Nanjing in 3 words: destruction-construction, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Purple Mountain

Why Nanjing?

To see the traces of the cruelties done to Chinese by the Japanese, to visit Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, to cross the longest double-decked bridge, to see Confucius Temple.

How many days are ideal for the Nanjing trip?

In order to take a superficial view of the city, one day is enough for Nanjing. You can make it 2 to spend more time at Purple Mountain that embraces the nature.

How do you go to Nanjing?

It takes 2 hours to go to Nanjing from Shanghai by high speed train, so there is nothing to say. You get on the train from one city center and get off the other. Moreover, if you would like to begin your trip from Purple Mountain, it’s too near to the train station.

Where to go/ things to do in Nanjing?

Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu province (there are 21 provinces in China). Nanjing already means the southern capital. Furthermore, between 1927 and 1949, it was the capital of the Republic of China. Nanjing has always been a priceless city, and its location has also a significant effect on its importance since it’s situated along the third longest river in the world, Yangtze River. Just a tiny piece of information: till the construction of the national railway network in 20thcentury, Yangtze River was the unique way of transportation between the inner parts of China and the west of China.

When it comes to the places to see; during my one day-long trip, among lots of alternatives, I choose to go to Yangtze River Bridge, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, Zhonghua Gate, Confucius Temple, Purple Mountain and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Mausoleum, respectively.

From Shanghai I came here by train. As soon as I got off, I got on a taxi. Near the central train station there are two sites of tourist interest: Yangtze River Bridge and Purple Mountain. I drew a circle shaped plan, including the places I’d like to see. Having seen all the places and watched the sunset at Purple Mountain, I came back to the train station.

Even you don’t cross the bridge, I highly recommend you to see Yangtze River Bridge. It’s the longest double-decked road-rail truss bridge of the world, and totally built by the Chinese, (opened for traffic in 1968). You can watch the scenery from the bridge linking the 2 sides of the city. On the bridge, there are places for parking and also balconies that enables visitors to take photos. The statues on the bridge are also worth seeing. Except for taxis, you can use the buses 15, 67, 69 to cross the bridge.

Then, I visited Nanjing Memorial Hall and Museum located in the south. If you go there by metro, the museum is just within the walking distance of YunJinLu Station. There are two part in the museum; the museum and the memorial part. This place was constructed in memory of hundreds of thousands of Chinese which had been killed during the Second World War. The number 300,000 will have already been engraved in your minds till you complete your museum journey. I have already known the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Nazi Genocide which took place during the Second World War. However, I had never heard about the massacre during which 300,000 Chinese killed by the Japanese. I think, it is a great museum as it displays a detailed time line of what had happened before, from the beginning to the punishment of responsibles. ‘Do you remember?’ sign that I saw when I was getting out from the museum is still in my mind.

Some warnings about the museum; it’s closed on Mondays, entrance is free and be ready to wait in the queue for about 10-15 minutes. So, if you go there in summer, like me, don’t forget to take your hat and umbrella with you. As you can guess, these queues are because of local school’s visits and tourist groups. And I really appreciated that, since they’re trying to raise awareness of history among children.

Third stop is Zhonghuamen, in other words Zhonghua Gate. Along with its 600 year-long history, its hugeness and dimension make it the biggest gate of China. Composing of two yards and three armories, this structure is just like a castle, not an entrance gate. If you want to watch the city on this huge city wall, a scenery just like a mass housing area awaits for you.

Then, I went on foot to Confucius Temple situated close by Zhonghua Gate. Surrounded by the river and shops, I had some difficulties in finding the temple. Although it’s a very well-known place, it’s actually in the middle of complex structures. But, when you get in, you get rid of the outside noise and the crowd. Then, you just focus on understanding the wisdom of Confucius and what’s happening all around you. In the temple composing of a few yards and buildings, I was impressed by the candles lit, big Confucius statue and music concert done periodically at the entrance. Spare some time for a music concert produced by the local instruments. Most probably you’ll come across one of them during your visit. Even though I talk about a temple, Confucianism is not a religion, but a doctrine.

