So I haven’t written in a while for very good reason. I’ve been travelling, drinking excessively and eating like a French King before the revolutions stopped all that goodness.
First I had the pleasure of heading out to Nanjing . . .
Now when you ask the Chinese about Nanjing they tell you it’s quite a small little town and by the way they talk you kind of feel like you are heading out to Potchefstroom when in actual fact it has the population of Johannesburg, roughly 10mill. As I arrived at my hotel I was aimlessly reading the hotel info, waiting for the elevator only to find out I was standing in and staying in the 7th tallest building on earth (nice ‘rural’ town!)
So what did I learn in Nanjing . . .
1. The combination of an ever growing and developing first world nation set on top of the ancient legacy of Chinese dynasties is incredibly beautiful. I had the fortune of exploring Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum which is basically the resting place of the first Ming Dynasty’s emperor.
You can imagine based on the village they built for him to be dead in, what power he must have wielded during his life!
2. As I strolled through the ancient parks surround by a city wall that is barely even a feature of China, let alone known by the rest of the world (but is 50m high and 10m thick – a mini Great Wall) I noticed how appreciative the Chinese are of each other’s talents – this was ribbon dancing just performed for the fun of it followed by spinning top people, singers and on and on simply in the park through the day for no other reason than enjoying a skill and enjoying the ability to entertain those who pass by!
3. The other thing you notice is how the Chinese regard the environment which, is somewhat of a surprise, as they are viewed as great destroyers of the natural world by most outsiders. You would generally put this down to an amusing translation mistake but the more I study and learn Mandarin here the more I realise the emotion conveyed in the words which makes me appreciate signs like this are not mistakes but rather the true meaning coming out!
4. Simply put, to eat here is fantastically exciting (both in location and in content) but you have to be brave (and when you get to the bottom of your soup you are likely to find something’s head). Eat it, experience it and never be that annoying foreigner who says ‘eeewww that’s disgusting!’
5. When you are in the 7th tallest building in the world the views are unreal but if you are brave enough to stand right up against the glass you can actually feel just how insignificantly mortal you are, but if you lay in the bath overlooking the same view you can feel like an unstoppable god!
6. I had to stay on a few days for business and my clients budgets for travel are slightly different to my own so I went from a suite at the Intercontinental to a room that cost RMB 300 (400 ZAR per night). It had a flat screen, a double bed and bathroom amenities – all in all I think it was the best value for money hotel (or motel) room I’ve stayed in anywhere in the world!
7. Finally and most importantly I learnt that language is the biggest barrier to communication but if you add a drinking game, 5 people who speak no English, one laowai, a singer in full silver and a DJ in full gold you can communicate like you are Siamese twins.
This is one of the reasons I came to China and I must say its taken me a while to get going (only Suzhou has been the other trip so far, well that and Bali & Singapore and now Bangkok and back to SA – ok so a bit in 6 months) but now that I’m up and running its going to be a hell of a ride, that I’m sure of!