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img_1792Dragon Festival is over and school is back in session. AEB is not terribly thrilled and yet she does like her classmates. I have come to Librairie Avant-Garde to sit, try the cappuccino and reflect on what’s to come in the next few days before leaving this place that means so much and yet I am so ready to leave.

I’ve had my rant and now it’s time to enjoy what time is left and think about packing, what to leave behind, to what bring back and what’s left for bring homes that I have not thought about. At least mum has a week beyond ours so if I think of something that I MUST have, she can pack it up and bring it with her.

Friday brings us to the top of Purple mountain, at least to the mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Who is still very important to the people of China. Mum and I wonder what China would be like if the powers that be had followed more of the ideas of Dr. Sun versus turning and following Chairman Mao and his cronies. It’s hard to know. Of course there is no mention of Dr. Sun’s having been a christian and that many of his guiding principles came from those of Jesus and his faith. This, of course, is not mentioned at all on any of the numerous plaques that tell about the good doctor and his work for China. As mum has done her lecturing she sees that there is a trend in wanting to teach morality and even tap into spirituality, but in an entirely secular way, which can be done but there will always be a gap left to be filled. So we climbed up to visit this memorial to him. 392 steps representing the 392 million people living in China a the time of his death. When mum and I first climbed all those steps it was 1995 and the place was less built up and not as “touristy” as it is now. It was a good workout. Whew! It was nice at the top looking down and out over Nanjing. When we got down the mountain we found a place to eat. It’s apparently a chain, but the atmosphere is of a particular era of the past, maybe close to the days of Dr. Sun. The staff were all in period style dress, the food was of that period and Nanjing food and served in old style pots and plates. It was very tasty and quite fun. Yes, a bit touristy, but sometimes you need to indulge in such things. 🙂

Saturday, we were picked up by Lilly and Jang Guo to head, one last time, to Fu Zi Miao for the procurement of AEB’s jade and to see some of the other sites there. Ever since we have talked of coming to China she has had her little heart set on finding a circle of jade to be put on a red cord as a necklace. I’m pretty certain that if she were not to find it her trip here would be considered a complete disaster. However, we were able to find her jade and she didn’t care much about anything else.

When we first entered the gate she was treated to candied apples on a skewer. Then we wandered down the markets to peer into the shops that had jade. Mum’s a tough bargainer and combined with Jang Guo I’m not sure the shopkeepers had much of a chance to gain a huge profit over us. I don’t mind their needing to make a living, or even make a bit of a profit, but they see the ivory toned skin and think mega-bucks. We living comfortably, but we’re all here based on frequent flyer miles and bonus points and mum making deals and bargains – I told you she was good! After finding the jade we went into the testing centre, which I can say was a real let down from the last time I had been through it. I’m not sure why the changes, perhaps there was a fire, or someone thought it would be better, or some high minded foreigner made some snarky comment about the way it had been set up. I don’t know, but now it hardly has anything and it’s not nearly as entertaining, or quite frankly, informative. You used to be able to wander through sections of the old testing area where the men were packed in tightly in a small room for at least a week. Food was delivered to the tiny room, but not before it was checked for cheats and aids. The men ate, studied and tested all in the same small space. They were not permitted to leave even for bathroom use. A chamber pot was passed along. But these things are not shown any longer. My favourite was the section that had a young man trying to get away from a snake that had decided to join him and the other was trying to put out a fire. These are gone. I’m glad I have pictures at home to remind me of what is now lost.

We enter now into our last two days of being here. I don’t know if I’ll manage a post before going. It may all come down to reflections state-side. There’s lots of reflect on. So much change, so much loss and yet so much new and good. We’ll see what the next days have for us…

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