Savvy travelers know Nanjing as a hidden treasure, offering an array of rich historical and cultural sites for visitors to explore. Located in Jiangsu Province just outside of Shanghai, this city of more than 8 million sits along the Yangtze River, with the majestic Purple Mountain rising in the east. One of China’s four ancient capital cities, Nanjing enjoys a relaxed pace compared to mega-cities like Beijing and is easy to navigate, with modern public transportation and plenty of taxis. Once you’ve enjoyed Nanjing’s cultural traditions and historical attractions, relax and enjoy the remarkable hospitality and incredible food.
Here are a few highlights of the perfect Nanjing travel itinerary.
- Travel back in time
Nanjing is one of China’s most significant cities, having served as the capital of 10 Chinese dynasties and regimes over 1,800 years. Located in the Purple Mountain scenic area, the Xiaoling Tomb of the Ming Dynasty is one of the largest imperial tomb complexes in China and mausoleum of the dynasty’s founding emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang. When approaching the tomb, be sure to see the half-mile long Sacred Path, guarded by four pairs of stone warriors and 12 pairs of mythical creatures. Also constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Nanjing’s City Wall was once one of the longest city walls in the world. More than 15 miles of the wall are still intact, welcoming visitors from around the world. In Nanjing’s walkable downtown area, the Presidential Palace is a massive compound where Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen was declared the first provisional president of the Republic of China in 1912. It later served as headquarters for Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang government (1946-49).
- Revel in the culture
Nanjing Museum is one of the first museums established in China and is still one of the country’s largest. Visitors explore exhibits ranging from ancient civilization through the early days of the Republic. Nanjing is home to distinctive folk arts such as Nanjing Cloud Brocade, one of the most exquisite and sophisticated weaving methods in Chinese history, dating back 1,600 years. At the Cloud Brocade Museum, visitors watch expert craftsmen weave the intricate textiles, incorporating materials such as silk, gold, silver thread and peacock feathers. Visit the Nanjing Folk Museum to see traditional handicrafts such as Chinese puppet shoes, clay figurines and paper cuttings. Visitors can watch handicraft demonstrations or participate in workshops to learn the techniques. Explore the rich Buddhist traditions of China at Nanjing Niushoushan Cultural Park, a centuries-old sacred site that contains an opulent palace built into the side of the mountain.
- Take part in a festival
Plan your visit in February or March, and you may see countless red lanterns lighting up the streets near the Confucius Temple during the Qinhuai International Lantern Festival. Dates are based upon the lunar calendar and change annually. In late February through mid-March, enjoy the Nanjing International Plum Blossom Festival, showcasing 35,000 beautiful plum trees scattered throughout a 250-acre park on Purple Mountain. In June, the Nanjing Dragon Boat Festival hosts dragon boat races, with festivities including traditional food such as zongzi — rice dumplings with nuts, wrapped in bamboo leaves. September and October mark the Hairy Crab Festival, celebrating the peak time to enjoy the delectable crustaceans from nearby Gucheng Lake.
- Enjoy the beauty
The Qinhauai Scenic Area is a must-see, including gardens, historic architecture, shops and the breathtaking Confucius Temple. Take a leisurely boat cruise on the Qinhuai River to admire the sights while you enjoy local snacks and listen to traditional music. Xuanwu Lake Park is a former imperial lake garden showcasing a distinct color for each season: pink cherry blossoms in spring, emerald lotus leaves in summer, golden ginkgoes and red maples in autumn and snow-covered pines in winter.
- Satisfy your cravings
Discover Nanjing’s culinary scene, known for refined dishes that focus on seasonal ingredients while balancing taste and color. Nanjing is famous for its duck, as well as river fish and shrimp. Nanjing salted duck is the city’s signature dish. Other popular choices include Peking duck, pan-fried beef dumplings, pidu noodles, soup buns and sesame pancakes. You’ll never run out of options to try when exploring Nanjing’s exciting, delicious cuisine.
Visiting Nanjing is easier than you can imagine. Nanjing Lukou International Airport is 40 miles from the city center, and nonstop flights are available from several North American gateways. Many visitors travel by bullet train to Nanjing, as it is 3 1/2 hours from Beijing and just 90 minutes from Shanghai. More than 100 hotels offer a variety of options, from budget to luxury accommodations, including international brands like Jumeirah, Fairmont, Shangri-La, Hilton, Sofitel, Renaissance and Westin. Make your trip to China memorable by exploring all it has to offer — through the vibrant, historic city of Nanjing.
Ready to plan your Nanjing experience? Visit gotonanjing.com for more information.
