8 Things You Should Know About Nanjing

How many of us know Nanjing? There is no direct flight from AirAsia to Nanjing at this moment which might make this place less known to us, Malaysian.  Nanjing is the main city of Jiangsu province and what is more than that? Here are some fun facts about Nanjing that you should know.

1) Nanjing is more famously connected with the Nanking Massacre

Nanking Massacre cut deep inside the people of Nanjing up until today. It was an event of mass murder and mass rape committed by Japanese troops against the residents of Nanjing (Nanking), then the capital of the Republic of China, during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Memorial of the Nanking Massacre is built solely to remember the 300,000 lives died in this horror incident. You can enter the memorial for free but you are forbidden to take any photos.

2) Confucianism is a religion 

For your information, this is not the only Confucius Temple. It is not the biggest and it is not the oldest. What you may not know Confucian is a religion. It is not same with Buddhism or Taoism (for some who don't know, Taoism is a religion too). So there are Confucius Temples throughout China teaching Confucianism. The biggest and oldest Confucius Temple is at Qufu, Shandong. It was his birth place.
There are Confucius Temple in other countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and even Malaysia. In Malaysia, the temple is built within a primary school which is known as Chung Hwa Confucian School which is located at Penang.
Confucius is a Chinese philosopher who was born in 551 BC. Yes, it was 2568 years ago. The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. There are a lot of quotes by him and pick some of my favourites which are "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others." and "How about 'reciprocity'! Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself." Confucianism is always relate to humanism. In another word, his teachings is about how to be a human.
There are several fun facts about Confucius. One of them is, Confucius's father, Kong He wanted a son so much after his first wife only managed to get him daughters. By that time he wanted to marry a second wife, he had already have 9 daughters. His second wife did managed to give birth a boy but the baby boy was not healthy. So he married the third wife, Yan Zhengzai which was just 18 years old while he was 72 years old. Yan Zhengzai finally managed to give him a boy who was later the famous Confucius. Kong He was not able to see his success because he was passed away when Confucius was just 3 years old. That is why up until today, Chinese parents would want a baby boy or a grandson so much.
Believe it or not, the Confucius lineal descendant has already reach the number 80th. He was born in 2006 and now he is 11 years old. Most of Confucius descendants are living at Qufu, Shandong. You can know more about Confucius by visiting the temple. They have two languages which are English and Chinese to explain to you about his story. The entrance fee is CNY30/pax.

3) China Imperial Examination Museum is a place to know the culprit behind creating examination as you all known of today.

Imperial examination has been created since Han Dynasty (206BC - 220AD) but halted during the Three Kingdoms through Sui Dynasty. During mid-Tang Dynasty, the examination system became widely utilized until year 1905. The Chinese imperial examinations were a civil service examination system in Imperial China to select candidates for the state bureaucracy.
Critics charged that the system stifled creativity and created officials who dared not defy authority, yet the system also continued to promote cultural unity. Wealthy families, especially merchants, could opt into the system by educating their sons or purchasing degrees. In the 19th century, critics blamed the imperial system, and in the process its examinations, for China's lack of technical knowledge and its defeat by foreign powers.

The influence of the Chinese examination system spread to neighboring Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Korea, Japan (though briefly) and Ryūkyū. The Chinese examination system was introduced to the Western world in reports by European missionaries and diplomats, and encouraged the British East India Company to use a similar method to select employees. Following the initial success in that company, the British government adopted a similar testing system for screening civil servants in 1855. Other European nations, such as France and Germany, followed suit. Modeled after these previous adaptations, the U.S established its own testing program for certain government jobs after 1883.
This museum is a good place for kids, students and scholars to understand how important it is to take an examination during that time. To get a good position in the bureaucracy determined the future life of the family and generation to come until the end of a dynasty.
There are a lot of samples of answered examination papers that are displayed in the museum. This is one of the sample which is more than 3 meters long. At that time, scholars had to sleep, cook, eat, poo and pee at their isolated examination room. It took them 24 - 72 hours to complete an examination. Not everyone is allowed to take the examination. Common restriction applied to women, entertainers, beggars, butchers, boat-people and sorcerer. 

