Monday, July 7, 2014

"Leave no man behind!" or Sampling Nanjing Nightlife at 1912

My fellow teachers and I were meeting our hosts at the Hua Dong Hotel in Nanjing and were to be treated to a day of sightseeing. Our hosts try to make this a very full day for all of us but after visiting the City Wall of Nanjing, climbing the stairs at the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, eating a large lunch, and then visiting the first museum only to realize we still had another museum, the Confucius Temple district and dinner to look forward to, a group of us decided to try and make an unobtrusive departure from the tour and head back to our hotel. In our defence, it had rained all morning and we were soaked through despite shelling our 15 RMB for some very attractive rain gear....not.
Climbing the stairs at Sun Yat Temple in my fancy rain gear.

Leaving was not an easy task, as our guide was very stringent about keeping track of everyone and had several helpers along to round up the strays. We told the main guide we were leaving and headed for the gate. We were stopped several times as helpers tried to herd us back on to the bus but we quickly headed down the street. I'm sure we caused our hosts much anxiety as we made our escape, as they are really very concerned that we see all of the "places of interest" and are suitably fed, but we were all quite tired and just wanted to sleep.
Waving a taxi down in Nanjing proved a bit difficult. The taxis have green lights or red lights on the roof but we couldn't actually figure out what the lighting system meant. It didn't seem to matter as every taxi, green or red, rudely ignored our frantically waving hands and refused to stop. We weren't sure if this was because we were such a large group or because we were white....we couldn't change our skin colour but we could make our group smaller. At the next intersection, we split up into two groups and as one unlucky taxi stopped to let his passengers out, Andrea and I quickly jumped in. The driver looked very angry as I showed him my phone with the name of our hotel. I was desperately trying to distract him as my five fellow escapees tried to jam themselves into the back seat. The many people standing on that corner probably now think white foriegners are ridiculous people who don't realize that there is a physical limit as to how many people can fit into the backseat of a Kia. As the smallest member of our group, Haley, tried to prostrate herself across the laps of the other four, the driver realized what was happening and began yelling...didn't need a translator for this...With a total lack of team spirit and abandoning the motto, "Leave no man behind!" Andrea, Honorata, and myself waved through the back window of our taxi to our mates who were left on the sidewalk with one of the helper people convincing them to get back on the bus and resume the tour...still not sure how he tracked us down!
Happily, all of our group did make it back to the hotel and a few hours later, well rested, our little group of six headed off to 1912 to sample a bit of Nanjing nightlife. 1912 is the "happening" spot in Nanjing and is frequented by both expats and trendy, young locals. The area opened in 2004 and took its name from the year Dr. Sun Yat Sen overthrew the Qing Dynasty and established the Republic of China with Nanjing as its capital. 1912 is now located next to the headquarters of the Chinese Nationalist Party. Since we had visited the Memorial for Dr. Sun Yat Sen earlier in the day, it was only fair to check out the nightlife area dedicated to the event!
Tube of beer with snacks for 300RMB
We started out at the Blue Marlin, a chain bar/restaurant, where we shared a very large tube of beer and some complimentary chips and chicken popcorn. We were also given a free shot of tequila by the manager...I assume to lure us inside. The bar has two floors with the obligatory Philippino singers downstairs and a louder group upstairs playing music meant to inspire dancing. The area for dancing actually has a pole...hmm... Drinks are reasonably priced at 35 to 40 yuan. Beer is easy to order but I don't like to be easy and after eyeing up the temtping variety of spirits available behind the bar, decided to order a Canadian Club with ice and water. I did get the CC but the fellow brought it with a tall glass of hot water. The Chinese drink hot water constantly so this would have made sense to the server but I handed the hot water back and said, "Cold water, please."
1912, Nanjing
When he replied, "Evian?" I thought we were all good since this is a brand of water, but he brought a tiny bottle of water and then gave me the bill. He wanted 80 Yuan, 40 for the whiskey and 40 for the water. Being the thrifty person I am, I handed back the water and drank the whiskey neat!
We spent a fantastic evening travelling from bar to bar, sampling drinks, dancing, meeting people and just enjoying the great atmosphere. I would provide more detail and put in a plug for the many other bars we visited that night but unfortunately the effects of the whiskey have left just a foggy memory of an amazing time but few details!

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