huge! And the signs aren’t always the best at directions.

I started with the Sacred Way Path, as I have seen Ming Tombs before but usually you drive by or through the Sacred Way Path and you don’t get to stop and look at the statues. But this one was a walking path. And where I got into the Tomb complex I walked the path backwards first before going to the tomb.

Most of the buildings at the tomb site had been destroyed and rebuilt. You could see where the old pillars had been and most of the new buildings were just gift shops. This was the tomb of the first Ming Emperor. New/different things of note were before the giant rectangular citadel at other (later) tombs there was a sacrifice/offering table where the attendants would leave food, etc. that wasn’t there. Typically, the actual tomb would be under the citadel, though sometimes the door into the tomb would be behind the citadel. At this tomb behind the citadel was a huge burial mound that housed the Emperor and Empress. I did not find a door into the tomb. But I climbed to the top of the mound down the opposite side and walked around (half) the base of the mound inside the brick wall that enclosed the mound until I got back to the citadel.

I then followed signs for the Sun Quan Memorial. I walked through a garden of trees which may have been or was an extension of the Plum Blossom Hill. Some of the trees had blossoms already which was cool and off to the side I saw this crazy wasp/bee/hornet/bird (Maybe?) nest high in a tree. With a bit of poking around I found the Sun Quan (182-252 CE) Memorial and went into the little museum.

Most of it was in Chinese the titles of most things and a few of the placards had been translated into English. He was the first Emperor/Famous Person to be buried on Zhongshan (中山(middle mountain, Purple Mountain’s official name) but it didn’t say in English where he was buried.

I went back to the front of the gate to catch the bus. It was about 16:00 and I knew that most things closed around 17:30-18:00 but the temperature was dropping and it was getting dark. So I asked the lady at the gate if I could use my unused portion of my ticket the next day and she said yes and then I found the bus stop that would take me to the metro station. But I walked around to the ticket booth to get a ticket and I was told to buy the ticket on the bus and that I needed the Number 2 bus. It cost 2 RMB but it was a bigger city bus looking thing. We were dropped off by the kiosk behind the metro station.

I took the metro to SanShanJie (三山街 (2RMB)) which is one stop before my station I left exit 4 (noticed an underground mall) and to the left was JinShaJing (金沙井) and then right across from JinShaJing on ZhongHuaLu (中华路) was a Bank of China ATM which only charged me 5RMB for being in a different Province/City. Across from the Bank of China on the corner of JinShaJing and ZhongHuaLu was a Coco where I got Hot Bubble Milk Tea. As I walked back to the metro station I popped into the small grocery stores to get breakfast food, it took three stores until I found something I liked/could stand to eat for multiple days.

The underground mall had a few floors the lower one was mostly clothes shops and nail parlours the upper area was food. It was pretty much just Chinese food no Indian food like in Shenzhen, and it didn’t look clean. I found another Coco and ended up eating some fried meats for dinner.

For another 2RMB I took the metro back to my stop. So apparently 2 RMB is the base rate and it increases slowly because 7 stops was still 2RMB. Also I take back my protest to the really cold floor, as it feels great on sore feet but then after a bit your feet are still super cold.
Han Blue Dragon, World, China

Spring Festival 2015 – Day 1

Spring Festival 2015 – Day 1
Nanjing, Jiangsu 01.02.2015
I got a flight to Nanjing from Qingdao and got the bus to the airport from the hotel on Bei'Er lu. There was only about a half a dozen of us and they put us in one of the tiny 15 seater vans, but the other people on the bus had a lot of luggage (I had a backpack). So it was either due to luggage or the van didn't start but they moved us to a huge long distance bus and we were on our way. I had an early afternoon flight and left plenty of time to get to the airport. I was worried about Feniq though.
Collapse )A couple weeks prior I had gone on a day trip to Weifeng to visit a foreigner who used to work in Dongying and my boss for the weekend kids took Feniq for the day and then returned her in the evening. A few days later I asked if he could watch Feniq again and he said that Feniq had bit his daughter and they had gone to get his daughter a rabies shot and now she was afraid of Feniq (which would be understandable). I had been shocked as back home if that had happened 1) I would have to put Feniq down, and 2) I would have been informed immediately. In the end my boss offered to come by my apartment every day to walk Feniq and make sure she had food and water. So I had left Feniq in my apartment alone and a spare key with my boss.

I got to the airport with no problems, grabbed my ticket, and went through security which fouled me up a bit. when I had gone home for the last summer my LCD screen on my laptop had been broken somewhere between Beijing and Dullas airports and I ended up replacing my whole laptop and my mom got me a Pelican hardcase but it had no place for the powercord, etc. so my mom got me an L.L. Bean backpack that would fit the case and still had about three inches of space in the main compartment plus three other compartments. I was particularly happy that I had split my clothes for the trip between three plastic bags, because when I went to take my laptop case out of my backpack it wouldn't come out of the backpack! So I had to take out all of the plastic bags of clothes to get my laptop case out and luckily it was a TSA friendly case so I didn't need to take the laptop out of the case itself.