Shivya Nath: A bold solo traveler who is breaking gender stereotypes
In a majorly patriarchal Indian society, Shivya Nath found it in her to be a bold solo traveller. She leads a nomadic lifestyle, travelling across the world with her backpack. Shivya is the author of a best selling book, “The shooting star”, in which she highlights more about her life and experiences travelling. The book is an inspiration to women who are staying at home, craving a free lifestyle, and want to travel the world solo.
In this interview with Modern Diplomacy, Shivya tells us more about her life experiences journeying the world. She tells us what it takes to travel the world as a solo woman and narrates her experiences both bitter and sweet.
You have travelled so much and seen the world so intricately that you might as well be a nomad. The most obvious question – what convinced you to travel the world?
I grew up in a protective Indian family in Dehradun, a valley at the base of the Himalayas, and spent my childhood wondering what lay beyond the mountains I could see from my rooftop. Upon finishing high school, I went to Singapore to study, with big dreams and a big student loan. As luck would have it, I graduated in the middle of the financial recession of 2009, when most companies I wanted to work with had ceased hiring. I landed a job with the Singapore Tourism Board, where my experiments with social media began, and I first began following the journey of travel writers / bloggers around the world. It was impossible to tame my restless cubicle-bound soul, so in 2011, I took a 2 month unpaid sabbatical from work. I went flash-packing across Western Europe with a friend, and volunteer-travelled by myself in the high Himalayas of India. In those two months, I saw, experienced and lived more than I ever had before. Within a week of my return to work, I decided to quit my first and only corporate job with a dream of travelling the world on my own terms.
Your new project, Voices of Rural India is picking up steam and picking accolades for telling the most unlikeliest of stories. How do you envision it forward?
Voices of Rural India is an effort to turn this unprecedented pandemic into an opportunity to create alternate livelihoods by upgrading digital skills in rural India, while also preserving grassroots knowledge that is slowly disappearing. Voices of Rural India is a not-for-profit digital initiative that hopes to revolutionize storytelling, by hosting curated stories by rural storytellers – in written, photo or video format. Unlike most existing online platforms, the stories of rural India are told directly by local storytellers. In the short-term, Voices of Rural India is creating a revenue stream for affected communities through digital journalism. In the long run, it aims to develop digital storytelling skills at the grassroots level, along with becoming a repository of local culture and knowledge, documented in local voices. We are currently working with rural communities in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat, through on-ground community-based tourism organisations like Global Himalayan Expedition, Himalayan Ecotourism, Himalayan Ark, Spiti Ecosphere and Grassroutes Journeys. The initiative is supported by the Digital Empowerment Foundation. We’re eagerly looking forward to a post-Covid world, where we can physically travel to visit the communities we’re virtually working with, conduct digital storytelling workshops, identify local talent and hopefully bridge some of the gaping urban-rural digital divide.
Your favourite place so far? You can give multiple answers of course.
There’s so much to love about so many places! I love my home country India, because despite its challenges, nowhere comes close to the diversity of natural beauty, food and culture it offers. It’s perhaps one of the few places in the world where strangers are the quickest to become friends. Other than that, I feel a deep connection to Guatemala, Bhutan, Georgia and Iran.
Your passion for environmental protection and climate change issues is also noteworthy. What do you think should be the biggest change that can make mankind save itself?
The more I slow travel around the world, the more I unlearn conventional ways of doing things. And that’s exactly what we need on a massive scale – politically, economically and individually.
We need to unlearn our reliance on fossil fuels, the issues based on which we elect our leaders, the way we treat some animals as friends and others as food (speciesism), the way we measure development and so on.
A deep unlearning will (hopefully) allow us to re-establish a world driven by mindfulness and compassion, rather than money.
Your book ‘A Shooting Star’ is a bestseller. Along with the travelogue, it is also about a spiritual journey one undertakes. Do you thus agree with the phrase that humans can better understand oneself and another with more communication and a better experience of diversity?
The Shooting Star charts my battles and adventures from the cubicle to the road, and from small-town India to remote corners of the globe. I write candidly about my struggles of transitioning from an average Indian girl to a free soul, who wanted to live on her own terms, explore the world meaningfully and smash stereotypes along the way. I write about my relationships, battles, triumphs and life-changing encounters, and how I tried to conquer my deepest fears.
There’s no doubt that travelling is as much an inner journey as a physical one.
Tell us about a time when you were travelling alone and felt challenged?
