Confucious and Boating: Nanjing continued

Trip Start May 05, 2012
Trip End Mar 01, 2013

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Sunday, August 5, 2012

The evening after we discovered the wall, we decided to head to the Confucian Temple area of Nanjing. The Confucian temple is where Confucius started his school and there is a big statue of him and his 10 disciples. The temple itself was really nice to see and very peaceful. However this is one of the biggest attractions in Nanjing for Chinese tourists. Outside of the temple it was quite a lot like the Yu Yuan Gardens in Shanghai. There were restaurants and shops EVERYWHERE! The surrounding two or three blocks of the temple are a labyrinth of small stalls selling anything and everything you could ever want (or not want in the case of a few things- check out the pics of scorpions…), and blocks of the large more westernised commercial chain shops.

After a good spot of shopping and haggling (my new favourite thing to do in China – Evan) we found a place for tea. We ended up at a Korean BBQ restaurant and had no idea what a Korean BBQ involved. We managed to order a couple dishes of the menu and it wasn't until we saw the people at the table next to us frying up chicken wings and oysters on the hot plate in the centre of their table that we clicked. We hurriedly ordered some beef portions that we could do on our hot plate to join in on the action. The staff at this restaurant gave us the best service we have had in all of China! When we ordered for the first and second time, we obviously looked completely lost. So when the marinated beef came out, one of the waitresses who had been hovering around our table (we had three fuwuyuan [foo-woo-you-ann] (waiter/waitress) hanging nearby and all three would race to the table the second we said anything, or even made eye contact!) decided that she would stay with us and cook it for us. She was so lovely that even when we got the meat, which tasted as tough as old boots, we couldn’t help but smile. The way that they cut their portions of meat here is totally different to back home. In NZ we like cuts very lean and tend to go with the grain. Here a good cut is, in some cases, 50% fat and the grain is totally ignored – hence tough as old boots regardless of how long it is cooked.

We spent the rest of the evening doing more shopping and haggling around the small shops. On our way out we went passed under a grand arch that, upon reflection, was probably the main entrance to the Confucian Temple area. While standing near it and consulting our map, a Chinese lady tried to sneak up beside us for a covert "photo with the foreigners". We noticed her just as they were about to take the photo and she got quite a shock. She was really embarrassed but her friends thought it was a great joke when we turned around, laughed and told her to get in beside us for a proper photo. We don’t mind the photos with the Chinese tourists too much – though not at the zoo – and it’s quite funny to think how many random people’s photo albums of Nanjing we will be in!

The next day was a Monday and we had planned on seeing Sun Yet Sen’s mausoleum on top of Purple Mountain but in China, Monday is the day off for people who work in the tourist industry. So deciding that we didn’t want a trek up a mountain in the blazing sun to see a mausoleum that wasn’t open, we decided to check out the Xuanwu Lake Park instead. This is a massive lake just outside the Nanjing City wall and it borders the Purple Mountain (we think). The day was beautiful and so we decided to do the tourist thing and hire a little electric self-drive boat to go out on the lake in. The boat was great fun if a little slow, but the lake and adjoining park area were very beautiful, check out the pics.  

Tuesday was our final day of holiday and we had decided to take the bullet train back to Tianjin. The train left at 11.20 and we made it into Tianjin about 3 o’clock. It’s pretty good going when you consider that we travelled about the length of NZ in just over 3hours. The train cruised at 306km/h most of the way (Yay! – Evan) and it was really cool to see a good portion of the Chinese countryside up close. We both now understand why tourists get so excited when they see the NZ countryside/bush.  The fields and village and even rolling hills that we passed on the train all had a thick blanket of fog/smog over then and were quite depressing to be honest (the weather was pretty rainy and dark though too).  It was interesting to see though, especially when a cluster of skyscrapers would just appear out of the rolling hills and villages. 

Returning to Tianjin was a bit difficult, although we were both looking forward to a good night’s sleep (I never thought I would call ChengJi a quiet place!).   The feel of Tianjin is completely different from Shanghai and Nanjing, and although it is a city of 12 million, compared to Shanghai it felt like a large village.  I think that if we were to come back to live in China again, we would go to city that felt more alive than Tianjin.  However, having sampled the heat in the South, I’m not sure we could last a whole summer! We were also happier to leave Nanjing than Shanghai because they were obviously not so used to foreigners.  We were told that Nanjing was a tourist city, and it was – but almost all were Chinese tourists.  We saw maybe three other Western foreigners the whole time we were there.  This meant a whole lot of staring and photos everywhere we went, and the feel of constantly being on display got old pretty quickly!  At least Tianjin is mostly used to white faces- we don’t feel like we are an exhibition in a zoo quite so much here. 

Now we are back to our second programme of summer school, but because most of our other classes are on holiday, we both have a very light schedule.  We are looking forward to having lots of free time this weekend – something we have never had before!
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Gramz on

Confucius say Very good blog, Excellent pictures.
Many thanks for the armchair travel, I love it. xoxo

Mike and Lou on

Great blog guys and what fab adventures! Hope you are enjoying more free time at the weekend xxx

pammynz on

Hey Guys it has been 3 weeks since last blog. Are you tripping around again or too busy teaching? Time for another update! Having travel blog withdrawals here xxxx

Gramz on

Ditto!!! xoxo

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