My flight was delayed, but I feel that the story of flights in China or at least when it comes to me. I got to Nanjing a bit after six in the evening. I was staying at the Traveller's Soul Inn and the address that was given was 1865 Creativity Industrial Park. From the airport I needed to take the airport bus to the ZhongHua Gate station. I was a bit worried about not having any Chinese address at all but when I went to get an airport bus ticket I saw the Zhong Hua Gate (中华门) stop written in Chinese characters that I knew. I should have realised that there was no pinyin on the bus sign but I hadn't. The bus ride was about 30 minutes and we had stopped briefly at the train station. I was let off on this huge road that had a bunch of overpasses looming above.

I was right at a local bus station stop and in the directions that I had said that you could take the 126 or 110 bus to the Yanghuaxiang stop. I looked at the list of buses and found the buses I needed but there was no pinyin! I asked someone waiting nearby which was the Yanghuaxiang stop and they said there wasn't one. The other part of my directions said to head east along Yingtian Rd until the 1865 Creativity Industrial Park. But no one knew where Yingtian lu (the typical translation for Rd) but no one know what I was talking about a few people thought it might be further into town and a young couple offered to take me into town. I could see a metro station diagonally across the street and figured there would be a street map there so figured I should look at that first. I crossed the street and walked down to the metro station and then I noticed a sign that said I was on Yingtian Rd, across the street (on the side I had started on) I crossed the street and read it so I knew which way was east (back the way I had come); so if I had known all of that when I had gotten off the bus I should have turned right down the road and started walking.  So I walked back to the bus stop I had started at and told the curious people I just needed to walk down in that direction. I was paying attention to the building numbers but it seemed that I had a ways to go until I got to 1865. It was pushing 19:30 and I was tired and a bit lost and couldn't get any maps to work without the Chinese name or a vpn; so I called Dean. I asked him if he could look up the Chinese address for 1865 Creativity Industry Park, I also stupidly forgot to write the name of the hostel down and only remembered the 'Inn' part and I didn't feel comfortable unpacking my whole bag on the street to get to my laptop to look it up.

I hung up from Dean so he could do a search and as I was walking along the road I saw a sign on a fence that said 1865 Creativity Industrial Park, as I kept walking each little section of fence had the same sign. So I back tracked and found a gate with a traffic arm at the end of the 1865 fence, bit the number on the gate was 500-something and not 1865. I went into the area right when Dean had called back to tell me he couldn't find it, and I replied that I think I had found it. 1865 Creativity Industrial Park is an old factory complex that has been repurposed for mainly art purposes. I started walking around looking for my hostel and reading signs and headed for anything that sounded like where I could be staying. I found a few rather loud restaurants and perhaps a different hotel. I had looked up the word for inn and was asking people after it, but wasn't getting much help. I called Dean back and stopped a couple of joggers and Dean talked to them and I followed the joggers who brought me back to the path that followed along Yingtian Rd. There I saw a large main gate looking area that was closed. We went straight past the main gate and then turned left into a little nitch between buildings with a red sign at the front and walked up some stairs into a winding path through the trees that when the trees broke there was an International Youth Hostel Sign and the words Traveller's Soul Inn, which at that point I recognised. The Joggers brought me in and made sure it was the right place before leaving.

I went to check in, and of course had to have my confirmation number which meant unpacking my bag (typically in China everything is done with ID numbers). The rooms were outside a different door and then upstairs. My room had this cold grey stone tile stuff that is what the hallways of a few of classroom buildings at my school are made from-- it was freezing cold! However in the bathroom they had given me about six towels which I used on the floor, soap, shampoo, and a body wash netted sponge thing which was nice of them and the water was good and hot!

I relaxed and made plans for the next day. I hadn't thought too much about the wall but I was glad to know that I was so close to the central gate of the old city walls and that I could make that a quick trip if I had any time left over. It was also nice to be so close to the metro as everything that I wanted to do wasn't too far down the metro line (12 stops at most).
Vulcan Children

My NaNoWriMo Novel is entered in a Jukepop contest

The novel that I wrote for NaNoWriMo this November is entered into a contest at Jukepop where I could win $200 and have it put in a library. To win I need a lot of +votes. To read my novel you have to sign in to the site but you can do that by signing in with FB. The contest ends at the end of February I'll update at least a chapter a week and if you like it you can give a +vote for each chapter. This is also a first edit, so critique and suggestions are welcome!
I would really appreciate your support and opinions on my novel!
It is a SciFi/Fantasy so please pass it on to all your friends who you think will like it. Thanks! If anyone else is entered in this or a similar contest drop me a link and I’ll check it out!

