Sunday, September 14, 2008

What to do in Nanjing: Day 2

Day 2. Now what? Well, after a whole lot of shopping for fine teas and handcrafted teapots made in the region from local earth and clay and a morning spent with freakishly pushy salespeople trying to force me to buy the most expensive jade pendant known to man (apparently the clearer the jade, the more valuable it is--so jade that looks almost like white glass is worth a bazillion bucks. But you see, I like green jade and that is what I wanted even though it happens to be the commoner's jade--my saleslady chastised me for this, telling me only old ladies buy darker green jade because their skin is dark and sun-damaged and only drak jade will show up. Way to insult the paying customer...), I was off to see more old Chinese stuff.
Like the Ming City walls that still encircle much of Nanjing. My guidebook tells me it is the longest city wall ever built--like, in the world. Also, you see the stamping of bricks again here with the maker's name and date it was made. If it broke, the maker had to replace it.
Then I went onto the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom museum--which is actually the remains of the house and gardens the emperor had made for his general who was very popular with the people--it was the emperor's way of telling him he wanted him to retire now and just sit back and enjoy the elaborate gardens--and quit making the emperor feel insecure about the fact that the people liked him better.
Only I guess the emperor still felt too insecure even with the general retired because he sent him a whole salted duck--which the general was allergic to. A not so subtle message from the emperor that he wanted him dead--and I guess the general complied and ate the duck.
And onto the Fuzi Temple and School for Confuscian Scholars. Also really, really old, dating back to the Qing dynasty.
You can see more incense smoke here--this time intended to waft up to Confuscious himself so he can bestow short but pithy words of wisdom upon you.

And the I just got kinda tired of all the old stuff and headed over to a modern art installation at the Nanjing Museum.
Lots of shiny plastic scupltures and messages about enviromentalism and recycling prevailed. But I'm still not sure what this bundle of mummified babydolls means though...And at the end of the day, when you do not want to eat another dish of pigeon and pickled tree lichen, I highly recommend this Italian restaurant on a dingy backstreet: Ciao Italia. Had some amazing hand made pasta there and the lovely little Italian man who owns the place topped the meal off with a shot of Limoncello. Bella!

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