Enjoying the Blue Skies
My train arrived midday in Nanjing. It was nice to sit by the window on the train and watch the brown farms and landscape pass me by. One man spoke English and provided a little light conversation (though I'm not much of a casual conversationalist). He said the area coming up to Nanjing was one of the poorest parts of China we were traveling through. In the same section of beds as us was an older coulple and a farmer. One man was having problems with his back and the farmer was trying to dole out medical advice while the woman there was an actual doctor (I was told). Then, as we were coming up to Nanjing, I put on my hiking boots and started to tie them. Two older men took a little interest in my shoes, one man even sticking his finger in to feel the teeth holding the laces near the top (I guess they've never seen the none-hole teeth on Western hiking boots).
Not exactly sure of the location of my hotel (Google Maps in China just a tad insufficient this rare occassion), I hired a taxi. However, she took me to the wrong hotel. There are in fact two hotels with the same name (same chain) along the main downtown road (though one hotel was actually just a block off the road). So an employee in the hotel escorted me outside and across the street to flag a taxi and tell him where to take me.
One thing about the taxis in China is that they all ask for 1 CNY more than the price shown. It's only $0.15, so I never bothered to argue. That's one nice thing about an uber cheap CNY and a Western salary, I have no reason to get upset when they try to scam me of just a little money.
The weather in Nanjing was nice. It was much warmer than Beijing and the skies were a beautiful blue. I spent the afternoon wandering around 玄武湖公园 Xuanwu Hu Park, a man-made lake in central 南京 Nanjing with three square, man-made islands. The price to enter the park was reasonable at 30 CNY (just over $4 USD), another nice thing about these cheap East Asian nations. The park includes a small children's amusement park.
A statue at Lotus Square in 玄武湖公园 Xuanwu Hu Park (Xuanwu Lake Park).
A closer look at the statue in 玄武湖 Xuanwu Lake at Lotus Square.
In the park were middle school students doing a marathon around the islands. In a quieter part of the park, a group of three schoolgirls said "hello", which was the first time some Chinese decided to say anything to me (apart from the man on the train this morning).
At one point in the park, I passed three Chinese enjoying a walk through the park, too. They stopped wanting a picture, so I smiled, nodded, and reached for the camera to take a picture of the three of them. It soon became clear, however, that the woman wanted a picture of her with me. That doesn't exactly mesh well with my Western style, so I politely shook my head and waved my hand. They understood and we nicely parted ways. I never knew foreigners were that rare in Nanjing (though I have had a couple of my students in Korea want a picture of me).
One the south side of the lake are old city walls. I followed them back into the city and wandered through a quiet residential area. I continued to roam around the main, clean shopping district. This was a nice day.
Decorations outside one of the big department stores in the shopping district of downtown 南京 Nanjing. I think the cat-like characters are cute.
Like in Shenyang, people in Nanjing can walk out and wait in the road for traffic to stop. The weather in Nanjing, though, was kinda warm, especially compared to the freezing cold I've experienced up north. There was also a lot of bicycle traffic around Nanjing. The main roads in the city center had dedicated bicyle lanes in the road and bicyle traffic lights at the intersections. The only problem was at the bus stops where the bicyle lanes would get pushed onto the sidewalk and disrupt pedestrian traffic.