Nanjing Moments by Night and Day

As a city full of history, culture and beauty, Nanjing has so much to offer. This place emits appeal and intrigue, from its historical attractions, mysterious parts and tempting delicacies.

Known as the capital of Jiangsu Province, and the second largest city in the East China region, Nanjing has a prominent position in Chinese history and culture and is certainly worth a visit. Having served as the capital of various Chinese dynasties, the city has since long been a hub for culture, tourism, transport networks, education and economy.

After being told that my friend from my hometown was recently in Shanghai and knowing his itinerary, I simply had to book a flight and meet him in Nanjing. Booking a return flight through WeChat’s “Rail and Flights” mini-program, I got a pretty reasonable last-minute deal at 1,200 RMB and flew from Guangzhou Airport at an ungodly hour to maximize my trip duration.

A quick two-hour flight and I was straight to the airport’s outdoor ticket window to get a bus. I headed to my hotel, which I had already booked on Booking.com and dropped off my backpack. Fuzimiao is the name of the southern city which literally translates to “Confucian Temple,” and is located on the banks of the serene Qinhuai River. This was, of course, our chosen destination for the weekend, and it was an ideal base.

Upon reuniting, it was a great moment to see John and meet his German friend. A massive hug and catching up on stories of their travels was uplifting. The streets were busy and there were tons of delicious aromas all around the central area of Fuzimiao. On the contrary, our next stop which was at Nanjing Massacre Museum was eerily static and cold. We didn’t actually enter the museum but simply observing the exterior was truly petrifying. The gigantic statues that explicitly represent the desolation are compellingly captivating and the energy that lingers around the entire building is so evident. Can you imagine going inside? The museum shuts before dinnertime so be sure to go in the daytime.

Heading to the metropolitan area, we were surrounded by people, cars and some impressive buildings with LED displays. We checked out the intriguing bazaars of the underground markets and later grabbed some delicious crab-filled soup dumplings, shrimp pancakes and the renowned Nanjing duck was also brought to the table. Our day led us to a charming bar, followed by singing our hearts out at a KTV bar not too far from the Confucius Temple.

Sunday highlights included visiting Nanjing’s Confucius Temple, the Nanjing Imperial Examination Museum of China and the Historical Museum of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Entry fees were just 30 RMB per attraction. The Confucius Temple featured a grand statue of the main man himself, with a ton of history presented around the National AAAAA Scenic Spot. If you enjoy picturesque gardens and ponds, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom is for you. Check out the City Wall of Nanjing for more history, while noticing the impressive structure and panoramic views. Go at night and see the entire thing illuminated.

If you head to this beautiful city don’t forget to visit the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, which is located at the foot of Purple Mountain. More than 200 heritage and scenic tourist sites are situated in or around the mountain, which itself often depicts peaks wrapped up in enigmatic purple and golden clouds at dawn and dusk. History and culture meet scenery and wonder, what more could you ask for?

A lovely afternoon tea at a restaurant adjacent to the river known as “Lai Yan Li,” was blissful. I indulged in pan-fried yellow croaker, honey roasted sesame banana for dessert and a lovely pot of tea. Just on the outskirts of the main shopping area, this was a tranquil spot.

When it came time to head back to Dongguan, purely for convenience I took a Didi from the Confucius Temple to Nanjing Airport, costing 90 RMB. It took just under an hour, during which I smiled to myself thinking about the adventure I’d had in such a short time. People often wish trips like these would last longer, but moments are more memorable than hours or weeks, so this was just perfect.