The drive to Nanjing from Yangzhou took about two hours. Mom and I planned to make Nanjing our base (also our flight departed from here).
Our first stop was 中山陵 or the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. The Chinese call Dr Sun 国父 or Father of Modern China. Located at Purple Mountain (紫金山), it is quite grand tribute to the man who overthrew the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and ended the feudal system.
The place was crowded with tourists because it was still Golden Week in China, the week where almost everyone is on 10-days of leave due to the National Day holiday and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Our driver couldn't drive up to the entrance of the mausoleum at first, and when we were almost resigned to making a long walk up the hill, a tout offered to take us up via his own secret shortcut… for RMB100 ($20). We paid up and he guided us to the first step of the 392 steps that led to memorial chamber.
Mom could not resist taking a photo with the student groups visiting the place.
And when you get to the top, you turn around and you will see the most awesome view of Nanjing. Definitely worth the trip there.
Our next stop was Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum (明孝陵), where the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty is buried. It is a really peaceful and pretty place for a stroll.
The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall (南京大屠杀遇难同胞纪念馆) is a place I had mixed feelings about visiting. While it is a must-visit place to know more about the atrocities which happened in 1937 when the Japanese invaded Nanjing, you will also leave the memorial hall with a heavy heart.
According to the memorial, 300,000 lives were lost in this tragic chapter of history. Mom and I spent more than two hours here, more than we expected. It was worth every minute.
We also visited Xuanwu Lake (玄武湖), a delightful lake and park. It is one of the most relaxing places we visited during this trip. We chose not to walk or take a tram, but jumped into one of the little rental electric boats (RMB60 or $12 for an hour, with a RMB100 refundable deposit).
There was no operating instructions, no life vests, nothing. So Mom and I just got on our boat and I turned on the little engine and steered my way around the huge lake. We didn't see the black dragon that the lake was named for.
The lake is a popular spot for bridal photos. And we drove our little boat up close to gawk. My Mom and I had a hoot laughing at my poor boating skills.
One of the last places we visited in Nanjing was the Nanjing Confucius Temple (南京夫子庙). Because we didn't want to take a cab and be stuck in traffic, Mom and I took the MRT to the nearest station there and hopped on a motorcycle-powered pedicab.
The Temple area is actually a big shopping area, complete with instant photo pushcarts. Cameramen offer to take your photo with the super tacky dragon wall (that lights up at night) as the backdrop, and print the digital file with their inkjet printers, for a fee, of course.
I am not sure if the great scholar and thinker Confucius would approve of the touristy commercialism of the place.
Mom and I decided to finish the evening with some desserts from the pushcarts at 夫子庙, but all I could smell was the Smelly Tofu stall.