Saturday, July 30, 2011

Next stop, Nanjing

Today, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Travel, Page T8, T10

Source Website:,-Nanjing
Priscilla Siew,, 04:45 AM Jul 28, 2011

Nanjing shrugs off its history to become a dynamic bustling city in its own right

PHOTO: Nanjing Qin Huai River
Nanjing shrugs off its history to become a dynamic bustling city in its own right

Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

Today, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Travel, Page T8

As a travel destination, Nanjing is often overlooked in favour of cultural Beijing and commercial Shanghai. But Nanjing - literally "southern capital" - has always held an important place in Chinese history.

It was a pivotal city during the Three Kingdoms period and remained an important place throughout the different dynasties as a textile hub before the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Hongwu, made it the capital.

It was also during this time that the city gained its structure as Hongwu ordered the construction of city walls. The 600-year-old and counting walls still stand, making it the most ancient city walls in the world, according to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

The city also entered the annals of history as the site of the horrific Nanking Massacre. But from the ashes of history and destruction, Nanjing has rebuilt itself into a cosmopolitan, fast-developing metropolis while retaining its pretty, historical landscape.

A sense of history

As one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China (the other three are Beijing, Luoyang and Xian), Nanjing served as the capital for six dynasties. It is perhaps no surprise that one of China's biggest museums holding great treasures of the past is located here.

Taking up a space of 70,000 sq m, Nanjing Museum has a collection of more than 400,000 artefacts, ranging from ancient bronze and jade items, to calligraphy and paintings from various dynasties, to Ming and Qing porcelain. Other exhibits include collections of folk art, silk from the Jiangnan region, as well as contemporary art.

Nanjing's warring history can be seen at the Nanjing City Wall and its southern Zhong Hua Gate. Built in the 14th century, they were a key part of the city's defence during ancient times.

The Tai Ping Kingdom History Museum, which commemorates the short-lived rebellion against the Qing dynasty and feudalistic system in 1851 to 1864, and the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, which documents the World War II massacre, are records of the city's tumultuous past.

PHOTO: Nanjing Qin Huai River
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

Today, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Travel, Page T8

To get a taste of how life might have been in the grand dynastic era, head to the Qin Huai River, which branches off from the famous Yangtze River. This was the birthplace of old Nanjing culture and it was a centre for the leisurely pursuits of aristocrats, artists and scholars who gathered along the river banks.

PHOTO: Nanjing Qin Huai River
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd,-Nanjing

Although the river fell into disrepute following the wars which destroyed many buildings and left the river polluted, a massive restoration project which began in 1985 has turned things around.

PHOTO: Nanjing Qin Huai River
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd,-Nanjing

Today, buildings along the sides of the now-clean river have been re-constructed in the traditional Ming and Qing architectural style, evoking memories of ancient Nanjing. Take it all in on a river cruise in a traditional boat, which is especially pretty when the river lights come on at night.

PHOTO: Confucius Temple Area
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd,-Nanjing

One of the highlights along the Qin Huai River is the Confucius Temple (Fu Zi Miao). The temple is a tribute to the ancient Chinese philosopher whose thoughts formed the underlying basis of Chinese society, and whose impact stretched beyond Chinese shores to influence the development of Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures as well.

PHOTO: Youth culture outside Confucius Temple
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd,-Nanjing

Signs of modern times

But what would Confucius say if he found out that the area around his temple is now filled with blatant consumerism? Tea houses and small stalls selling local food and knick-knacks are set within the buildings, and fast-food chains and small fashion outlets have also appeared nearby.

It seems that Nanjing can't wait to embrace its vibrant, dynamic and modern side. If the Confucius Temple area is a great shopping spot for small local items, then Xin Jie Kou, Nanjing's dazzling commercial and shopping district, is the place to go for modern retail finds.

In department stores and mega complexes such as Deji Plaza and Golden Eagle Shopping Centre, you can find anything from major global chains like Walmart and Watsons, to high-end brands Gucci and Fendi.

Fu Zi Miao Market at 28 Dashiba Jie is a wholesale centre where you can get anything ranging from socks to electronic toys. Don't worry, you don't have to buy in bulk; Hunan Lu is another good district to browse through stores selling clothes and souvenirs.

