Our last day in China. Journey to Nanjing.
(The Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, our goal for the day.)
Jason had been on the train for work, and he decided we could handle the train by ourselves. I was less sure, primarily because I worried about how we would ensure we made it from the destination train station, to some tourist site, and back to the train station since no one would speak English. But after a brief few moments of panic, I agreed we should go but I left making arrangements to make the travel possible to my husband.
I had read, an another American my husband had chatted with, had suggested if we ventured out for a day that we should head to Nanjing. Our concierge wrote two sentences in Chinese on a piece of paper. "I need to go Ming Xialong." and "I need to go to Nanjing Train."
(We realized later that these sentences had been written with a sharpie like pen, not terribly conducive to a day outside in the rain, but we managed to protect them from getting wet - so spoiler alert - all ends well.)
The train station was like any train station. I had been worried about how we would ensure we got on the correct train, since they had departure times just like an airplane. This just goes to show how little experience I have with trains, I had imagined a subway like system with trains every couple of minutes, so until we got there I couldn't imagine how we would get it right. Turns out they have a fabulous system. There is a big waiting area, inside. On a big board are the upcoming trains, and your train # is red (for don't get out of your chair), yellow (almost time to walk to your platform), and green (get up, now you can walk to your platform). And you insert your ticket into a turnstile that verifies you are indeed allowed out on the tracks.
Oh, except for the potties. First off, that is where everybody goes to smoke, so it really stunk. Then this was my first encounter with a true Chinese potty. It did not go well. (You can Google Chinese potties, I did not desire to preserve that memory, so no photo, sorry.)
These were our lovely seats. Notice the speed posted on the sign - 300 km/hr. We were moving.
So we made it all the way to the top after probably 30 minutes of climbing. We go inside and low and behold... A gift shop. I am so not joking. It was so strange. There was one large room, all open. There were story boards with more information about the mausoleum, but the story boards ran along the outside of the room with gift shop type items in the middle.
We were truly baffled. That was it? So we saw some more stairs, leading further up. Maybe there was more? (Nope. But we climbed another 15 minutes or so, sweated a ton more, and made it to the top of the mountain. There were so many trees that we couldn't get a good picture that showed we made it to the top, but we did. My husband did get a nice shot of me during the final climb - I kind of fell behind.)
The man's history involved some sort of battle.
(But my favorite part of the museum was this wild, copper face on the front desk).
More neat buildings and some awesomely huge concrete animal sculptures ended our day.