After traveling safely and adventurously through some of Central America’s more notorious countries (like Honduras, labelled ‘the most violent place on earth’), I had pretty much let my guard down in Costa Rica. On a hurriedly hailed cab ride to the airport to impulsively catch a flight to the Pacific Coast, the cabbie and I chatted like long lost friends. Closer to the airport, he told me we’d get stuck in traffic so it’s better to drop off a street before and walk; I agreed without thinking twice. When we arrived, I paid him and got off the cab, only to see him grabbing my small bag – the one with my passport, laptop and everything precious – asking for more money or he’d take off with it. I had the equivalent of 50$ in my pocket and gave it to him, shivering at the idea of being left alone without my valuables. In retrospect, there were a lot of hints I didn’t catch; he asked me if I had family in the country, or if I had a local SIM card – pointed questions that should have made me wary. I felt shaken up for days, refused to trust anyone else I met along the way, and found solace in places crowded with other tourists, much unlike my usual travel style. It really wasn’t about the money I lost, but the trust I lost, and it took me months to rebuild it.
What has been your biggest achievement till date? The most satisfying moment in your career?
There have been many satisfying moments on this journey: Publishing my first book and seeing it become a national bestseller in just over a month of release; recognition, awards and international features for my work to promote responsible, immersive travel; launching a clothing collection inspired by The Shooting Star that raises funds to grow forests in my home state Uttarakhand; and most recently, co-founding Voices of Rural India to challenge the way digital storytelling is typically done in India. But I think I feel the deepest satisfaction when a reader reaches out to me to share how my work has played a role in inspiring them to make different life or travel choices.
Travelling, that too alone is still considered a taboo for women in large parts of India. What do you think will change that?
As more of us choose to travel solo and share our stories online or offline, change is bound to happen. While female solo travellers are still considered an anomaly in some parts of India and the world, there’s a lot more chatter, acceptance and encouragement online now.
Neatly tucked away on the sparkling Turkish Riviera, the utterly luxurious Dalyan Resort is a dreamy coastal cocoon that one never wishes to leave. Once a sleepy fishing village, the seaside town of Dalyanon Turkey’s glittering coastline has, in recent years, become something of a playground for the jet-setters seeking respite from city life and her pernicious tendencies. The unique medley of beautiful red bricked cottages and ancient ruins run into an alluring elegance.
With its status as a burgeoning tourist hotspot there has been a slew of luxury hotels and resorts, all jostling for the patronage of beautifully bronzed, well-heeled holidaymakers. Establishing itself as one of the area’s most comforting boltholes, Dalyan Hotels run by the utterly charming, Yucel Okutur and his wife, Fulia. The seaside property promises a blend of style, serenity and comfort. Oh and how well it delivers. The magnificence is made clear from the very second one steps into the resort’s cosy lobby. A sweeping look from the sleek marble-panelled arrival deck across the sea and towards the property’s pristine private deck begs no question as to why this corner of the world is a secret so well kept. One cannot help but saunter around corners past slivers of glittering sea interspersed with bursts of pink oleander. A private sun-drenched armchair from which can embrace the nature enjoy the nourishment whilst flipping through the fables of Marco Polo, an apt companion an inspiration for and of travels.
The clever integration of spaces indoor and outdoor extends throughout the property inspiring a sense of oneness with nature. The classic yet contemporary interiors are best illustrated in the spa. Gazing at the marbled paintings, one reminds one of the four seasons, much like Vivaldi. The use of light, domes, marble tiling, high ceilings and open plan spaces generates a refreshing airiness and palatial spaciousness- a very special Turkish delight. Locally crafted fabrics, furniture and art are tastefully displayed alongside modern décor. No stuffiness or over-the-top excessiveness provides a veritable feeling of ease and comfort abounds, giving the sense that these are spaces designed to be lived in and moved through.
Moreover, travel brings out the best in men like myself who get dressed every evening feeling a bit like Napoleon: ready to conquer the world. There is a spring in our step and a smile on our faces. When we reach to our pre-booked table near the Riviera, we tend to soak in the ambience. There is a romance to every evening. We tend to find ourselves in the laps of fine company and an eclectic state of mind. Just like most things, travel for men like myself is not a liberator, rather, is the elixir of our being. After feasting well into the night with Kebabs and what not, one may feel inclined to forgo breakfast, but the extensive buffet is too enticing to refuse. One sets up for the day with freshly-baked bread and Turkish pastries, organic juices, a huge array of cooked dishes and plenty of fresh fruits and cereals. There is an overwhelming sense of calm in the entire hotel, which is more like home. Unbridled bliss is the name of the game it becomes impossible not to leave feeling utterly rejuvenated. The bespoke service of its staff, who are friendly and attentive without being bother some.I am inclined to believe, this’ true luxury.
