Nov 7 2014

Jiangsu 江苏省

An eastern-central coastal province of China. It’s capital Nanjing/Nanking is 186 miles/300 km northwest of Shanghai. According to wiki – Jiangsu is the second smallest, but the fifth most populous and the most densely populated of the 22 provinces of the People’s Republic of China. Jiangsu has the second highest GDP of Chinese provinces, after Guangdong.

The well known cities are

Sep 4 2011

Shanghai 魅力江南八日游

Nexus Holidays offer a tour that was hard to refuse: 6 nights of 4 stars hotel plus 3 meals a day, all for US$49 per person. Kid under 18 adds additional $200; plus tips for the guide US$48 per person ($8 x 6 days). P.S. This kind of tour becomes a main stay.

I first learned it from my cousin Don in VA which offered it at US$99, then my cousin Sophie in LA told me it’s only US$49. Since I’ve never traveled with my Jiujiu and family so I decided to join them even it’s inconvenient my already booked/planned schedule.

We took the newly minted CRH Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway 京沪高速铁路, departing Beijing South Station at 8am on Friday July 29, arrived in Shanghai safely little before 1pm. It cost ¥550. In the aftermath of the Wenzhou CRH D301 and D3115 train rear-end accident that happened on July 23, we didn’t have any choice. My initially wish was to take the overnight train from Beijing to Shanghai, mainly for Pumpkin to experience it. But since the Beijing-Shanghai express starts running, many overnight trains, on the face of overwhelming complain, was being eliminated. I simply couldn’t get any tickets. Another story, another time.

The tour put us at MingYue 明悦 (上海浦東新區崮山路50 號) in Pudong, departing for the tour the following morning July 30, after breakfast. Over all, the tour is good, hotels were better than the lunches/dinners. Buffet breakfasts were at the hotels, generally ok. We have a baby-sitter tour guide who with the bus driver were with us 24/7; collected our passports at night for hotel check in, etc. At each city, the company would send a local guide who did the selling guiding.

Not sure IF there is talking point enforced by the company but the tour guides all uniformly echoed few themes:
– China, undeniably is doing pretty good, although there are many improvements to be made; please give us a break little time
– 孝顺 filial piety
The guides are well informed and worldly, they never hesitated in telling you that they, too, traveled the world. They can be sarcastic about China; openly talked about their personal experience/lives which made the conversations – even they were the one did the talking mostly – the more enjoyable.
It’s my first time joining a China tour. Few tour mates/cousins told me that this is pretty first class, in comparison to the local tours they experienced in the past. Perhaps Nexus wants to impress 统战 the overseas Chinese. I wasn’t prepare for the shopping element. Before the tour, Sophie said we would not buy anything. Ya right. .. We ended up spent our children’s college tuition. We wrote IOU at the jade store; we borrowed money from the baby sitter at Hangzhou, in order to buy Longjin, the dragon well teas. Heck, we even wrote I owe you for the tips. How charming! I couldn’t believe they, the stores and the tour guide would engage in such risky business!
Those stores we visited were all tour sponsors. However, there were never pressure to buy. It’s us who couldn’t resist.
As we drove back to Shanghai from Hangzhou after lunch (we always traveled to the next city after lunch), the baby sitter guide began telling us more about himself.
He’s the fourth child of a rural family, born in 1980. By the time, one child policy was already pushed to the countryside. So his parents considered to gave him away due to financial constrain but ultimately decided to pay the ¥250 fine, to keep him. He said many kids called him 250 二百五 which in Mandarin slang, means an insult: stupid person or simpleton. He would become the first college educated child of the family. During his college years, to help pay for his tuition, he went to Shenzhen for a summer job, as a shipyard labor. He earned a grand ¥2000+. When he went home, upon seeing him, his mother turned her head slightly to wipe away her tears: he was dark and extremely skinny. He said, he pretended not seeing her cry. He got me teared on this. Mothers.
He just got married a few years ago; they are expecting their first child this October. His father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer shortly after their marriage and purchasing of their apartment. His wife suggested to sell the apartment to help pay for the medical bills. He said he’s extremely moved by her devotion to her parents and loved her all the more. His father-in-law died a year later; left behind a ¥400,000 bill (after the insurance).
At the end of long talk, he gently asked for the tip. I thought it’s part of the package, no asking is needed. However, he said it’s US$60 ($8 x 7.5 days), and can be more or can be less. Hmmmmm… both advertisements in the USA printed $48. In any case, IOU him ¥800 for the two of us – Jiujiu would send the money: ¥2500 for the teas and ¥2400 tip (for the six of them), plus my share of tips from Beijing, a total of ¥5,700.
People in our group are predominately China-born. There were few Chinese from Australia, south east Asia, Taiwan. A black lady with a while husband who’s business partner with one of the Dads on the bus. The tour offers only Mandarin or Cantonese because the tour aims at: interested in China? Then learn the language.