These are samples of note that are smuggled into Imperial Examinations during Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1912). Usually the penalty is death if someone has been caught cheating. That's how tough and how strict a Chinese Imperial Examination is. The entrance fee is CNY25/pax.

4) Qin Huai River cruise, scenery all along the river

As one of the branch of Yangtze River, Qinhuai River is the biggest river in Nanjing. With a length of 110 kilometers (about 68 miles), the river is divided into two from the Tongji Gate. One that flows into the Nanjing City is called the inner river. The other that flows along the east, south and west side of the City Wall of Ming Dynasty is called the outer river and is regarded as the moat of Nanjing City. For thousands of years, Qinhuai River has nurtured the ancient city of Nanjing and honored by many poets. A lot of stories, romantic affairs and historic sites are related to the river, which adds to its charm greatly.

Since the Stone Age, people have always lived on the banks of the Qinhuai River. 50 to 60 original village sites have been found along the river. Among them are Hushu Cultural Site and Xunzishan Site as well as many others. However, due to various wars and battles fought within the area, ancient buildings along the river were destroyed. The River's time of prosperity ceased for a time. However, after a period of restoration in 1985, it became a famous scenic location in Nanjing again. The Confucius Temple at night  Nowadays Qinhuai River and its beautiful scenery form a widely recognized tourist destination. With the Confucian Temple at its centre, this location offers a combination of historical sites, gardens, painted boats, streets and folk customs.

Scenery along the river includes the Bailu Zhou Garden, Confucius Temple, Zhanyuan Garden, Zhonghua Gate and characteristic boats on the Qinhuai River from the section of Taoyedu to Zhenhuai Bridge. Among them, the painted boat from which lanterns hang is the most charming and attractive that adds a festive feeling to the river in the evening. The Confucius Temple, which has become the representative of culture of South of the Yangtze River, is usually crowded with people in the evening. Wine shops, tea houses, snack stalls and handicraft works hawked along the street form the unique scenery of the Temple. Jiangnan Examination Office, which is not far from the Temple, offers visitors the chance to see the place where scholars took their examinations back in the days of feudal Chinese society.

There are different point of boarding the cruise. The most popular one will be at the Panchi Wharf in front of Dacheng Hall of the Confucius Temple. The route is slightly different between day and night but the price is the one that differentiate the day and night the most. The day route cost at CNY55/pax while night route cost at CNY80/pax. It is definitely without say, night route is the best experience by far. I highly recommended the night route which starts at 6.00pm but the queue for it started to build up at 5.00pm. It is quite ridiculous especially it got more than 100m long by the time the counter is opened. You cannot buy the ticket in advanced. The moment you have purchased the ticket, you have to board the boat. The duration is 50 minutes journey.

The other pick up point is at Stone City Wharf. There are two routes too where it will take you to different places. The cost is at CNY 100 for 1 hour journey and CNY150 for 90 minutes journey. All offer different kinds of experience. If you have extra penny to spend, do experience all the routes.

5) There is God/Deity of Examination

Yes, I mean there is. I never know it until now. So your examination is near, you know who you should pray for. It is known as Kuixing-Test God.

You will never know how it will help you in the exam especially you are the same type of person like me who burns midnight-oil during the last few days before the exam.

6) Get your own personalized scholar seal

Getting your very own Imperial seal is cool but it may cost a lot of money. Just get a scholar seal which starts from CNY50. 
You can choose different kind of jade and he will do the rest. Please take note that, you need to have patient to wait for it to be done. It takes 15-30 minutes for one seal to be done depending the size of the jade.

7) Witness the real Usnisa at Niushou Mountain 

śarīras (relics) refer to left bones and pearl-shaped stuff from cremation after nirvana of Sakyamuni Buddha and other Buddhism masters. The only one Usnisa in the world reappeared to the public in Nanjing on June 12th, 2010. Usnisa is the symbol of wisdom and compassion. Worshipping of Usnisa is just like worshipping of Buddha. This is Buddhism.

