NANJING

The opportunity of doing four weeks exchange programme at the Nanjing University of Astronautics and Aeronautics sounds quite fascinating doesn’t it? The university, the subject and the city. City that I never even heard of. Two weeks of Chinese language and culture lectures followed by two weeks of design and manufacturing courses. Everything completely out of my comfort zone, but that is exactly what I need. Some uncertainty that help me to get distracted from other things. Something exciting, new and challenging.

That were my thoughts in spring 2014. I made a decision to go before I even got accepted and a few months later I went on a trip that is still in my heart. The trip that put me into this mindset of constantly thinking about travelling. The trip that ruined me for life.

Maybe I should have started with this post before publishing three other ones on China. But then I think those three weekends somewhere else also contributed to my experience at Nanjing and it’s easier to think about Nanjing when I have those weekends in mind. To be honest, four weeks in Nanjing were filled with absolutely everything. From loads of excitement to the days when I absolutely hated everything and I just wanted to go home. But the last bit of sentence is usually not mentioned when I’m telling  people about China. You know, it’s a bit embarrassing to tell someone that you went on the trip and wanted to go home after two weeks. However, there were many more good days in Nanjing rather than the bad ones and the bad ones actually helped me to learn a lot about myself.

Anyway, this post is about Nanjing. To visit this city is definitely not in everyone’s “to do” list and I did not see that many foreigners while there. China is huge and there are so many more things to see. However, if you have time it’s totally worth a visit. I absolutely loved the city even though not a single time I saw the blue sky there. Nanjing has it’s own charm and it is hard to talk about it. It’s better to show you that in photos, but even then you feel like something is missing. I will try anyway, enjoy!

Let’s start with the few moments from the streets. A lot is going on: traffic, little busy local businesses, ladies enjoying their square dances.

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Nanjing is a good mixture of old and new, which I really enjoyed in the city.

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CSC_0298 Nanjing city wall (21km out of 35km is still standing)

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Xuanwu lake, it is totally worth renting a boat and spending a few of hours there as well as in the park around the lake.

Another place that deserves a visit is Confucius Temple and it’s surroundings. Even though I had quite a limited amount of time for sightseeing in Nanjing, I came back here twice.

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A few more moments of everyday life. Beautiful little streets not that far away from the Confucius temple. Football players on the wall for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

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Nanjing University of Astronautics and Aeronautics (NUAA) had a great campus a bit further away from the city center.

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And it had a great aviation museum on the main campus

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Nanjing Museum was one of my favorites in China. Maybe because it was the first one I visited.

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Purple mountain is the perfect place to run away from the noisy city. That does not exactly apply for Sun Yatsen Mausoleum (the first photo), which is definitely worth a visit.

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There is another place in the city where you can find a complete silence. I didn’t take any photos there, but once you see it you can never forget. Some place that is a must although really sad to visit is the Memorial of Nanjing Massacre.

And finally, for a person who has a degree in civil engineering, these photos cannot be ignored.

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I was lucky enough to live in front of construction site and had a lot of moments when I was just waiting for something to happen. However, nothing happened and nobody died (as far as I’m aware), so maybe Chinese health and safety is not that bad (my previous lecturer would give me an F for this statement haha).

Anyway, that was my Nanjing in photos. Even after four weeks there I felt like I didn’t have enough time to see everything. A lot of time I had to sit in the classroom and often after classes it would soon get dark (silly time zone…). I might come back 🙂

Third Weekend – Huang Shan

When I was researching things to do in China, Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) was one of the first things that I came across. It is a mountain range with over 1,000 peaks in Anhui province. For a person who grew up in a country where the highest point above the sea level is 294 m, mountains have always seemed to be really exotic. No wonder Huang Shan became one of my top priorities to visit in China.

It was the end of the third week of my exchange programme in China. For the first two weeks we were studying Chinese language and culture, but a few days ago we started design and manufacturing course, which wasn’t that much fun. A lot of classes were entirely in Chinese and the translation was poor, so we’d sit in the classroom for an hour listening to the subject in Chinese just to get a quick 5 minute summary afterwards on what was said. Yes, we were excited about the weekend!

Five of us decided to miss a class on Friday afternoon and instead jumped into the bus going to Tangkou. Six hour journey to Huang Shan was waiting for us! I got to sit next to a middle age man who could actually speak good enough English and we were chatting the entire time. He was going to his son’s wedding and of course he was really excited. He told me a lot about Chinese wedding traditions and his worries about the rhythm of life nowadays. Everything is too fast, too stressful.

It was already dark when we got to Tangkou. A random man got into a bus as soon as it stopped and started asking where we’re staying. We replied saying that we were going to Mr Hu’s hotel. He made a few phone calls and after a few minutes a big black car came to pick us up. It was Mr Hu himself! We said bye to the first three guys, thinking that we might not see them ever again. We were wrong. Mr Hu was a great guy and the stay with him was an absolute pleasure. Not only he picked us up from the bus station, but also the hotel was lovely and he helped us to get to and from the bus stop for Huang Shan.

On Saturday we woke up early in the morning, got into the bus, which took us to the starting point and started climbing. Huangshan is said to have over 60,000 steps and even though we definitely did not climb every single one, it did feel like a lot.

At the beginning we were just wondering in a very thick mist (or clouds, hard to say) and could not see much. I think some kids got bored of staring at the grey wall and formed a local basketball team. Of course we joined them as well.

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After a bit more time of wandering in grey we got to see the real monkeys! It was my first time seeing monkeys outside the zoo and I was more excited about them than Huang Shan.

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For a quick moment clouds cleared out and I was lucky enough to manage to take a photo quickly.

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However, after a while it turned out that that quick moment of beauty was not just a random one. The sky cleared out completely and the views were absolutely breathtaking.

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We spend a while wandering around. It was an absolutely great day and everyone was in a good mood. It was time to find the way out and catch the bus back to the hotel. And then it started raining! It was pouring so badly that within the seconds everyone was wet from head to toes. There was no point in trying to get a cable car down, as the queue was ginormous. We weren’t sure how to get down and we spent quite a while running around looking for the right path. It was getting dark and we were at risk of missing the last bus. For people like us who were absolutely soaked and with no food supplies, it was not the best option. We started panicking.

It took as a while to find the right path down. Remember those over 60,000 steps that I have mentioned before? Yes, the legs were refusing to bend and everyone was extremely tired. Going back to Mr Hu’s and having a hot shower was all we needed for the perfect end of the day.