Now was the time of our last week in Hangzhou before we would go back to Singapore and now that we were done with all our projects we were free to do whatever we wanted with our free time. What to do with all this free time? Travel, of course! At first, we wanted to go to Beijing to visit the great wall and the forbidden city and all that but to our horror the trip would cost us over a 1000 yuan just on the transport there and back. Deterred by the cost, we decided to look closer to home base. After some quick discussion, we decided to go to Nanjing for a day trip which was significantly cheaper.
Soon it was time for the Nanjing trip and after a pretty short 1.5-hour train ride we had arrived at Nanjing from Hangzhou. After settling our accommodations, we went to a museum dedicated to the Nanjing Massacre. I had heard about this event in my history lessons and knew about it briefly and this museum was truly an eye-opening experience. As we walked into the first section of the museum I realized that it was dimly lit, and the walls were all painted in black and I did not understand the significance of this design choice at first glance. As I walked about the museum and looked at the various photographs, artifacts, videos and captions, I slowly began to understand their design choice. Each of the visual mediums presented one message and it was that the Japanese were ruthless in their capture of Nanjing. The atrocities they had committed were numerous from the mass killings of combatants and civilians after and before the capture of Nanjing numbering in the hundreds of thousands, the comfort women, disrespect of the most basic of human decency and many more. These actions and attitudes are completely different from the Japan of today where their humble and courteousness nature are a stand out of their culture. It really caused me to wonder, how did a seemingly barbaric country turn into the modern Japan that we see today.
As the museum transition to the end of World war 2, the tone completely changed the rooms were now brightly lit and painted white and I soon realized why. The pictures and caption now talked about the best in humanity where people both foreign and local to Nanjing helped the people suffering from the Japanese occupation. These people did whatever they could to help the people in need weather it was providing medical aid, sheltering refugees or protecting them from the Japanese attacks. These people knew the consequences of providing aid but still did it regardless and that takes a lot of courage and strength.
After the museum and a quick lunch, we went over to Fuzi temple where many of Confucius students studied and lived. As we entered the temple area, we were surprised to see so many shops selling food, drinks and souvenirs. Although the architecture of the buildings resembled the buildings of old the shops most certainly did not, it was not until we got further into the temple area where we found the “real” entrance where we had to pay to get in. The temple area housed many artifacts and history about the area and had a place for people to pray as well. After we had seen all we wanted it was now time for dinner and so night sightseeing.
We took a short walk from our hotel we had reached the shopping district. The place really resembled Orchard Road in Singapore with its many large luxurious malls all concentrated in one area. It really reminded me of home as I saw many familiar brands and architecture. It was quite surreal, and I would definitely come back if given the chance.
It was now our last day in Nanjing and being a sporty and outdoors group of people, we decided to go for one last hike in China. We wanted to have a proper hike up the mountain, but time and the insanely hot weather just killed all our enthusiasm, so we took a cable car ride up. The ride up was quite relaxing however as always, our bad luck got the better of us and the supposed scenic mountain view was somewhat obscured by the fog/haze. As we had a train the catch, we got a quick lunch at the top of the mountain at no less a KFC before blasting our way down the mountain trail.
Once we had reached the bottom, we realized we had underestimated our speed and now had too much time before our train back to Hangzhou. In light of this we slowly made our way to the train station for our last high-speed train ride in ALP.
Saturday, August 11, 2018, the day had finally came, the day that we were all due to return to Singapore. As I left for the airport, it was really a bittersweet feeling. I would leaving the life I had become accustomed to, the food, the culture, the relationships and the lifestyle. However, I would taking away back to Singapore everything I had learnt, the new relationships and experiences. All good must come to an end and today was the day, I am glad I got to do and experience all the things in China, but it is time to return Home and maybe I will return one day.