Summary: Time and Space are infinite, and always changing. They are not linear or logical at the best of times, but it doesn't mean that they cannot be hurt. Christopher Michael Smith is a Business Management Major in College, he is an average guy with an average life. There is nothing spectacular about him nor is he boring and easily missed. He is from a statistically average family, in a statistically average town. He believes himself to be a practical and average person.
But when is average and common an anomaly? When that is all you are. An anomaly so singular, so strange, so common, that it is stabilising, that it can fix and balance the wounds in the fabric of space and time.
But do the wounds need healing? And if they do how much? Who is right and who is wrong? And what will it mean to the world as we know it?
Han Blue Dragon, World, China

Spring Festival – Getting Home

Y2 China Travel Dragon 100x100


I was lucky since my flight wasn’t too early in the day, so I was able to get a taxi to the CAAC Hotel to get a shuttle bus back to the airport. And the taxi ride ended up being about 17 RMB. When we got to the hotel there was the shuttle bus right out front. When I got out of the taxi another taxi driver tried to get me to go with him in a regular (4 seater) taxi to the airport for 20 RMB. I refused and got on the bus, there was no way that the trip to the airport would only be 20 RMB for one person for 1-4 passengers since the tolls alone cost more than that!

I got to the airport fine, the flight was good, and then I got a taxi to the bus station and made it in time for the 16:00 bus to Dongying. I got the last ticket and was squished in a corner seat in the far back. Luckily, I got in before 22:00 and the taxis near the station were not too bad, so I got home with no problems.

I did laundry and cleaned up a bit until about 02:00. When I got up the next morning I cleaned really well, while Feniq wasn’t home. I definitely still had a cold and the next day everything would be closed so I went and bought the good cold medicine, dog food, and I went to the grocery store, but that was extra crowded and I just bought water and got out of there.

For dinner I went to Pizza Hut and brought home seven slices of pizza for my meals for the next few days since all the restaurants and stores would be closed. I got Feniq back from a student that was watching him at around 16:00. And then we settled in for the mass of fireworks and relaxing!

Han Blue Dragon, World, China

Spring Festival – Guilin Day 4: Reed Flute Cave and Little Italian

Y2 China Travel Dragon 100x100


This one was a bit complicated, and confusing to get to and find. It was the only thing I wanted to see on the opposite side of the city from my hostel. I got the directions off of google maps. There were three buses that go that way 3, 203, and 25, according to Google. The number three bus had the least amount of walking so I took that one.

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Han Blue Dragon, World, China

Spring Festival – Guilin Day 3: Yao Village, Dragon Backbone Rice Terraces, and Amani’s Pizza

Y2 China Travel Dragon 100x100


So I signed up for a tour that would go to the Dragon Backbone Rice Terraces. I was a bit apprehensive about it, since the one in Beijing for the Great Wall didn’t turn out all for the best. But this Tour Group was good. There was the tour guide Vivi, a German guy that teaches at the Polytechnic University in Dalian, a Chinese guy who said he studies/d at the university that I work at, and three guys from Holland that were just travelling around. I chatted mostly with the Dutch guys on the trip there we talked about how when Chinese people find out I’m American, they ask if I own a gun. And the Dutch guys said that Chinese people don’t ask if they do drugs since they seem to not know the correlation with Amsterdam, but most other people ask about that.

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Han Blue Dragon, World, China

Spring Festival – Guilin Day 2: Seven Stars Peak, Elephant Trunk Hill and the Sun and Moon Pagodas

Y2 China Travel Dragon 100x100


There are a few bus stops near my hostel but when you look at the map the bus stop I would need to go to were always not in the best position for getting to where I wanted to go. For example the Seven Stars Peak was on the opposite side of the river and the bus to get there was on the same road just a block or so over on the wrong side of the river. And Elephant Trunk Hill was a further 3 km down from the Seven Stars Peak. But there wasn’t a bus between them so if I took the bus from one to the other I would be taking the bus back to the stop near my hostel and then switching buses!

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Han Blue Dragon, World, China

Spring Festival – Guilin Day 1: Solitary Beauty Peak, Wave-Subduing Hill, and Folded Brocade Hill

Y2 China Travel Dragon 100x100


Solitary Beauty Peak

I woke up the next morning and ate some of the chocolate hazelnut crackers and tried to take a shower. The water was still cold, so I figured I would tell them when I was leaving. I couldn’t get the WiFi to work, which in the end I seemed to be the only one that couldn’t get the WiFi to work in the building. It worked long enough for me to pull up Google maps to see how far away things really were when trying to get to them.

When I went down to the front desk I forgot about the water and asked them instead how to get to the Solitary Beauty Peak. The Peak was within the Prince’s Mansion complex and the ticket was for the whole complex and 130 RMB! The lady at the front desk asked if I was a student and I said that I was a teacher instead; so I couldn’t get a student discount. There was however a discount from the hostel that would have made the ticket 100 RMB, but I didn’t know about it and the lady forgot to tell me about it. She did point to the main gate of the Prince’s Mansion on the map that was about 50 metres down the road.

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