Zhanyuan Garden was my first visit to Chinese garden while in China (I visited one in Canada). To be honest I was not overly impressed but then again this is not best garden that you will find in the country. I would soon travel to Suzhou which hosts so many of the great classical Chinese gardens. More interesting is the Museum of the History of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Most Westerners know little of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, more commonly known as the Taiping Rebellion but it was critical event in 19th century Chinese history. It involved the bloodiest civil war in history with more than 20,000,000 people killed. The museum is housed in some of the garden pavilions and was quite fascinating. I knew just a little of the details of the rebellion but thanks for the English labeled displays I now know a little bit more. On exhibit here are the weapons, robes and other relics used by the Heavenly Kingdom. They are well displayed however the explanations of the events are somewhat superficial and rather tainted by political view thus being held by the current government.
The garden itself has a fine rockery and a large pond full of goldfish. At the time of my visit, there was a photo shoot being conducted by a fashion magazine which was fun to watch.
The Zhanyuan Garden is open from 8am to 5pm and admission is Y10. The garden and museum are located around the corner from the Confucius Temple. There is a pedestrian mall and market nearby.
VERY hard to find. I walked for almost 2 hours up and down Shengzhou Lu trying to find it and no one knew what I was looking for. (I don't have communication problems!) If you're using a Chinese map, it's not where it looks like it should be.
Walk northwards from Zhonghua Lu till the junction with Shengzhou Lu, turn left into Shengzhou Lu, then keep walking till you see Zhongshan Nanlu on your right. There's a big ticket office building for long-distance buses at the corner of the junction. Turn right and continue walking down Zhongshan Nanlu and keep an eye out for a big gateway on the left-hand side with 4 Chinese characters on it; if you can read Chinese, it should say "Gan1 Jia1 Da4 Yuan4". If you're asking for directions, asking for this will help MUCH more than asking for a museum, or even asking for the street which the museum is located on! Go through the gateway and walk for a bit, look for no.15 on your left, and that's the museum. The address is 15 Nanbuting (that's Nan2 Bu3 Ting1), call them if you really get stuck! It's quite a big compound so try not to get lost inside :P and there're traditional puppet performances at 1030 and 1430.
This is a must-see museum & also the actual mass burial site that commemorate those who had sacrificed in the massacre of 1937. Almost the entire population of Nanjing then has been wiped out by Japanese troops during their sino-invasion. Young men were imprisoned & tortured for biological research or beheaded. While women were forced to become sex slaves or being raped & killed brutally.
Inside this memorial, you can see many gruesome photos with starking explanation / caption. Please note that some of the photos might be too graphical & can be disturbing to the mind.
There is one glass enclosure where you can see all the skeletal remains ranging from infants to elderly. All the skeletons are properly labelled with the deceased's identification.
At one side of the mural, you can see all the names of those sacrificed. At the front compound, it's the actual mass burial site which is covered by heaps of rocks.
Kindly note that you are not encouraged to take photo or video in this museum as this act does not respect the dead. Japanese are not allowed admission unless with special permission from relevant authorities.
"We went toward the Chinese captives bound in ropes, with rifles in our hands, the bayonets shining against the sunset. One Chinese captive faced me with his hands tied behind his back, smiling. I, trembling, stabbed him in the chest, and he howled and fell into the tide of the Yangtze River" This is an episode in the autobiography of Honda Tatsutaro,a former Japanese soldier, recounting how Japanese invading troops killed Chinese captives during the War of Resistance Against Japan.The now 91yr old arrived in Shanghai,knelt at the city's war memorial. "I must come to China to apologize before it is too late," said Tatsutaro. "I do not want to take my sins into the grave." He then turned to face the audience before reading several articles in Japan's constitution that uphold peace. After that, the repentant Tatsutaro criticized the Japanese Government led by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. "The constitution forbids waging wars, and it's been so many years of peace," said Tatsutaro. "It is unacceptable that Koizumi attempts to change the constitution on the excuse of self defence," he said. "I will defend the constitution with my life." Lasting three months in late 1937, the war was fought in a suburb of Shanghai. Involving about 1 million soldiers, it was the first major combat between China and Japan during the war. Tatsutaro joined troops stationed near Nanjing, China's capital at that time. Japanese troops massacred more than 300,000 locals after conquering the city in 1937. "He is 91, and nobody forced him to come," said Xu Qin, a staff member at the memorial who accompanied Tatsutaro during his visit. "We would forgive him even if he did not kneel down, and his behaviour here is evidence of his apology," said Xu. "I was supporting him by the hand all the way. His hand was warm and I think I can understand his heart," Xu added. (Source: China Daily)
Can consider visiting this hot spring if you want to try something different. Add: Jiang Ning Qu, Tang Shan Zhen Wen Quan Lu 8 Hao
Cost RMB 128 per person. Swimming costume is a must. Place is like a swimming complex with 40 to 50 pools with varying temperatures and themes. I like the ginseng and lingzhi pools. The pool with fishes is rather disappointing with lots of people and not many fishes. FYI, the fishes are supposed to nibble on your dead skin, giving you an exfoliation. Interesting isnt it? Too bad it didnt work out.
