Sunday, September 14, 2008

What to do in Nanjing: Your Itinerary Day 1

So, here you are in Nanjing. What the hell do you do now that you're here? Hang around the Starbuck's around the corner from the Jinling Hotel? Cozy up in your hotel, watching HBO with subtitles and grazing on chinese snacks from the minibar? Tempting, given the tropical humidty levels outdoors and how it makes your freshly washed hair crazed within 30 seconds of walking outside...but no. You strap on your tevas and head for Zijin Mountain. First stop, Linggu Temple. This temple was dates back to the Ming Dynasty and was the emperor's temple. That's a stone lion, by the way, it protects the temple.
Today it is buddhist temple overseen by monks, where you can light enormous stick of incense upon whose smoke your prayers will be carried to the heavens. Or you can simply take covert photos of monks using your telephoto lens, like I did. I also purchased a prayer flag for my family--was instructed to write my family names on it so wrote all of our names (inlcuding mine, since I too am part of the family), and hung it up. Later I was told you should never pray for yourself or you will come back as a beetle or something. Great. Hopefully the deities understand I'm not really buddhist so their rules do not apply to me.
Then, you can make your way to SunYat-Sen's mausoleum where you can also take illicit photos from inside the mausoleum. The ceiling was a really pretty mosaic of a white sun on a blue background, so I felt compelled to take the photo. Even though I did get reprimanded in Chinese for it.
Then it is off to the Xiaoling Tomb from the Ming Dynasty. The spirit path that leads to the tomb is really, really cool--all sorts of enormous stone statues line the pathway for about a mile.
These were meant to scare off the evil spirits and protect the emperor from whatever might go bump in the night.
There is a gigantic old gate constructed entirely from handmade bricks. (note: the bicycle is not original to the Ming dynasty)
I guess each brick had the name of the maker imprinted on it--this way, if one ever broke, the emperor knew who to punish. Good thing he cannot see the state the bricks are in today...
And then there is the entrance to the tomb complex. Most of it is in ruins, and I could not even view the tomb as it was under repair, but I did walk amongst the see, Dragons represent royalty. Only emperors can have dragons on their buildings and clothing and stuff.
All in all, a very good day--about 7 hours of touring. I even got to eat some pickled tree lichen at lunch.

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