Thursday, June 6, 2013

Around Nanjing, literally!

MAIS student Natalie Sammarco explores the area surrounding Nanjing:

"Given the rigorous nature of our classes, it’s easy to get caught up in school work in Nanjing. Many times weeks go by and then one realizes just how much time she* has spent indoors, not venturing out to get to know Nanjing. I will tell you about two of the more out-of-the-way places that are worth a visit or two when you come to this city!

Ox-head Mountain (牛首山
- níushǒushān) - This is a scenic area located to the south of Nanjing, about 45 minutes car ride away. I went there with one of my friends and her Chinese roommate. The Chinese student’s family picked us up in their family’s car and drove us through the city and through mountains to the scenic area.

It was quite pretty to see the scenery on a nice day. Being in the heart of the city so much, surrounded by concrete and high-rise buildings, one forgets that Nanjing actually has lush greenery all around it. In fact, Nanjing is known for being one of the more green cities in China. In this regard, ‘green’ means having trees, bushes, parks, and the like, not ‘green’ as in sustainable growth. It is true, though. Nanjing has large, sweeping, tree-lined streets that are a wonderful change from other cities; not to mention, it has a huge mountain, lake and park, a protected historical site, smack-dab in the center of the city. I’m getting off topic, though...Back to Ox-head!

Ox-head Mountain was filled with little white structures that were built in the style of ancient Chinese architecture, with eaved roofs and fine, blue detailing. The buildings held restaurants and shops and the entire area had a walkway that weaved in an out of the many small ponds surrounding the site. We stayed for the entire afternoon, eating traditional food and playing card games with my Chinese friend’s family and cousins. It was a great day trip and should be planned for a nice, sunny day.

The second place I’d like to talk about is the Tangshan Hot Springs. It is located in eastern Nanjing, quite a bit away but the city is building a subway line right to its door! (Hopefully, that will be done before I graduate). Three friends and I spent an entire day at this modestly priced resort that boasts no fewer than 50 hot spring pools. It was very, very relaxing, despite the fact that we were the only international people in the place and stared at quite a bit. We ended up spending much of the day in the mud-bath part of the resort, which isn’t included in the regular price of the resort but very affordable. Afterward, we all took showers and headed back to the Center. We were all so exhausted from being in the pools all day and felt extremely tingly (hot springs have magical powers, perhaps). Either way, it was a pretty awesome day to have with a couple friends and a nice respite from the Center, all for less than 200 yuan."

*does not relate to anyone in particular, I swear.