We took the Nan Tang (direct translation, South Soup) route from the bus stop at Nanjing train station. The bus was very infrequent and we waited 45 mins for the bus and another 1 hour on the road. Upon alighting at the Tang Shan Wen Quan, it was a 15-20 mins walk to the resort itself. Unfortunately, we were fixated on this approach and did not consider other options intially. Later we found that a one way cab ride cost RMB 80. Definitely a preferred approach in my opinion.
No pictures from this place as I was too exhausted by the time i reached there and too sleepy after dipping into the hot spring pools.
Zijinshan Observatory may not be completely off the beaten path, but the road we took to it certainly was. We came up the cable car - see my other tip - and the path from the cable car to the observatory was just bizarre. I think it went around half the mountain, and then entered the observatory gate through a bathroom. The path was extremely narrow, very rough - going from mud to rocks back to mud - the fence that would have stopped us from falling down the VERY steep slope was instead on the uphill side, stopping us from getting into the observatory without paying, and at one point the path was under construction, so we had to get around that area by hanging onto a rope strung between trees - over the slope! The observatory itself has a lovely old Kuomintang observatory building and some fascinating astronomical instruments, highly recommended to anyone interested in astronomy or just antique technologies. You can also take a bus or taxi up to the observatory, I believe, but that would be much less interesting.
Take a picture of the kiddies sliding down the flat parts of the steps (for want of a better phrase...) outside the Chao2 Tian1 Gong1 (Heavenly Worship Temple)... it's priceless! There's also a small "antique" market (more like flea market, methinks) and big statue of Confucius outside the ticketed area.
Nanjing Massacre (1937 Dec 13 to 1938 Feb)
When Nanjing was fallen to the Japanese troops, 300 thousand civilian were slaughtered in 6 weeks, by ways of shooting, stabbing, and the troops even carried out competition by killing the most.
Followed by this massacre, came along robbery, arson, raped and killed. The Court of International for Post War confirmed, during a month of the Japanese invasion, 20 thousand were rape cases. Victims ranged from 10 years old children to 70 years old women. Beside being tortured, their breast were cut and stomach ripped open.
I am only telling you the truth. My grandfather was captured to build the notorious rail road in Burma and my grandmother is a witness to the killings too.
Drop me your email address if you are interested to see the pictures I keep and to find out whether the killings of civilian during Japanese invasion is true.....
It is the longest bridge on Yangtze River & built proudly by the chinese & supported by Mao Zedong's government. This a two-tiered bridge for vehicles & trains.
You can go up to the observation deck to see the vast river & traffic crawling on the bridge. Inside the observatory a tall statue of Chairman Mao stood at the main entrance. There's a shop here displaying & selling snuff bottles & painted crystal globes.
This one of the top museum in China, in line with Beijing & Shanghai museum. It is big & separated into various themes of exhibit. Among them are jade, crystal, bronze, porcelain, arts, culture, etc. All these exhibits are clealy labelled with both chinese & english.
Should you require further explanation, you can always seek the help from museum guides / interpreter. They are very friendly & can speak fluent english. Facilities here are state-of-the-art.
If you are interested with some of the precious stones here like jade & crystal, you can even proceed to a shop at the corner of the museum. If you find the price just too exorbitant or lack of variety, don't bargain, just walk off.
Dragon Well Town, Hangzhou: My favourite place among my 1998 Nanjing trip. Here is the garden growing the best Gragon Well Tea in China. What is better than a wonderful country side plus a cup of brain refreshing tea? Their home-made style lunch was fabulous too!
During the Jin dynasty (265-420 AD), Wu Yi Xiang (meaning Black Clothes Lane) became the residence of Minister Wang Dao and was later resided by Minister Xie An as well as some other noble families. The residence was restored in 1997. It's located near the Fuzi Temple in the south of the city.
The "Cable Car" that you can take up to the top of Purple Mountain (Zijinshan) is actually more of a ski lift. It doesn't stop for you to get on or off - you have to stand and wait for it to hit the back of your knees - and the only safety bar is one you pull over your heads yourself. It looks fairly rusty and every now and then trees will hit your feet as you ride - it must be hard to keep them trimmed. I would definitely not do it with small children. On the other hand, if you feel like an adventure, you get a gorgeous view of the city (or as good as it gets, with the smog), and when was the last time you were dangling hundreds of feet above a Chinese Mountain, trying to watch out for trees? You can also get off at the Zijinshan Observatory (it's halfway up) and combine two Off the Beaten Path activities in one.
Notable sights here are the Pavilion of Victory at Chess (commemorating a Ming Emperor's board game triumph), the Lotus Water Terrace, a cherry-apple garden and a lakeside pavilion with fine examples of furniture and paintings.
Nanjing Botanical Gardens.
This was a very pleasant surprise! When I was there the tulips were in full bloom! Since I love tulips, it was a delight!