Hello there! How are you? Ni hao ma?
I am finally in Nanjing. And you guessed it…it’s cold! I knew that it would be cold, but I guess I didn’t factor in what that means for daily life. The outside world is misty and bleak, all greys and browns and leafless trees. It’s the annual Chinese New Year holiday, so most of the shops are closed and the streets are quiet – not many people, not many cars. Everyone has gone back to their home towns.
I also have a cold. Boo. Have spent the past two days in bed with a hot water bottle and tissues, watching old episodes of Breaking Bad on my laptop.
BUT. That does not mean I’m not excited to be here. I’m in China! And I have gone for a few walks and taken some snaps of our local hood. Once people are back from their holiday and the shops start to open, I think it will be a much more lively place to be.
Plus in one hour, I am getting the train all the way to Kunming in the west – two sleeps on the train. How fun is that? I love trains. I have two good books, my camera, my diary and not much else. Adventure awaits!
A few observations on the first 6 days in Zhongguo
- The Great Internet Firewall of China really does exist, and it’s pretty annoying (hello government officials who may be reading this – maybe lighten up on the censorship?). Bye bye Facebook, Google, WordPress, Flickr, Instagram and lots of other fun online things.
- There is kindness everywhere. I was well looked after by my Sydney friend’s family in Shanghai on my first night, and then once I arrived in Nanjing, my friends Chang and Tim collected me from the train station, took me to my apartment, and whisked me off for Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner with their family. The next day, I was invited back for lunch to finish off the leftovers, followed by a walk in the winter sunshine at Xuanwu Lake. Tim’s Mum then gave me about 10kg of apples, saying 苹果平安 ‘Pingguo Pingan’. Ping guo = Apple and Ping an = Safety and Peace. Apparently you give apples to keep someone safe and sound. Isn’t that nice? Needless to say I can’t eat 10kg of apples on my own, so I cooked up about a kilo’s worth and have been enjoying stewed apple at every meal! Only another 9kg to go! Any apple-related recipes would be welcome 🙂
- When you walk around quiet neighbourhoods taking photos of seemingly unremarkable things, people may think you are a spy. And then you might start feeling like a spy.
- This year is the Chinese Year of the Sheep, or 羊 yáng. If you were born in this year (1955,1967,1979,1991), you should wear at least one item of red every day, to ward off any evils that may befall you. The Sheep is the most creative sign in the Chinese zodiac, and those born in this year can be artistic, sensitive, shy, practical, family oriented, home loving people. Sheep “may occasionally suffer from “hoof-in-mouth disease” by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time”!
What’s the weather like where you are? Does it affect your mood? What’s your favourite time of year? I never thought mine was summer…but it’s definitely not winter either! Also, do you love or hate long train trips? Or somewhere in between?