Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pictures are up!

I finally put up the Silk Road Trip pictures. Sorry it took me so long. 
They are under the Silk Road Pictures page, which is at the top of my site, under the title. 
I will explain them all and caption them when I find time.
I hope you enjoy them!!

Weekend Trip to Nanjing

I woke up at five thirty Saturday morning and dragged myself out of bed. I had to rush to get ready, changed and finished packing. We're heading to Nanjing for the weekend.
Our school program provided us with a weekend trip and I chose Nanjing, one of the bigger cities here in Shanghai. It was the countries capital during periods of the Ming dynasty and on and off again throughout history when emperors moved the capital back and forth from Beijing. In the 1920's to the 1940's it was used as a capital for the nationalist party. Dr. Sun Yatsen, father of China, lived and ruled here as well as other important figures such as Chang Kai Check. 
We left the school at around 6:45 and caught the train to Nanjing. The seat were surprisingly extremely comfortable but just when I finally closed my eyes, the speaker announced we were there.
When we got there, our first stop was the Presidential Palace. 
This was once a grand presidential home as well as the capitals' offices. Chang Kai Check had his offices here and Sun Yatsen had his residence here. 
It was really neat to see these historical offices and what political homes where like back then. The gardens and the buildings were beautiful especially the traditional Chinese architecture.
Lunch was our next stop and of course we did family style at a local restaurant. It was delicious, but I have to say my favorite dish was the sweet and sour chicken. 
Dr. Sun Yatsen's tomb was next. It was surrounded by beautiful gardens and sat on top of 392 steps that led to the hall his tomb lay in. Climbing these steps is a symbol of respect towards him and his service as the father of China.
The gardens were wonderful and beautiful and the park was huge. We toured the Ming tombs after, where the emperor along with his concubines and some sons were all buried. It was neat because as we walked out of the park, stone animal statues guarded the entrance. These statues of elephants, lions, unicorns, horses, and a mythical creature are supposed to recognize whether someone was honest or not, and therefore decide to let them pass or not. 
We left the tombs for the Confucian Temple. Traffic was so thick it took us almost an hour instead of fifteen minutes. We had about an hour and a half of free time and time to find food. We walked the streets which were filled with street foods, and souvenir shops. We didn't find any food that we liked at first so we started with ice cream, always a safe bet. After a while we found a Chinese restaurant and I got noodles. What I got was a soup with noodles with chicken bones and intestines. I still shudder in disgust thinking about it. I think I got three bites in and couldn't do it. 
Our last item for the day was a boat cruise on the Yangzi River. We drove along the river for about an hour and it was so pretty. It was really neat seeing all the restaurants, buildings, and houses along the river. Plants lined the walls of the river and the whole place reminded me of France or Italy. It was really peaceful and beautiful. 
We finally left for the hotel. It was an interesting place, very artsy. Each room had a different mural, ours was something about aeronautics. We went and explored the hotel to find the third floor just containing clubs and the second floor only restaurants and massage parlors. 
I was dead tired though and soon fell asleep, it had been a very educational, interesting, and fun day.

I woke up really early the next morning, took a shower and got changed. You know, the nice thing about traveling is you pack a certain number of outfits, in this case one, and you don't spend hours trying to figure out what your going to wear, which is usually my problem.

Salma and I went to go get breakfast, an interesting array of foods. They had break and rice porridge, noodles and plastic looking sausages, eggs and veggies. They had it all, even an espresso machine. 
After breakfast and getting everyone together, we finally left for Qinxia mountain. I was worried, it looked like it was about to rain. I asked our tour guide and he was like nahhh, I made sure it wouldn't. As soon as we got to the mountain, we started hiking up. It was a beautiful path, right in the middle of the woods and every once in a while we'd come up on a building that either used to be a home or a temple. And who would have know, it started raining. At this point, Salma, Steven, and I were already halfway up the mountain so we decided to keep going. It was worth it, the hike was so beautiful and it just felt good to hike. We were soaked when we got back down to the base. It was funny, we were all waiting to get on the bus, but the bus driver took about fifteen minutes to park correctly, while we were all standing next to it in the soaking rain. 
Thankfully we went to lunch next and were able to dry off a little. Lunch, like always was family style and delicious. The nice thing was, they had western toilets, with toilet paper; we all felt so special since its a luxury here in China.
Our last thing was the Nanjing Massacre. I'm glad this was our last stop because it was so depressing and sad. During the Nanjing Massacre, when Japan invaded China, the Japanese killed around 300,000 people. The atrocities done to the Chinese people were astounding and so sad. 
We were walking through it and I felt so sick, innocent men, women, and children were killed in the worst ways. We walked through it fast, Salma and I both feeling sick from it. 
They were telling us how the Japanese cut this part of their history out of their textbooks. How Japanese students would come to China and be so surprised, never have heard of it before. 
We were all ready to head back, and we took the afternoon train back to Shanghai. We were all in Soft sleeper cabins that I believe they turn into seats during the day. We all sort of dozed off and before we knew it we were back in Shanghai.
It was a great weekend, packed to the brim with activities. We were all exhausted but this weekend had taught us a lot. I was glad that I was able to go to Nanjing and see so much of China's history. 

Elephants along the entrance

On our river cruise, Steven, me, and Salma

We even saw fireworks!

Our artistic hotel

Good luck and prosperity flags along the tomb

Cold and wet, but a great hike

On our way back home, we were so tired, we fell asleep on each other

There were so many people at the Presidential Palace

Dr. Sun Yatsen's tomb in the distance

Breakfast of champions, for me anyway, noodles, rice porridge, and espresso

Lighting candles for meditation and prayer

This week its back to the Shanghai routine, classes and work all week and then hopefully I can go see more of the city this weekend. 

I'll keep you posted on these last few days.

Happy Holidays and have a great Thanksgiving back home!!