439  438 440

Aug 2 2011

Nanjing 南京

Nanking and Nankin is the capital of Jiangsu province in China.

Nanjing was the capital for few different regiments or reigns over long period of time, but I’ve never heard it’s the jade capital, until we met our tour guide for the Nanjing leg of the travel.

He claimed that his father was one of handful expert in jade in China, and was invited overseas for conferences. He wears a jade pendant that he passed it around, let us see, touch and feel as the bus was in motion.
“There is a saying, 月下看美女,日下看美玉, it’s best to look at beauty under the moon and inspect a jade under the sun.” and he went on to educated us how to determine a nice jade:
1. 种 – clarity
2. 色 – color
3. 工 – cutting, craving skill
Oh, make sure there isn’t have bubble 气泡.

After lunch in Wuxi, we arrived in Nanjing in the early afternoon of Monday Aug 1. We rendezvous with the guide by the city wall, near the 江苏省文物博物馆 Jiangsu Province Culture/history Relic Museum where his Dad once worked, in charge of jade collection (?). We were first drove over to see the pride of China: 南京大桥 Bridge of Nanjing; upper deck for autos and lower deck for trains. It required no foreign experts nor materials. Purely made and built in China, by the Chinese. Now it felt old and crumbling. No matter. it’s the effort that count. After the bridge, we were deposited at the 夫子庙 Confucius Temple, then went to dinner at 向阳鱼港 Sunward Fishery Restaurant. The restaurant has many jade exhibits.
The following day, we were taken to the jade store first thing in the morning. Many heads of state visited and bought from here, we were told. Their business card reads:
南京旅游国际购物中心 – Nanjing Shopping Center For International Tourist
秦淮区晨光路39号 – located at 39 Chenguang Road, Qinhuai District

I’m not sure if the building has other divisions but we were at the second floor that sells jade. The 12 animal zodiac signs were asking for ¥2,000 but a tour mate bargained it down to ¥200. So scores of mates bought. Why not, it’s effortless.
There is a private room with more substantial goods, selling upward ¥500k and more.
My cousins, sisters Sophie and Zhen, each bought a oval shaped bracelet because the jadeite are from the same stone. The listing price is ¥20,000. They bargained down to ¥5,000. When cashier told them their credit card or debt card only had ¥3,000, the store drawn up this IOU: the remaining ¥7,000 would deposit into their bank account upon their return to Beijing, no later than August 14. The baby sitter tour guide would be the guarantor – my Uncle did not sign the IOU. My two cousins happily left the store with the jadeite bracelet.

After showing me some very gorgeous pieces in the private room, we settled on this one. The negotiation began, from listing price ¥50,400 to ¥13,000. I made a final offer of ¥12,800 … and they took it. When I begin paying, did I realize the mistake that I left home without the Amex. (Long story, well .. a short one: because I’m lazy. Carrying an extra credit card needs an effort. That’s how lazy I’m ! Sometimes I don’t even understand myself .. ). Thank lord Pumpkin has hers. But we didn’t call the bank that they should expecting foreign charges. Aha, worry not. The Nanjing store has seen it many times, they called up my bank in the USA without a blink. Everything was a sail, except there’s $300 limit on her card. I must looked dishonest becasue the store didn’t want to draw up another IOU. By that time, the second floor was empty, almost everyone was back at the bus. The manager said she’ll keep it for me for a month. I actually decided not to buy it on the spot: she didn’t seal it with my signature as what a store in the US would do. This certificate of gem identification (above and the two below) is for the piece.

夫子庙 Confucius Temple

Aug 1 2011

Jiangnan Examination 江南贡院

155 171 170 164 159 158

Aug 1 2011

Fuzimiao Walking Street 夫子庙

The Confucius Temple in Nanjing 南京.

Did I see Sushi?