Monday, January 23, 2012

Nanjing in my Sights

With Lonely Planet's admonishment - Danger, Will Robinson! - lurking
in the back of my brain and Gary's invitation to spend Spring Festival
celebration with him and his family resting bitterly in my craw, I did
not want to stay in Shenzhen longer than necessary. Being as I
couldn't buy a train ticket back to Wuhan till at least the 25th,
eight days would decidedly be longer then necessary. Even if the
weather forecast did not call for rain over the next few days, as it
was currently doing. Warm temps or not, there has to be something
interesting and engaging to do, other than ride buses all day.

While still at the ticketing window I did some fast thinking.

Nanjing is only 6 hours away from Wuhan by long distance bus and even
closer by train. If I could get to Nanjing, I should be able to find a
bus or buy a train ticket back to Wuhan, perhaps even in time for the
New Year celebration party at Gary's house.

Besides, I've long wanted to go to Nanjing. it is both historically
and culturally significant. The name itself translates to 'South
Capital'. It was the Capital of China for several dynasties. There is
bound to be a lot of iconic architecture and preserved monuments.
Furthermore, in Nanjing, formerly known as Nanking is where the
Japanese massacred the entire city's population, the reason why the
Chinese revile their Eastern neighbor. There will surely be edifices
to commemorate that event. Finally, as one of China's oldest cities,
rivaled only by Xi'an and Beijing itself, there will most likely be
many touristy attractions.

Quickly, mindful of the hoards of people in line behind me to buy
their tickets I asked the agent if she had tickets for Nanjing. She
pulled up a ticket for the 22nd, at a price of 236Yuan. Now that was
amenable and affordable! I handed over the cash and left the window
with my coveted ticket in hand.

I was proud of myself. Not only did I find my way out of my quandary,
but I did so completely by myself, and in Chinese. I am the coolest
foreigner ever! The best Vagabond in the history of vagabonds!

And then I sat outside, considering my new kettle of fish. Nanjing is
going to be cold. Wuhan type cold, requiring layers of clothing. But,
on the other hand there will be cool things to see and do. Plus, I'll
be staying in a hotel with free heat and as much hot water as I want.
Maybe, instead of heading right back to Wuhan for Gary's party I'll
just kick around Nanjing for a while. Gary already expressed his

Next hurdle: this train ticket is for a hard SEAT, not a hard sleeper.
Well, I'll have to sit up for... 25 hours and 36 minutes! Well! That's
a long time to sit on a train. But on the other hand, I'll be on the
train on the very night of the festival. Maybe the train won't be
crowded to over capacity and I'll be able to slouch some. Also, it
might be fun ringing in the new year with a trainload of people. That
would be a sight to see, no? Besides that, 25+ hours on a train is no
worse than 25 hours on a Greyhound, and I did that this summer.

And, I don't even have to worry about food. I can go to the local
Walmart, right across from my hotel and buy some noodles and snacks,
go to a fruit vendor and buy fruit... all in all, it might be a fun
experience. I'll have my Kindle fully recharged on the last night I
leave Shenzhen, and I can bundle up and stay warm, and... and...

The spirit of optimism is running away with me. I'll be out of
Shenzhen on the 22nd! WooHoo!!!

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