I had taken the train from Shanghai to Suzhou so I took the bus to Nanjing for a change. It was a comfortable bus running on time on a good road. No problem, the gas station was almost like back home except for the brands!
At first the Nanjing University Foreign Students Hotel would not accept me because my visa was expiring on that day at midnight. It was Sunday and the PSB (Public Security Bureau read tourist police) was closed so it took some negotiation to get in but I finally got a bed in one of the dorms.
On the first night there, I had a quarrel with a very aggressive japanese student who kept the TV blaring until past midnight and screamed at me in Japanese when I complained. Maybe he was drunk, maybe he wanted the place all for himself, I didn't care but the next day I changed dorm and that solved the problem. This is the view from that first room.
The first thing I did on Monday was to visit the PSB where I got a 20 day extension without any difficulty even though my visa had expired the night before!
With that step behind me I called my internet friend George Dong who did not hesitate to take the afternoon off from work to show me around. Yesterday had been a bad day but today more than made up for it. He treated me like a long lost uncle and went out of his way to make me feel welcome. Here we stand in front of Nanjing's Drum Tower.
This structure near the Drum Tower looked like a temple but it turned out to be the fashionable Maxiangxing restaurant.
All ancient Chinese cities had a Drum Tower and a Bell tower. They were used to signal a variety of important information to the population, alerts, curfews, celebrations etc... This is Nanjing's Bell tower.
George and I visited the ancient Jiming temple on our way to the Ming Dynasty Ramparts shown here next to Xuanwu Lake in the north.
These fortifications completely encircled the ancient capital in the 14th century. The gigantic 33 km wall, 12 meter high and 7 meters wide at the top, was built in thirty years using large black bricks supplied by all parts of the Ming Empire. The wall has been restored in places but it is nevertheless surprising that about two thirds of it has survived Nanjing's violent history.
Xuanwu Lake confirms the truism that no self respecting Chinese city is without a lake with causeways, islands, gardens and pavilions for the people to visit and relax.
There wasn't enough perspective to take a picture of the Jiming Temple Pagoda from the crowded grounds but I got a good silhouette of it from the ramparts.
On Tuesday I explored Nanjing on foot. Street names can be tricky until you get used to the system. For example, Nanjing's main artery bears three names as it runs about 10 kilometers from the Ming Zhonghua Gate in the south almost to the Nanjing train station in the north. Its southern third is called Zhonghua Nanlu (nan=south, lu=road), the central part is called Zhongshan Lu and the northern end is Zhongyang Lu. There are also a Zhongshan Beilu (bei=north) and a Zhongshan Donglu (dong=east) that branch off from the central Zhongshan Lu. Now you should see that Nanjing means "southern capital" and that Beijing means "northern capital".
Note how the roadway is divided between three lanes for cars and busses and a wide protected band for bicycles.The sidewalk for pedestrians is on the other side of the trees.
Nanjing honours the memory of Sun Yat Sen, the father of modern China, with an grandiose mausoleum on the slopes of mount Jijinshan west of the city and also with this statue placed at the city center, Xinjiekou Circle, at the intersection of Zhongshan Lu and Zhongshan Donglu (shan=mountain).
I spent a couple of hours enjoying the interesting exhibits of Nanjing Museum at the end of Zhongshan Donglu. Photography was forbidden but I could not resist the temptation of of recording its unique Han Dynasty funerary suit entirely made of small jade plates. I took a photo of it but it turned out ruined by the reflexion from the flash off the glass showcase. Serves me right!
The Fuzimiao district in the southern part of the city has kept the look of a traditional Chinese city just like Shanghai's Yuyuan area. In this century it has become a lively place of amusement full of art galleries, antique and souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. During the 15 previous centuries, it had been a very serious center of Confucian studies centered on this ancient Confucius Temple and on the Imperial Examination Halls.
The great philosopher Confucius established the basis for China's Imperial Powers on a pyramidal hierarchical social structure derived from an intellectual logical construction rather than on the belief in some god given absolute truths on which all other great civilizations have based or justified their Royal Powers.
Old Fuzimaio has lost its scholars but has kept the style and charm of yesteryear. I hope will resist the encroachment of the modern high rise buildings seen in the left background.
I might feel it would be a pity to raze this quaint Fuzimaio street but I must recognize that its dwellers would most certainly prefer the convenience of a 20 storey high rise!
If I had to get out of my house and walk to the end of the quaint street shown in the last photo to get to this public toilet I think that I would most certainly prefer to move and enjoy the convenience of a 20 storey high rise! In the traditional way of life, human waste is periodically gathered and cyclo-carted to the countryside for it an excellent fertilizer...
This row of recently restored housing lining a canal near Zhonghua Gate will probably survive a little longer as prestige apartments for enterprising yuppies!
The Ming Dynasty Zhonghua Gate was the stronghold of the southern wall. Its wide moat (on the other side), its four consecutive gates and its garrison of 3000 soldiers made it almost impregnable. Today's traffic skirts it easily through a breach in the wall traversed by the road on the left.