We spent a good deal of time yesterday on the train from Hangzhou to Nanjing. It’s about a 5 to 6 hour ride, so there was no shortage of time to admire the scenery floating by outside the train. The people crammed in beside me didn’t have the best hygiene habits, so I also had plenty of time to admire a wide assortment of body odours.
The hostel in Nanjing is located in Fuzimiao, the city’s major shopping zone. This makes for great eating and buying opportunities, as well as moderately good photo opportunities. Fuzimiao basically means “Confucian temple.” The central building in the area is a Confucian temple. Staring around at this blinking, flashing assault of rampant commercialism, I wonder what Confuscious would say about it all?
Today, Dad and I went to the museum commemorating the 1937 Nanjing massacre by invading Japanese soldiers. According to records, the Japanese killed 300,000 people here as they invaded the country. The museum was very impressive. It occupies an entire city block, and is decorated on the outside by a series of very sobering statues, emblazoned with quotes like, “My poor dear wife! The devils raped you, killed you… I’m right after you!” and “Never returns the son killed, never returns the husband buried alive. Sorrow drowns the woman raped. Heavens…” Inside, the displays include photos, movies, and testimonials by people who witnessed the event. Thousands of artifacts, including weapons, uniforms, newspapers, money, etc. from the event are meticulously documented and displayed. The museum is also built around an archeological dig of one of the mass graves, so you can peer down into a pit and see hundreds of skeletons belonging to victims dumped into a pit by Japanese soldiers trying to hide the evidence of their activities in the city. It was eerie, to say the least.
Being that the museum was so enormous, I managed to lose track of Dad in there, and returned to the hostel on my own. I asked a stranger in Chinese if she had change for a 10 RMB note, to which she immediately replied, “Do you speak English?” I take that as a critique of my Chinese skills, but nonetheless, it was nice to talk to a native who spoke excellent English. She actually took the time to put me on the right bus, which happened to be the same one she was taking, and then walked me directly to the hotel. There’s something to be said about the kindness of strangers. It’s especially amazing in China, which can often seem like the most dog-eat-dog of places.
Tomorrow we board an overnight train to Xi’an, home of the famous terra-cotta warriors. After that, I’m looking forward to stretching out further west, into more remote areas of the country, away from the big cities.