Nanjing 6.11.2016 – Parklife

Its two months since we left so we celebrate with breakfast bananas at a local market store. We caused great hilarity amongst locals, not sure why but laughed along with them. 

Sunny walk to a park that contained Ming era walls and lots more besides. It was 9.30am on a Sunday morning so we weren’t expecting to see much but we got… practicing calligraphy with huge sponge pens, booksellers, men playing diablos, women synchronized dancing, men with kites, men twirling wooden spears in dapper white Chinese suits, dozens of pensioners ballroom dancing, people playing badminton across each other, a lady fan dancing accompanied by a lady with a sword, dozens of people playing cards or mahjong, men practicing judo, tai chi, kung fu and kendo, all in appropriate attire. A small choir practicing accompanied by a Chinese violin amplified through a PA. The noise is incredible with different pockets of music blaring in different areas. Within the arches of an imposing old gate a Chinese ensemble play, in another there is karaoke, in another a young boy has a saxophone lesson and in the last a solitary saxophone player is lost within his music. All are electronically amplified and with the stone acoustics sound momentous.

I was amazed. Genuinely amazed. For a reserved Brit, it was interesting to see people just expressing themselves, carefree and just for the fun of it. So different to a park in the UK at 9.30 on a Sunday. I find cultural differences fascinating and its moments like this that are the reason we love travelling.

Metro to the Nanjing lake, which has 5 interconnected isles in a 530 hectare park. The tables are turned and instead of us staring at people we attract curiosity.

We are initially shocked by the skyline. Buildings on the other side of the lake are shrouded in a grey haze of pollution.

There is a beautiful bonsai garden fronted by a large goldfish pond and you can buy fish food and watch a feeding frenzy. I watch for a while, fascinated, just like the toddlers.

We have had no breakfast and can’t find anything so when we come across a kids fairground Al jumps at the chance of a vienetta ice cream and I have a hotdog. I now call them gristle sticks.

Over another bridge and there is a McDs and a few local food sellers. Al has wonton soup and I have a local Nanjing special of rice noodle soup with fried tofu and liver.

There are now thousands of people enjoying their Sunday in the park so we head to the quieter west side where the old Nanjing city walls still stand. Families enjoy their picnics in tents, protecting the little ones from the sun.

Wandering home we stop for bubble tea with citrus peel and bits in.

Our hostel has a comfortable sitting area with distressed furniture, old phones and older photographs, so we relax with a pot of tea until the mosquitoes come out to play.

Sunday night in downtown Nanjing has a real buzz. Friends are shopping or eating out, sharing a hotpot or meat on sticks. Shops are all open and brightly lit, pavements are full. Al spots a ‘Yang’s Dumplings’ which we believe is a Shanghai chain. We have wonton soup and six juicy fried dumplings. Two pork, two prawn and two green. They are very good.

We wander more and find a steamy backstreet dumpling seller and have a portion of the irresistible xiaolongbao.

Finally, spotting a cleanish meat on a stick stall we end our eating fest with griddled mutton on a stick with cumin powder. Lovely.

That should be the end of the post but as we lay in bed, about to put the light out Al spots a COCKROACH. Our first one. A flip flop deals with it but we lay with the lights on for a while!

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