We had much bigger ambitions for seeing and doing more than we were ultimately able to do on our second day in Nanjing.
First of all, breakfast at the very nice Nanjing New Town Hotel was a mostly Chinese style affair, but with bacon, cereal, fruit juices, coffee, and tea also provided. The food was much better than what we’ve been eating at the guesthouse in Shanghai.
Our friends picked us up at our hotel. We left our luggage there, checked out, and rode the Metro to the park where Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Mausoleum is located. Zhenmei’s niece joined us for the trip.
The mausoleum is on the south side of Purple Mountain. We could have walked the beautiful, long, tree-lined street that went up from the Metro stop at the bottom of the mountain to the park entrance. Instead we took a small, open-air, shuttle bus. Here’s the view from the back of the bus.
The bus dropped us off near the park entrance where there were plenty of shops to buy ice cream, water, and toys, especially wind-up toy seals. Zhenmei pointed out that there are now far more shops selling stuff than there were when she and Bin had lived in Nanjing.
We snacked on ice cream and bought water to take with us on our walk. We managed to avoid buying anything at the souvenir shops before making our way to the start of the big climb. Here we all are together in a picture taken by Zhenmei’s niece.
Once again, Meredith refused to look at the camera. We’re going to be able to fill an entire album with the photos in which Meredith refuses to look at the camera.
That huge gate behind us is not the entrance. You could be forgiven for thinking that it is. It sure looks like an official entrance.
The official entrance to the mausoleum can be seen through the gate in this photo.
You have to go up the mountain side a bit to get to the 392 steps (the official number) that lead to the mausoleum.
Here I am holding Meredith just inside the official entrance, at the bottom of the steps. You can see Bin to my right, and Henry several steps ahead of him. I carried Meredith from the bottom gate up to the entrance, then all the way up those steps and then all the way down those steps.
Henry did the climb all by himself.
Did I mention that it was 97 degrees? We drank a lot of water on the way up and once at the top.
From the top, the views of the countryside and the city of Nanjing are quite stunning.
Bin told me that he’s done this walk to to the top in Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer, but that Autumn is the most beautiful, and that it’s one of his favorite things to do. From the view, I can understand why. He and Zhenmei did it in college, riding their bikes up to the entrance.
On the way down, Zhenmei told us she overheard someone say something along the lines of, “Why did they have to put it all the way up here? Even Mao wasn’t buried on the top of a mountain.”
We stopped for lunch in a mall adjacent to a Metro stop. Our intent was to eat quickly then head to Chiang Kai-Shek’s Villa and then the Old City Wall. But the kids were tired and cranky and by the time we had ordered food, finished eating, and taken potty breaks, it was after 3:00pm. With our return train scheduled to leave at 6:00pm, there wasn’t enough time to do either of those things, return to our hotel to retrieve our luggage, and get to the station in-time. It was a bit disappointing.
Stephanie, Zhenmei and the kids went to her parents home, while Bin and I went to the hotel to retrieve the luggage.
As we were waiting to hail a taxi, Bin mentioned that this was probably the first time I would be inside a Chinese person’s home in China and I said yes. It hadn’t occurred to me until Bin had mentioned it.
Zhenmei’s parents live in a modest three-bedroom unit in a short high-rise building. We called up to their unit, they buzzed us in, and we rode the elevator to their floor. When we entered, there was a table in the living room full of freshly-cut watermelon and peaches, and giant grapes. I had seen those large grapes before and had even bought some at the grocery store but they had tasted bitter to me. Turns out I was eating them wrong. They’re called “ping-pong” grapes. Bin showed me how to peel back part of the grape and then suck the sweet insides, discarding the skin and seed. I had a few of those, a slice of watermelon, and many slices of peaches.
Between the juicy watermelon and peaches, and sucking grape pulp, I was making a drippy mess on the floor in front of me, no matter how hard I tried not to be a slob. My seed-retrieving skills aren’t very good, what with being a typical American and mostly eating seedless grapes and seedless watermelons for what seems like decades now. Between my atrophied seed-retrieving skills and the succulence of the fruit, I had juice dripping and spurting out of my mouth and down my chin to the floor.
Zhenmei’s mother came into the room with a mop and began sopping up the floor space in front of me.
“I’m so sorry,” I said.
“She doesn’t want you slipping and falling,” said Zhenmei.
“Tell her I’m sorry I’m eating so sloppily,” I said. “But this fruit is excellent.”
So the first time I’m in a Chinese person’s home, I’m offered food and I proceed to make a mess of myself and the floor. Real classy on my part.
Soon we had to say our goodbyes. By the time we got on the Metro it was nearly 5 o’clock, and we just made it to our train at the station in-time, and returned to Shanghai. The next time we see our friends it will be back in Michigan.