Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A bit more of Nanjing

After a solemn visit to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, the bus led the tour group to a place that specialises in jade. It was rather educational to learn how to differentiate between a real jade and a fake one. One way to do so is to rub the jade against the surface of glass. I also learnt that wearing a jade bangle over one's left wrist can have a calming effect on one's nerves and even help to massage a particular accupoint of the body.

The jade establishment was very hospitable to treat the entire tour group to dinner. My friend who was onboard the same tour group loved it when the waiter brought a serving of chilli upon her request. It seemed that my friend has been missing the taste of spicy food for a while.

In the evening, we were led to visit the Confucian Temple in Nanjing. I must have been feeling sleepy that evening. Our tour guide gave us an account of the Confucian Temple, yet I don't seem to recall what she had said. As best as I can gather from online sources, the Confucian Temple in Nanjing was originally constructed in the year of 1034 in the Song Dynasty to worship Confucius, the great philosopher and educator of ancient China.

I vaguely recall that our tour guide had told us that there is a Jiangnan Examination School (Jiangnan Gongyuan) near the Confucian Temple in Nanjing. I read from an online source that when Nanjing became the capital of China at the beginning of the Ming dynasty, the Jiangnan Examination School served as the examination hall for candidates from all over China taking the various kinds of examinations.

Admittedly, due to the large number of crowds in the area, I did not exactly visit the Confucian Temple itself. Instead, what I recall was that there were many shops nearby the Confucian Temple. If you ask me what I remember, it was food, shopping, the dark evening skies, and the river Qin Huai near the Confucian Temple. I was looking forward to a retreat to the hotel room even before the end of the day.

We visited the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge the following morning. The bridge looked simple in design. Yet, when it was completed, it was considered an engineering feat! It was the first bridge to be built across the Yangtze River in Nanjing. I was told that the bridge was designed and constructed without external help from other countries. I enjoyed listening to the trivias that the local guide had shared with us on the challenges of building the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. I was told that many Chinese had volunteered their services and resources so as to make the successful completion of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge possible.

In many ways, the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge is a symbol of the Chinese national pride and indomitable spirit. I heard from the local guide that because this is a toll-free bridge, there is usually a high volume of traffic using this very bridge. To preserve this bridge of historical significance for generations to come, a fair bit of money has to be spent every year for the bridge's maintenance. The maintenance actually costs way more than building a new bridge. However, I think it is great foresight to preserve this special bridge to remind generations to come of the indomitable spirit of those who have made sacrifices to build this very bridge.

If you were to ask me, my favourite spots in Nanjing in the trip would be the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall and the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. Simply because they not only tell a story about the past, they tell stories of countless people who have made sacrifices in their very own ways.


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