I had my best adventure yet in Nanjing, a day exploring the tourist side, the local side, and the glamorous side of drinking a Starbucks vanilla latte in a shopping center full of familiar stores. I stepped out of my comfort zone and ate new things and went exploring in areas where all the signs were in Chinese. I had a new appreciation of Nanjing. I went to bed happily thanks to a perfect shower and was ready to take on the next day early for the sake of good lighting.
At 12:30 a rolling suitcase, a human woke me up, and lights woke me up. I managed to go back to sleep but they came in yet again at 1:30am. I couldn’t sleep. I tried and tried but it just wasn’t working. Eventually I did but this person’s alarm clock went off at 6:50am and then again ten minutes later. The idea of waking up early and taking pictures was not happening. I needed more rest. When I finally woke my tried body longed for Starbucks but the ones in tourist areas don’t open till ten so I had a mini subway journey before a latte was in my hand.
My goal of the day was to visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Mausolem but the last thing wanted to do was climb a bunch of stairs and deal with a bunch of tourists. Since I woke up later I would be cutting it close with time to be able to catch my train back to Chuzhou. And I always get lost so that would be even more added time. I compromised and decided to go to the much closer Nanjing Massacre Memorial. I knew enough about the massacre and decided to pay my respects.
The memorial was pretty massive but I was torn about it. First there was the woman taking a selfie with the death count. That just made me uncomfortable. There a man spitting and another smoking but that is just normal life in China. Doesn’t matter if you are at a memorial for 300,000 dead people. There was the man who was jokingly throwing his girlfriend in the fountain which just seemed disrespectful as we just passed the tomb of thousands of people. Plus, its also the way the Japanese are still treated in China. In the memorial is said “not to hate” but 30% of Chinese TV is the Japanese getting slaughtered. I have seen very little Chinese television but what I have seen is war reenactments and a ridiculous amount of Japanese people getting slaughtered. (Watch this fun video!) Plus, the Communist Party aka the Chinese government isn’t really known for its human rights… As I was leaving all the sellers were out at the entrance selling food and Chinese flags which made me feel even more torn. But nevertheless I am glad I went. I did manage to get lost getting back but got to the train station in time for departure and another Starbucks visit.
I went to Nanjing to get a photo of a bridge but never got it. I think it was something about the lighting. The sky was white my whole time there either from smog or fog or both. I think there is something about the crisp blue sky and the yellow boats that I wanted. But I did get other photos that I really like. Besides capturing photos I had a great adventure and saw sides of Nanjing I never knew which is more important anyways.
I have noticed I like people in my pictures in China. In a country of 1.4 billion there is always someone around. Even in the privacy of my apartment I can hear the cars honking and hear my neighbor doing laundry below me. The only time I was ever “alone” was when I was in a village of 180 people and took a hike up a mountain for half an hour. But even then I heard farmers working and chatting in the field. Capturing China means capturing the people. Taking a picture of a memorial is just fine. But a boy holding a Chinese flag next to a memorial in China is capturing a moment and a memory. One thing that stood out to me was that many people had flags and numerous children proudly held them as the waddled along. I am glad I got a picture of that observation. Also, a couple with their baby in front of the peace monument is more powerful than just the monument by itself.
I am also getting better at editing my photos. I have been using the app Snapseed and really like it. For my pictures of local life I have noticed “less is more.” Filters just look odd and feel false. Local life is captured best as it really is so I just fix up the lighting and stuff. I have noticed though that modern architecture looks great with a dramatic filter as it really gives it a “wow” factor.
Also, during this trip whole weekend trip I remembered to drink lots of water and I think it really helped my mood. A bottle of water is only two yuan so its super cheap to stay hydrated and happy. Plus, I can practice my very little Chinese: “How much?” “Red.” (My favorite brand in China has a red sticker on it.) They are usually slightly impressed.
It looks like I won’t be heading back to Nanjing anytime soon but I am glad my last time there allowed me to it in a whole new perspective.