Shopping Nanjing - A Little Rebellion
What a difference a day makes. Amanda woke up in a brilliant mood.
Our quite and sick baby is now vocal and active. We went
shopping in downtown Nanjing. Our bus pulled up to a hotel near the city
center and the department stores were pointed out to us. "Be back
in one hour", we were told. Ginger, realizing the shopping to be
done, bolted off the bus to get started. We went to the first store,
it was like a Macy's right down to the cosmetic girls. The next store
was more of a family department store. We wandered the store looking
at the merchandise that was available. Sales help was all around
and every time Ginger would finger something, they would be right there,
offering to help. We found the ladies coat department, and we were
starting to draw a fairly large crowd. I pointed to a coat, then
pointed to Amanda, the clerks gestured that the children's coats were upstairs.
We made our way up to the children's department and bought several outfits
and a snowsuit. It was a lot colder than we had anticipated and even our
guides were dismayed by the light clothing that we Americans were dressing
the children in.
We made our way back to the bus, but the rest of the group was not there.
They had decided not to strike out alone, and were shopping as a pack.
We went into the lobby of the hotel, bought some almond cookies, some pop
and struck up a conversation with a British man, that was living in Switzerland.
He was in China for several months on business and admired Amanda,
missing his own 16 month old boy. Eventually, our group made it back to
the bus. We then went to lunch at a pizza restaurant. Although I love Chinese
food, at this point, pizza tasted very good.
After lunch we boarded the bus and started back to the hotel.
As our guides explained the plans for the next couple of days, the crowd
started to get a little restless. Our guides were telling us that
we were going to stay in Nanjing until Sunday. The itinerary that
we had from our agency said that we were going to Guangzhou on Friday.
Our appointment for the visa interview was on Monday and we were very concerned
that poor weather might fog in Nanjing again. The guides were firm
that the itinerary they had would be followed. They went over the
sightseeing schedule and described the Dr. Sun Yet Sen Mausoleum (398 steps)
and the Yangzi bridge that we would see the next day. The crowd on
the bus now was very unhappy. Unfortunately, some things were said
about the sight seeing that would have been better left unspoken. Back
at the hotel, Ginger called the consulate. If we missed the appointment
on Monday, December 22nd, the next available appointments were for December
30th. Although the consulate said they would help us if they could,
they were very busy, at half staff and going into the holidays. Many people
also wanted to start the sight seeing at 9:30 AM rather than 8:00 AM. Seems
that most of us were having problems getting up early enough to feed the
babies, eat breakfast, redress the babies and make it to the bus on time.
Later in the afternoon, our guides ask us to come to their room to discuss
the situation. I showed them the itinerary that we had and explained
the group's feelings about the possibility of missing the flight and what
a hardship that would cause. They told us that they had consulted with
the Beijing office and that the itinerary that they had would not be changed.
I asked that they develop a backup plan just in case Nanjing was fogged
in again. The guides said that anyone wishing to go on their own
could, but they would be totally on their own in arranging the photographs
and the medical exam. They also told us the medical bureau was closed for
remodeling on Saturday so it would make no difference if we arrived in
Guangzhou on Friday or Sunday. They also asked us to poll the group and
ask about the sight seeing that they wanted to do.
Ginger and I went from room to room and talked to each family individually.
I presented the facts as objectively as I could. Yes, it was cutting it
close by leaving Sunday, but going alone also had large risks, and perhaps
costs. In talking with our group, I estimated that the flight to Guangzhou
and the stay at the White Swan for an extra couple of nights might cost
perhaps $500. Most of the families were willing to pay that to make sure
we didn't miss the appointment. A few were willing to pay that, but they
would have to be able to charge those expenses. Eight of the nine
families agreed that they wanted to stay with the group and would do what
the group did. Some of the families decided to contact our agency
in the United States to plead our case.
We also talked about the sightseeing. I made it a point to describe
how we as a group appeared from the Chinese perspective. Yes, the
Dr. Sun Yet Sen Mausoleum has a lot of steps, but it is very important
monument for the Chinese. Would we appreciate the Chinese acting this way
toward our Lincoln Memorial? The bridge which we were to see is not
only a bridge across the Yangzi river, it also has a large political meaning
to the Chinese. Our ignorance of Chinese history was showing. Another problem
is that the tourist attractions in China do not have very good information
about why they are special. At the Great Wall, there was no information
about when that section was built, when it was refurbished, how it was
built, what was the purpose of the wall. The bridge that we would
see marked the end of the Chinese reliance on the Soviet Union for technical
support. Those in our group that had studied China and had read their guide
books had a much greater appreciation (and better questions for the guides)
than those that didn't.
We reported back to our guides that all the families wanted to get to
Guangzhou before Sunday. Our guides asked "Even you?" and I replied,
yes, even me. That seemed to be a surprise to them. I told them that 8
of the 9 families were going to stay together with them, even if we didn't
leave before Sunday. The other family was not sure yet what they
were going to do. I asked them to keep an eye on the weather and to please
consider a back up plan. I told them that the bridge, Ming Tombs, and the
mausoleum were fine for sightseeing, and that a couple of people had expressed
interest in the Nanjing Massacre Memorial. This is the Memorial to
the three hundred thousand local people that lost their lives during the
Japanese occupation during World War Two. The local guide called it the
Nanjing Slaughter, it is known in the history books as the Rape of Nanking.
Strangely, this memorial is not shown in a picture book that I purchased
of Nanjing, or a pack of post cards. It is also not marked on some of the
tourist maps. Information on the Memorial can be found at: http://www.cnd.org:8015/mirror/nanjing/
I was now sure that being group leader should be a paid position.
On the other hand, Amanda was doing well. Her cold was getting better.
She was at ease with Ginger, but still would not let me hold her or change
her diaper. I helped by preparing all the bottles, feeding her, and
carrying everything. At dinner that night, the couple from Arizona
treated us to dinner. We tried to order the eel with pig's knuckles, but
the waiter informed us that we really wanted the sautéed eel. Assuming
that he knew something about the pig's knuckles that we didn't, we did
not argue. The eel was quite good, and Amanda liked it, as did Emma, the
little girl of our companions.