Impressions of Nanjing

After a week in Nanjing,  I reflect on my short time here.

I have enjoyed the “newness” and “bigness” of Nanjing. Of course, China itself is massive, compared with Taiwan; there is so much more space. I love the lights – everywhere! Buildings are outlined in lights and every night is a clever light show on the jumbotron on the building across from my room at the Jinling. (If you visit Nanjing, stay here!)

Not everything is new here. One can still see the remains of the city wall, built hundreds of years ago to protect Jinling’s citizens from invasion. Two of my homebuilding buddies took me, one night, to the Buddhist Temple, Fuzi Miao (foo-dza-me-ow) for dinner (I tried stinky tofu and lived to tell about it) and some shopping. I got a wonderful  ink painting of a dragon; my hosts bargained the dealer down to 8USD! We walked along the river, and, oddly, ran into co-workers from Taipei!

Dragon Lights

The metro system in any new city can be a bit daunting but whoever planned Nanjing’s system took into account that foreigners would be using it.  I was able to figure out (on my own!) which line and stop to take to get to the Brocade museum. It was amazing to see gorgeous fabric panels being created the old fashioned way: by hand on giant (what else?) looms.

Brocade weaver at work

One interesting thing (among many) that I saw in the metro: the government metro employees salute the train as it arrives and leaves. The walls are covered in amazing art. And of course, the system runs like a well-oiled machine.

3D underground art

I am ready to head back to Taiwan but I have a feeling that I’ll be back in Nanjing soon…

First day in Nanjing

I know I need to grab breakfast before taking a cab to work (I’ll figure out how to get there more economically later on). The buffet at the Jinling Hotel is, like everything else in China seems to be, BIG. Every type of bread, butter jam (but no peanut butter). So many vegetables (raw and cooked), fruits (no surprises, darn it, I wanted to try something new.). I am shown to my seat and they cover up my purse when I get up to make my food selections. I am addressed in English and wonder what would happen if I answered in German. They ask what I’d like to drink and I speak in Chinese (I have one cup tea.) The tea is waiting for me when I get back with my salad, veggie juice (!), and fixin’s for a croissant veggie sandwich to take to work for lunch.

Then, I’m off. I get the address written in Chinese and show it to the cab driver. He deliberates for a while and then we join the throngs on the road. The super modern streets and highways are crowded. I have no clue where we’re going. I know the office is in something called the “Soho International Plaza”. The driver is obviously lost and I’m not able to help. I’m also not able to use my phone to call anyone… by sheer luck, I see our company logo on a sign and point excitedly to it.  To the driver’s credit, he didn’t charge me the full fare. That 25 min. ride cost me 30RMB. I check in with the receptionist (who, I later find out was the one who made most of my in-China travel arrangements) who makes some phone calls. I am met by the tech doc manager who shows me to my seat. NOTE: the building is very modern and new, like so much of Nanjing. It’s a 4-floor square, built around a courtyard. Flower, bushes, and trees abound – as does the dust and, sorry to say, SMOG. My throat is already burning, reminding me of growing up in soCal. How do folks here deal with this?

Our office in Nanjing

A few short minutes later, I’m plugged into the corporate network and answering emails and setting up appointments for the week. ( I am here to work, after all.)

My development group takes me out to lunch. Unlike Taipei, most people here have cars. Nice, new ones! They know I don’t eat meat and kindly find a place that serves literally at least 20 different types of mushrooms! See? More BIG options!

At the end of the day one of my China colleagues (another American) lends me his subway card, prints out a map (there are currently 2 lines in Nanjing, with at least one more, to the airport) planned. The metro station is clearly marked and he shows me how to use the card. All metro signs are in English and Chinese, making it easy to figure out when the next train will arrive. The subway tunnel is clean. The subway cars are clean. People openly stare at us foreigners.

check out the artwork on the walls

On the way out to an expat bar owned by an Aussie, I purchase what look like logan berries (5RMB) – and although I have been warned about street food, I find they are really quite delicious. At BlueSky I have a veggie burger, fries, and we play pool.

We climb into a cab; I go back to the hotel and then he’s onto apartment, across the street from the office. At the Jinling my room is immaculate and the bottled water I requested is waiting for me. Yeah! It’s been a long day but I am excited to try my luck at taking the subway on my own.

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…