Niushou Mountain is located in Jiangning District of Nanjing. The mountain twin peaks look like ox horns, hence the name. 1700 years ago, the first founder of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, emperor Yuandi, wanted to set up two magnificent gate towers to symbolize imperial power. However, Prime Minister, Wang Dao, considered it inappropriate to do so. One day, when they looked afar at the east and west peak of Niushou Mountain, the Minister suggested that the two peaks were the most suitable heavenly-made gate towers. Hence, the name  Tianque Mountain.

The core of scenic area construction is as follows: fixing the heavenly peaks, meaning restoring mountain massif and recovering twin peaks; building underground palace, meaning making use of the natural pit to build Usnisa Palace for enshrining Usnisa; renovating the sacred road, meaning expanding original tunnel for exhibiting Sakyamuni’s life story and understanding the way to become Buddha; revealing twin pagodas, meaning constructing Usnisa Pagoda and reproducing the grand pattern of twin pagodas; spreading five levels of Chan(Zen Buddhism) and understanding the atmosphere of Chan in rivers and mountains.

The beautiful scenery of Niushou Mountain in spring has been widely known.  With profound culture, it is the location for battle against Jin Wuzhu led by Yuefei and tomb of Zheng He. With abundant Buddhism culture, Niutou Sect of Chinese Zen Buddhism is cultivated and developed here.

Niushou Mountain is located in subtropical monsoon humid area and  belongs to hilly region. Made of  igneous rock, it has rich topography and vegetation, therefore, it rains frequently. The spring rain from April to May presents mist view. The summer rain from June to July makes the plants flourish. The autumn rain from September to October enriches the Buddhism atmosphere here in Niushou Mountain.
Spring Theme: This 200-meter long section is planted with sakura trees, symbolizing spring. The flowering period of sakura lasts only seven days, which stands for the transitory nature of life, reminding us to cherish life and practice Buddhism to get enlightenment.
Summer Theme: This section with bamboo forest stands for summer. Hollow bamboo with nothing inside symbolizes emptiness in Buddhism. In Niutou Chan, green bamboo is regarded as the embodiment of Buddhist truth.

Autumn Theme: This section with fruit trees stands for autumn. In Buddhism, you reap what you sow. If you want to accumulate merits, you have to have a kind heart, say nice words and do good deeds.
Winter Theme: The end of the road stands for winter with cedar and winter sweet. In Buddhism, the appreciation of cedar and winter sweet helps to comprehend Buddha dharma.

The price is CNY98/pax. You may need at least half a day to explore completely all the attractions on this mountain. Anyway, here is the sneak peak inside the temple.

8) Souvenirs are nice to see but too costly to own

These are natural rocks. Not hand drawn rocks. It of this natural rocks cost CNY700++ and for bigger size can cost up to CNY3000++. Yes, they are just rocks.
Their souvenirs here are very attractive, beautiful and creative. You would love to bring of them back home. However, the price is really makes you wonder if they really worth that much.
Such as this creative bottled sand glass design can cost up to CNY200++/bottle. It may looks really hard to make one but I really not sure if I willing to fork out the money for it just to bring back home to collect dust.
This price is CNY3800 as stated. Glass made hand drawn art on a wooden panel which is included. It is really beautiful but the price tag is going to scare you off. It is still worth to consider if the price is 10x lesser.
I was captivated by this elegant vase just like you are too. But the price is too scary for me to even hold it.
They even selling a Buddha sculpture in crystal. I just do not know how long they are going to sell it because the price is in 6 digits!!! 
I really do understand the Chinese are very rich now. So spending something like this is never a big issue. However, some tourists from lower currency country like Malaysia really got freak out by this price tag of CNY29,800.00.

Overall, Nanjing is a cultural city which you shouldn't missed. I will definitely be back to discover more about this amazing city.

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