Saturday, February 10, 2007

Now in Nanjing

So on to Naning. The Birth place of the People's Republic of China after the People's liberation army ended the rule of the Republic of China in 1949 and also the setting for the Najing massacre where 0ver 300,000 Chinese were tortued were killed by the Japanese in 1937. I'd never really understood why the Chinese disliked the Japanese quite so much, I mean we get on with the German's alright nowadays, but after visiting Nanjing and reading about the history of the place and quite how terrible the Japanese were to the defence-less Chinese pepole and how the Japanese Government refuse to admit that they did anything wrong, I am started to understand a little more. BUT I still think it's shocking that people (including the young generations) can still hate a country for something that happened so long ago.

Travelling by bus turned out to be rather enjoyable. Id i'd known how good they were I would have stopped stressing about trains long ago and caught them instead. You have a massive seat with adjustable head rests and much more leg room than a train, you have air con over your head, there are no people standing up in the aisles or trying to take your seat everytime you stand up, and you can store all your luggage safely underneath the bus rather than precarioulsly over your own head.

The only down side of the bus was getting off. Getting off any method of transport in a new city is always frustrating as the usual flock of taxi vultures descend upon you, all trying to lure you into their tiny cars to rip you off; but Nanjing was particularly bad. As I stepped off the bus with my huge bags it just started raining- this being only the 4th or 5th instance of rain in my whole time in China. Therefore my need for a taxi was more urgent than if it was sunny. I went with one or two of the aformentioned "vultures" and just got annoyed with them as they lead me to their non-existent taxi's and then tried quoting me ridiculous prices (such as 100yuan) to take me on a journey that I knew could not be that far.

This is when the problems started. I tried showing a legitimate taxi driver the hostel address.But it was in Pinyin rather than signs and he reckoned he couldn't understand it so I tried phoning the hostel- number not recognised. I was in trouble. So I phoned the hostel in Suzhou and asked them to direct the taxi. I got in 3 and they all refused to take me; "wrong direction" "dinner time" "too busy" were their responses. At this point the rain was really coming down and I was getting majorly soaked and also majorly pissed off. After another 15 or so minutes I managed to get in another taxi, the 5th attempt, and this time I just told the driver to drive to get the metre up, when we had gone so far I rang the hostel and got them to direct her. It was too late by then for her to refuse and so finally I arrived-albeit it a little more stressed out than planned-at my hostel and the price of the taxi was only 18 yuan! Far better than the vultures reckoned!

The hostel was cool. Far more of a usual backpackers hostel than in Suzhou and it was set in the heart of the touristy Fuzimiao district. Due to the hostel being busy they could only offer me a 4 bed room-which I didn't mind as it had ensuite bathroom and for the first night I had the whole room to myself!

Whilst checking into the hostel I bumped into Chris-who I had met in Suzhou-and so we agreed to go out to dinner that night (when we refused to eat the ducks head we were served and then refused to pay a large percent of the bill) and then meet up to explore tomorrow. We went to the Heavenly Kingdom Museum, The Nanjing Massacre Memorial-which was shut, and also some Ming Tombs at Purple Hill. The Tombs were expensive and quite boring. I'd already been to some in Beijing at the Badaling Wall and unlike these in Beijing you could actually go down into the tombs-here you just had to stare at the mound from the outside. So I couldn't really see the point.

That evening I went out with Some friends of Nancy's from University. They took me out for a nice chinese meal and we agreed to meet up the next day so they could show me more of the sites of Nanjing. We visited Ji Ming Temple and also the Heavenly Kingdom Palace-which was huge and took a good 3 hours to look around and was home to a lot of interesting history on how the Republic of China was formed in Nanjingin 1947. They also managed to lend me another friends bike and took me on a quick tour of the citie's 3 university campuses-which are supposed to be among the best in China.

The rest of the time in Nanjing was spent exploring the huge city centre and deciding whether I would have preferred to have lived here or the shiz. In the end I think najing won-basically because of it's excellent metro and the warner cinema village. On the last night I bumped into a Chinese guy who had lived with an Englishman at University and been taught how to swear like a "true brit". So we enjoyed a good night out with plenty of drink and I marvelled at cockney swear words that I hadn't heard for a good 5 months. It all made getting up at 6am for the train the next morning quite difficult indeed!

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