Here's about all the Chinese I picked up on the trip: Bei means "north", Nan means "south" and "Jing" means capital. Beijing is the northern (and current) capital. That makes Nanjing the southern (and previous) capital.
We started off the morning at the Massacre Museum. It's free, and worth going to once if you are in Nanjing with nothing better to do. At the entrance, they take your bottles of water, so get them finished before you go in- you won't be able to find them in the massive bottle collection on your way out. The first area had a Vietnam memorial-style wall with names. Next was some diorama-style displays of what Nanjing would have looked like during the "War of Japanese Aggression." (The displays have mannequins in the style of the NY History Museum, many of which are white/blond.) Most of the rest of the main museum building was text (in good English, although very nationalistic) and photographs with a few artifacts. A lot of the signage was repetitive. There was a nice display with the theme "thank you foreigners for witnessing the atrocities and helping out." In general though, it was Chinese-centric, as can be expected. For example, it referred to the Chinese-led forces that ended the anti-Japanese war (also once referred to as the anti-fascist war, but more commonly known as World War 2). Towards the end of the main building, they had a computer area with books to the ceiling, my guess is so that you can find out more (if you know Chinese) about specific ones of the 300,000 that died during the Nanjing massacre part of the war. What detracted a bit from the museum was that there was a gif shop in the middle and at the end of the building which sold standard junk (bracelets, playing cards, etc) that was completely unrelated to the event. After the main building, there are gardens and statues, but also a pit of bones just lying there for you to see (the bones, not just the pit). I'm guessing that there's nothing culturally odd about having a pit of exposed bones for everybody to stare at, but it was an odd cemetery in my mind.
After the low of the Massacre Museum, we went over to see where my friend worked, which was in a Disney-themed area. Quite the contrast.
For lunch, we had what my friend affectionately called "Muslim noodles." The halal restaurant was fabulous! We got to see the guy kneading the dough, tossing the dough (think real pizzeria, but noodle-style), and pulling the noodles by hand right before he tossed them into the pot to cook for us. The noodles were delicious, although I couldn't finish mine. 1- the plate of food was HUGE. 2- I'm pretty sure I ordered noodles with a touch of cabbage and a thick coating of chili oil. By the end, the grease and the spice were doing me in.
Our next cab driver was particularly adept at swerving in and out of the traffic. The previous cab drivers we'd had all drove reasonably smoothly. This one, however, was jerking around so much that the more-prone-to-motion-sickness member of our party was thankful for drammomine. It was the first time I really missed seat belts. (Nobody in China wears seat belts as far as I can tell. They're not even available in most of the cabs we took.) One other thing I noticed was that everybody is walking in the streets even though there are nice, flat, wide sidewalks. I was told that is because people don't want to get run over by all the vehicles. (Hah! That's not counterintuitive at all.) Actually, there are almost always nice wide bike lanes on the sides of the roads, so I don't get why they're all up on the sidewalks, but I did see plenty of vehicles on sidewalks, so I guess it makes some sense.
Next stop was the Confucius Temple. It wasn't that different from the other one we went to, except that at this one we got to ring a huge bell. It was pretty and there were people praying here too.
Right outside the temple was a large shopping area. Most of it was made up of generic stores that sold shoes, clothing and other goods in the same way you would see stores in a shopping mall in the US. Part of it was the "market" though, where you could bargain for souvenirs. We all bought a ton of stuff for people, negotiating prices down, but not getting deals. I'm not going to accept the first price anybody says, but I'm also not really into getting into an intense bargaining war over 15 cents. One interesting thing I noticed was that a lot of the stalls were selling rocks. Not rocks in anything or carved into something cool, just plain rocks. They all kept them under water as if they'd go bad otherwise. Apparently, it's a good luck thing. Interesting.
After shopping, we went out for dinner at a Nanjingese place at the big mall. The food was "point style." We walked up to a buffet-like display, held up our table number, and pointed at the dishes we wanted. Choices included duck face, taro balls, various stir-fries, steamed buns, whole lobsters, random veggies, soups, asian pears, and much more. We skipped the duck face, but did end up getting a lot of other things, most of which were pretty good, even if overly greasy. One thing on my bucket list is to buy a cool item of clothing off somebody who is wearing it. I tried to buy the sweet name tag off some waiter, but got turned down. Oh well.
We had heard a lot about "KTV" before the trip, and I was told to try it. Since it was at the mall, we went over there next. KTV is karaoke, but not like I'm used to. They give you your own little private room where you and whoever you came with can sing and hang out. Nobody else gets to see/hear you and you don't get to meet anybody new. On the other hand, you get to sing as much as whoever you're with will allow. While you're enjoying your own little party room, you can order food and drinks from a little convenience store that they have. You can walk up to it or they will do your "shopping" for you and bring it right to your room. It was cute.
We finished the day at Jimmy's, an expat bar down some back alley where my friend's friends were all hanging out. Caution: while expat bar does translate to pizza and western toilets, it does not translate to "no smoking."
Nanjing Massacre Museum
Reflecting Pool at Nanjing Massacre Museum
Halal noodle tossing