Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nanjing


            Since the Chinese like to schedule holidays at weird times, China has a national holiday for New Years on Monday January 3rd rather than on December 31st for New Years Eve. Killing two birds with one stone, I decided to take a quick trip for the day to Nanjing with Jenny and her cousins since I had never been there before.  With an undelightful early morning phone call, the cousins supposedly did their “research” and insisted that the trip took 6 hours and the only trains going to Nanjing went out of the smaller Hongqiao railway station and only a couple times a day, so we should get a move on it, even though they go hourly at the Shanghai railway station. We got to the station and still had to purchase tickets. Considering that the Cousins spoke Chinese, I was hoping that they bought us tickets to take the bullet train which only take about 80 minutes but that would be too much to ask for. We ended up taking the slow train, which took 4 hours and was packed full with people. Unlike in the States, in China you can buy tickets on the train and not have an assigned seat, and have to stand the whole time, which would be horrible, considering that the ticket prices are the same. These people stand in the middle of the walkways and many of them lug around big bags of crap that make it impossible to pass or go to the bathroom

            Although it was a long train ride it was nice to be sitting and to be able to talk with Jenny the whole time. Upon arrival in Nanjing, we were surprised to find out that there would be a family dinner we would be going to.  About 20 people showed up for the dinner all of who thought initially I was Jenny’s Boyfriend. Within a few minutes they all agreed I was part of the family since I looked like them. How that makes since I have no idea but I went along with it. The dinner was filled with great food and people and well.. lots of drinking. In the Asian culture it is a sign of respect to make toasts and they will say “gombay” which means bottoms up or essentially drink everything in your up as a sign of respect. So with so many people making toasts and drinking 3.1% beer in 4 ounce cups, things got pretty out of control quickly.  Happy to say, for some reason I was a huge hit with the main uncle and he insisted on making toasts to me multiple times and ended up talking to me more than his son in law, which I thought was weird but to top it off he was talking to me in a mix of Chinese and Spanish. He was very happy and repeatedly said this throughout the night to me. The weather in Nanjing was freezing cold and coming out of the restaurant it started to snow and began to stick. After dinner, we went to sing Karaoke, which as always is a fun time. After having a few drink in your system people tend to relax and sing their hearts out as if no one was around them which always makes for good entertainment.
Family Dinner
Jenny and I and one of the little Cousins
               With just my luck, I forgot my passport in Shanghai and rather than sleeping at the uncles house we ended up staying at a hotel. In China, if you are not a Chinese Citizen, you must register your passport with the hotel so that they can keep track you. Since I only had a copy of my passport and it meant that I had to sneak into the hotel. As the cousins and uncle talked with the receptionists I stood in the back and waited to go to the room. Since obviously I can speak Chinese I shut my mouth so that I would pass as Chinese and not give them any reason to question it. Its times like this I am thankful that I blend in.
              Once in the room, I had the wonderful idea of Jumping on the beds like I always do in hotels and invited Jenny to join me, after jumping for a few minutes she broke one of the wooden slabs holding the bed up, making the bed slanted, but no worries I slept on the other bed. To add to the ridiculous list of things that the cousins did over the trip, they decided to give us a 7:30 AM wake up call insisting that we need to have an early start. What did that early start include? Getting breakfast and then sitting at the uncles place for an hour, an hour that could have been used sleeping. We went with the uncle and his family to see some of the sights that Nanjing had to offer. We got on a big golf cart and took a tour of the remains of the Ming Dynasty imperial palace (Wuchaomen Park) and then we went to Lunch. Afterwards we went to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall followed by some fabric Museum. Lastly we went to the Confucius Temple. Although it would have been nice to stay another day or two in Nanjing and see the rest of the sites, I had to catch a train back to Shanghai to work in the morning. This time fortunately, I got a ticket for the bullet train that was 3 times as expensive 140 RMB (about $25) but it was well worth it since I was by myself. While my trip to Nanjing was short, it was nice to spend time with Jenny and see new things.
Wuchaomen Park
Jenny' Cousin's Husband@ Wuchaomen Park
Wuchaomen Park
Jenny and I @Wuchaomen Park    
Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall
Mini Sweat Shop at the Fabric Museum 
Wish Tree @ Confucius Temple
Confucius Temple
                             

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