On Saturday afternoon, I took the Nanjing subway. Cheap, clean and chaotic, it was a memorable experience. When the train arrived, I was in a scrum of people trying to board. There was no ‘after you’. We had to force our way through the people trying to get off. It was a fierce contest. Only half of us, the
ruder braver ones, made it.
After scrambling off the metro, I went into a small diner. I wanted to try ducks blood, a Nanjing delicacy. Sitting on a plastic chair, I pointed at the chinese characters for duck and blood on the menu. The owner looked me over and frowned. He then pointed at a beef dish. Ignoring him, I tapped my finger on the ideograms again.
The owner, keeping up a one-way dialogue with me, gestured at the beef with potato symbols. This was cruelly tempting, but I persisted with the local option, and in the end, he relented. It was worth it. The ducks blood, thin brown tofu-like slabs served floating in a spicy vegetable broth, was delicious.
After lunch, I went to the Confucius Temple. Confucius was a wise man who lived 2,500 years ago. He thought being nice to your parents was very important. That’s the sum of my knowledge of Confucius, and I got none of that from visiting his crowded temple in south Nanjing.
Blow-up illuminated representations of ancient China attracted most of the attention. Eating shiny red balls off a bamboo stick also seemed quite popular.
Just before leaving the temple, I tried the red things. They were toffee strawberries, and they were fantastic. I felt inspired. To think of all the possible fruit we could add toffee to, and we just toffee an apple. Such a wasted opportunity, it makes me so angry.