My final destination in Nanjing, Purple Mountain. Its name is originated from purple and golden clouds which are located at its peaks, both at down and dusk. Hoping to experience the dusk view, I set this place as my final one. But, it was not like what I imagined, because I didn’t know that the place at the peak of the mountain closes at 17:30. Furthermore, as many places included in the natural park of Purple Mountain close at that time, I saw the memorial of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum just from the outside, then I came back. Therefore, make a detailed research about places and a to-do list before you go there, or else you have some difficulties.

If you love nature, exploring Purple Mountain is already a perfect activity. You can pass your time by walking, going to different parks, visiting people’s memorial that are important for Chinese, getting a bird’s view at the peak of the mountain (of course, if the weather is good). It’ll be more enjoyable to decide respectively which parks to see at Purple Mountain.

You can discover this natural area by train-shaped vehicles, cable cars or small vehicles that you can find everywhere in the park. As the taxis and vehicles are not allowed to enter all parts of parks and if you like walking, you can prefer such a tour.

However, I talk about the magnificent view from the peak, fog and mist don’ let you take advantage of it. If you climbed the peak of the mountain, make sure that the weather is okay. The residents come here with the aim of walking and hiking. That’s why, don’t be surprised to see many people sweating like a pig in their sports outfits and riding their bikes. But, you are less likely to be effected by the sun and rain while you’re going down the paths shadowed by the old and tens of meters long. Having visited Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, I came back to the train station. Dr. Sun Yat-sen was the founding father of modern China. It’s very remarkable that Dr. Sun Yat-sen is the only person loved by the communists and nationalists.

As a capital, in which such an important person’s grave is located, its residents were subjected to the cruelty of the Japanese. Like many people, I also regard this city as the capital of destruction and construction in which first national bridge constructed by totally local resources and technical strength of its people.

What about transportation? Developed / Expensive?

Even though there is a double-decked road-rail network, I was directed towards taxis because of the fact that the places to see were too far from each other. I don’t regret since I had spared my whole Saturday to Nanjing. The taxi tariff in Nanjing starts with 9 rmb (first 3 km involved), and it increases in every km at about 2.4 rmb.

What do you recommend to eat Alper?

As my objective is to go to all the places to see, I didn’t actually eat anything special. However, as Confucius Temple is situated in a central point, it’s easy to find something to eat according to your likes.

Is there anything special to buy?

In Confucius Temple Shop, you can find something interesting. But, I don’t propose you to buy from here. Because you can find same products cheaper outside, if you bargain with sellers. While you’re shopping in small shops around Confucius Temple, start your bargain with the one fifth of the price. Because, the price offered, would probably be higher than the normal. One seller did first offer 50 rmb for a golden-colored Buddha statue. Then, when he realized that I was not interested in the product, he reduced the price to 35 rmb. Afterward, when he saw that I was about to go to another shop, he said ‘Okay, okay; give 20 rmb.’ Of course I didn’t buy it, I acted so to see the reaction of the seller. I moved forward, and then I found a big shop in which all the products are sold for one price, and they were selling the same product from 15 rmb. That’s to say, ask for price from a few different shops; what I mean by ‘ask for price’, make a bargain till the seller begs.

Have time, what other places to visit?

If you get around as you wished, and you say you also saw Shanghai and the other beauties in the vicinity like Szhou, you can go to see the capital city Hefei of the Anhui province, where you can go by high speed train at about one and a half hours.

Final tips:

The taxis are not allowed to go everywhere at Purple Mountain. Therefore, don’t bother with the pirates vehicles that enable transportation in the natural park and also don’t care the people who say that they can guide where you want. Prefer formal train-shaped vehicles both for your own economy and for your safety.

One tip plus, you can want to have a stock in your bag before you come to Purple Mountain as the food and beverage prices are doubled.

Translated by Sevim Karaca