PHOTO: Nanjing 1912 district
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd,-Nanjing

For a night out in style, head over to the 1912 nightlife district, a cluster of upscale restaurants, cafes, tea houses and bars. The development was named after the year Dr Sun Yat-Sen overthrew the last dynasty of China and established Nanjing as capital of the newly formed Republic Of China.

PHOTO: 1912 District
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd,-Nanjing

Today, it is more about the consumer revolution than anything remotely political. For the trendy seeking to wine and dine, this is the place to see and be seen.

While air pollution is still a problem in Chinese cities, the good thing is that you don't have to travel very far for some fresh air and greenery in scenic Nanjing.

PHOTO: Ling Gu Temple at Purple Mountain
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd,-Nanjing

Seek respite in The Purple Mountain (Zi Jin Shan), just a 15-minute cab ride from the city centre. Its peaks are often found shrouded in purplish and golden mists in the early morning and evening. Attractions include the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum, the Ming Xiao Ling Tomb, Ling Gu Temple and the Purple Mountain Observatory. It will probably take a full day to see them all, and it's best to avoid coming here during weekends and public holidays if you want to avoid crowds.

PHOTO: Qi Xia Mountain
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd,-Nanjing

About 30 to 40 minutes away from the city is the Qi Xia Mountain. Its beautiful scenery is the perfect backdrop for trekking - a paved trek up the mountain is built around a network of Chinese pavilions, lotus ponds and natural stone formations. In autumn, the maple trees shed their leaves and give the mountain a magical copper hue.

PHOTO: Qixia Mountain, Jiangsu
Situated 22 kilometers northeast of Nanjing City, Qixia Mountain (Sheshan Mountain) is dubbed "the most beautiful mountain in Nanjing". The mountain is 286 meters high and has three peaks - Dragon Peak, Tiger Peak and Fengxiang Peak.
The mountain is popular for its maple trees. Each year, when the autumn arrives, thousands of local residents and visitors rush to the mountain to camp to see the red and golden maple leaves, which covers the whole mountain. Standing in the maple woods, visitors will feel surrounded with rosy clouds. Therefore, "the red maples on Qixia Mountain (Qixia Danfeng)" are regarded as one of the ten scenic sights in Nanjing.

Source: Global Times
Top 9 Chinese places to appreciate maple leaves this autumn

PHOTO: Pavilion along the trek of Qi Xia Mountain
Today, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Travel, Page T10

PHOTO: Qixia Mountain(栖霞山) is not far from the Nanjing City of China.
Lying 22 km northeast of Nanjing City, Qixia Mountain(栖霞山)is dubbed “the most beautiful mountain in Nanjing”. The mountain is 286 meters high and has three peaks - Dragon Peak, Tiger Peak and Fengxiang Peak.
Posted on Apr 28 ,2011 by admin123

And as you take in the view, that's when you realise that it's just as well Nanjing isn't like Beijing or Shanghai. Its wonderful mix of old and new, city and nature, is just perfect the way it is.

PHOTO: The Qixia Temple Restaurant offers vegetarian foods for travelers.
The well-known Buddhist temple, Qixia Temple, is located on the mountain. This temple was erected in 489 BC and was enlarged in the Tang Dynasty. It was once recognized as one of the Four Largest Temples in history. The temple was destroyed by fire during Qing Dynasty and reconstructed years later. The temple has a number of critical historic relics such as the Thousand Buddha Cliff, the Royal Stele and the Sheli Pagoda.
Posted on Apr 28 ,2011 by admin123

Getting there
China Eastern Airlines flies three times a week to Nanjing.

Where to stay
The Nanjing Holiday Inn, or Holiday Inn Aqua City, is affordable and has good service and location. Rates start from just under S$110. The Intercontinental Hotel offers views of Xuan Wu Lake from certain rooms; rates start around S$170.

Where to eat
Chow on local snacks (or xiao chi) such as fried spring onion pancakes, shredded bean curd sheets and dumplings at Gong Yuan Street in the Confucius Temple area. Hu Nan Street is lined with stalls and small restaurants specialising in local delicacies. There's a range of international restaurants in Nanjing. Try Skyways Bakery for sandwiches and freshly made bread, Meeting Point for cosy osteria-style Italian food, and Himalaya for a hearty blend of Nepalese and Indian food.