Nanjing, the Capital of a Republic

A danger of travel is that we see things at wrong time, before you have the opportunity to build up the necessary receptivity so that new information is as useless and fugitive as necklace beads without a connecting chains. – Alan de Botton

This time, I visited Nanjing during the weekend, and I had some preparation to get the receptivity, and tried to use a connecting chain to guide what to see. The topic will be the government of Republic of China, a historical term in mainland China, and a current term in Taiwan.

I went to the following places:

  • The presidential palace
  • The Executive Yuan
  • The Legislative Yuan
  • The Judicial Yuan
  • The Control Yuan
  • The Exam Yuan

They are scattered into different places across the city, but to follow a path to visit every single one of them makes a great day.

Nanjing is a city with great histories. Many of the memories were painful, just like the feeling of Berlin. It is also moving very fast. I didn’t expect to see a building 450 meters high (due to my ignorance, I didn’t know that). Many years ago, I would say Hangzhou is a much better travel destination than Nanjing, and now I rediscovered the city and claim it to be better to spend a weekend than Hangzhou. Here is why.

  • Nanjing is only 1:40 hour away from Shanghai. Hangzhou is less than 1 hour but the difference is not big.
  • There are 70 G-trains between the two cities everyday, making it more convineint to get there. The fastest train is only 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Nanjing was capital of 6 dynasties, and the recent Republic of China. There are a lot architect and stories there. Hangzhou is a little bit less “historical”
  • Nanjing’s transportation is amazingly good. The two metro lines (one connects at the Railway station!) completely beats Hangzhou. It was nightmare to wait for taxi at Hangzhou railway station.
  • In the recent years, Nanjing suddenly became more modern than Hangzhou, with some very nice shopping malls like Deji Plaza at Xinjiekou.
  • The mountains of Nanjing is more approachable.
  • For many people in Shanghai, Nanjing is obviously a less visited city than Hangzhou, so worth the time.

I will visit Nanjing soon during weekend. A weekend escape in Nanjing is just a very good experience for me – high-speed train, Hanting Hotel, plus Metro tickets are good package for me.

10 thoughts on “Nanjing, the Capital of a Republic

  1. I Love this post;
    There are a total of eight sketches, but you only named six of them. What are other two places?

  2. BTW, by what transportation means did you visited all those places?
    The proportions of your sketches are very accurate. I can easily recognize the buildings in your drawings. During the late 70’s, I attended a mid/High school near the former foreign embassy districts in Nanjing. Every day I walked by the area to go to school and seeing different style of buildings along the way, I have developed deep appreciation of the architectural design in the area. At times I would choose a longer route between school and home so that I could see more buildings. Some of my classmates lived in those buildings. I would try to become their friend so that I could visit their homes and seeing the building layout from inside. I even visited the former American embassy compound.
    Regretfully I was not able to become an architect which would be my 1st career choice. When I had enough money, I designed my own house inside and out and hired a builder built it in Wisconsin where I currently live. This did fulfilled part of my childhood dream. Now I can proudly say I have created something that is real, not just on paper or in my head. I would love to send you a picture of my creation or even invite you to have a visit if you ever been in the area.

  3. Hi ILH, how lucky you are to be exposed to the great architects in Nanjing during that time. I haven’t visited the embassy area yet, since the main line I visited the city is around the government structure – the 5 yuan, and their buildings. The next time, civil architects and embassy buildings, and villas will be the topic. Thanks for your invitation. I am sure your home will be great and reflect some of the nice designs here.

  4. The area is just under one square km and bordered by Xi-Kang Lu on the west, Jiang-Su Lu on the North-East, and Beijing-West Lu on south side. If you can find out who was the original residence of each building, it would be much more interesting for your visit. Just one word of caution of camera usage, many high ranking military offices live in the area.

  5. It is very interesting to see how similar the road names Nanjing and Shanghai have. The roads you mentioned are all Shanghai road names also, and they are connected with each other, and also formed a nice area with villas in Shanghai

  6. Hi Jianshuo,

    Nanjing was the first place I lived in China, and is still my favourite city in the country because it still has a nice, fairly relaxed atmosphere, broad and open streets, and a good amount of history to explore. Before I came to mainland China I lived in Taiwan, so the history of the Republic of China was something I was very interested in, and I second ILH above – architecturally speaking, Nanjing is probably the second most interesting City I’ve been to in China (Shanghai is number one: sorry Beijing). If you want, you can even stay at the Nanjing Hotel, which was where Wang Jingwei (head of Japan’s puppet government) used to live.

    I’m glad you found the transport convenient. When I lived there the metro still hadn’t opened, so I took a taxi everywhere which was often a nightmare – people competing to get in front of each other to catch a ride. The last time I visited there was in 2007, and it seemed almost like a different city because it was so easy to get around.

    I also hope you had the opportunity to have some Nanjing salt-duck and Duck blood soup, whilst Nanjing food is not all that great compared to, say, Chengdu, these two are defintely worth trying. Shizi Qiao has the best restaurants where they are served.

  7. Wow, a Brit is a fan of the Chinese Duck-blood soup. That is interesting say the least.
    Even after 25+ yrs. living in the West, I have not been able to become a fan of the Blue Cheese and raw herring, of which both are concerted as delicacies by the people who live around North Sea.
    I have visited your blog; your posts have lots depth, by far the most meaningful blog site I ever visited. A “Bloody” good job you did.

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