The train to Nanjing leaves two minutes before its scheduled time. Apparently there is no such thing as being late for a train.
The high speed rail skis through countryside fog. Or is that pollution? No one seems to know the difference around here.
Nanjing is an old Capital, the southern capital to Beijing’s northern capital, but now it is mostly a college town. It is bordered by the oldest city wall in the world, a remnant of the 14th century Ming dynasty. The city has a spectacular mix of architecture, from the Ming-era walls, to the 2,500 year old Confucius temple, to the 1912 district where Sun Yat-Sen set up the Republic of China, to the contemporary shopping districts and artsy Nanjing library.
It pays to be a flaneur in Nanjing.
The artful look of the Nanjing massacre museum is enough to lay waste to Singapore’s urban “environs”.
The Nanjing Massacre Museum is part recovered history, part stacks and stacks of official documents that apparently prove that the Nanjing Massacre actually happened. Japan, typically, still denies the massacre, though on occasion the government admits that around 3,000 people may have been murdered. Chinese researchers estimate the total at around 300,000, about half in mass massacres, and about half in random slaughtering, looting and rape.
This is not the first massacre and war museum that I’ve been to that spends half its time speaking against Japanese official history. There seems to be one in almost every city that the Japanese occupied.
The student-heavy night life districts and night markets are merged with the ancient sites, creating areas that are sacred during the day, and then at night, are inhabited by Chinese electronic music, buzzing lights, and wasted students. For anyone wondering what Chinese electropop sounds like, consider SingerSen.
For their lack of any internationally famous tourist spots, Nanjing is more for students than travelers or tourists. Perhaps that is why the people here seem so playful, vibrant and helpful.
A kind avuncular Chinese professor living in America shows me around the city, announcing proudly that Nanjing is “my city!”
Thus I experience Chinese KTV (karaoke) for the first time, which is quite similar to KTV in Taiwan. Perhaps because the KTV companies are Taiwanese, and all the lyrics are in traditional Chinese script.
“We paid so much for that room, those KTV girls would have done anything we wanted.”
—Anything? As in, fix our cable?
Many of the foreign (white) students I meet are Sinophiles, who study Chinese history, culture and language, just for the hell of it. Their love for the culture and the scripts is shown in every polite gesture they make with the locals, every laugh and piece of barbecued kebab they share. It is a fascination that for many of them, began with films of Zhong Yimao, Ang Lee and Wong Kar Wai.
Check this city among one of the places I wouldn’t mind spending a year in.