Gift Giving Traditions Around the World
Giving gifts is a tradition as old as mankind itself. It has always been a part of our society. When you give a gift to someone, it tells them that they are special in some way to you. We give and receive gifts for many occasions, like birthdays, mothers days, Christmases, on our anniversary, etc. In fact, gift-giving is so integral to our world that many nations developed interesting traditions around it. Here are some of the most interesting ones.
When giving a gift in Japan you should be very careful. The Japanese people attach great importance to gifts and consider them something that is mandatory, not just a kind gesture. It is not desirable to surprise them, as they will be embarrassed if they cannot immediately return something to the gift giver. Therefore, it is a good idea to discreetly advise them that you will give them a small memento of your meeting. The gift is given exclusively in private, and it is not common to open it immediately.
In Korea, it is extremely rude to give or receive a gift using only one hand, especially if it is the left hand. You must always use both hands at once if doing so. Korean New Years greeting cards or gifts are never with a predominantly red color, as it is used for announcing funerals. Also, avoid gifts that come in sets of four as they symbolize death in Korea.
When giving a gift in India, you should always use your right hand. Using the left hand can cause offense as that hand is considered unclean. If giving money in India, try to give a sum that ends with 1. Odd numbers are considered very lucky in India. The number 1 is especially lucky as it signifies a new beginning. Because of this, giving a sum that ends with 1 is believed to grant prosperity to the gift recipient.
Gifts are not as important to the Arabs as to other people. They represent something that “gives hospitality a wider dimension”. When someone comes to dinner, small gifts such as flowers and candy are common, and as a sign of special affection, silver, crystals, porcelain, and famous brand items are very appreciated. Handkerchiefs of any kind associate them with parting and tears and should be avoided.
As far as Europeans are concerned, every nation is a story for itself. The French are quite reserved with gift-giving, the Germans are especially rigid and formal, and the Dutch are a little bit more relaxed. For Italians or Spaniards, the exchange of appropriate gifts is quite acceptable. Russians and people from Eastern European countries appreciate something from your own culture, for example, a CD with your national music or some other kind of token from your country. Also, in Russia, you should never give someone yellow tulips as they are the symbol of ending a relationship or betrayal.
Don’t be surprised if your gift is refused a couple of times in Ireland. This tradition comes from a time when they had the potato famine, and because of this, the recipients are making sure that you can really part from the item that you are offering. It will also show great humility if you refuse the gift they are offering you a couple of times. The standard reply in Ireland when someone receives a gift is “you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble.”
In Kenya, the Maasai people spit on a gift before giving it to someone. This is considered a sign of blessing and with this, they wish the recipient great fortune. Spiting is a very important tradition in Kenya. It is customary to spit on the head of a newborn child and on a hand before shaking it with someone.
Rohingya conference pledges to ‘remain steadfast’ in finding solutions to crisis
A joint UN-hosted donor conference to rally international support behind Myanmar’s displaced Rohingya minority, ended on Thursday with a promise...
UN salutes new Libya ceasefire agreement
Warring parties in Libya on Friday agreed an historic ceasefire, which was hailed by the head of the UN Support...
Third world needs ideological shift
As nations across the world have been pooling their efforts to contain the COVID-19 spread, the looming economic crisis has...
Yoshihide Suga’s Official Trip: What Does He Expect from Vietnam and Indonesia?
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s certainly understands the political importance of continuity, especially in Southeast Asia. Suga making a first stop...
Erdogan’s Calamitous Authoritarianism
Turkey’s President Erdogan is becoming ever more dangerous as he continues to ravage his own country and destabilize scores of...
The Election Circus and an Event in the Cosmos
The election in the US is held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. A Tuesday was chosen to...
Promoting Projects and Practices in Community Health in India
One of the most populated countries in the world, India has been facing problems with regard to well-being of its...
Arts & Culture3 days ago
Tandin Bidha: The Grace of Bhutan
Development3 days ago
Lao PDR: Poverty Continues to Decline but Progress under Threat
East Asia3 days ago
Suga Faces A Tough Road Ahead Without Enough Political Juice
Intelligence2 days ago
COVID-19 lockdowns are in lockstep with the ‘Great Reset’
Americas3 days ago
Sino-American relations: Origins of its future history
South Asia2 days ago
Human rights violations in India
Tourism3 days ago
Global Tourism Crisis Committee Meets Again: Coordination, Vital Ingredient for Recovery
Africa Today2 days ago
Burkina Faso ‘one step short of famine’