If there was a place to see swarm theory at work, China would be it. The train this morning is at 0615hrs, early in the morning, in fact so early even the sun is not up yet. D404 is a bullet train going to Nanjing. Finally on my way there for a day trip. Journey should take almost 3-ish hrs. The train is full as usual, seems to be the best way to do business here. Its always full. I still have no idea what to look for there yet, I have my guide book but will take a look at it later on, first priority is to get some sleep at this ungodly hour. Plenty of walking coming up.
Gear-wise, same as Suzhou last week. D2H with 40mm ULTRON SL, and Leica M6 with 35mm ASPH. Brought my GPS along and the Nokia E61 for blogging. Films: 1xProvia100, 1xProvia400, 1xPortra160VC, 2xTriX, 2xFP4+. Plenty of film, type depending on the availability of colour at destination and weather. Ok time for a nap. Train about to start moving, as soon as the swarm settles down.
1134hrs: Just spend 2 hours almost going around half Xuanwu lake along the tall Ming City Walls. The trees here just look really nice in the morning sunlight, they colour the bottom half white for some reason. For them to locate it during winter? Weather started bright but hazy in the morning but now its starting to get very cloudy. Had a small breakfast consisting of chinese pastry, the sausage bun was disgusting. The sausage feels like plastic. Maybe its the plastic wrapping they forgot to take out. On the way in the mountains now looking for the Ming tombs. A couple of kilometer away so I'd better get going.
1338hrs: Currently at the Ming Emperor tomb area. A very large park, large entry fee too at 70rmb, no wonder this place is quite quiet, relatively speaking for chinese standards. The tomb itself looks like a typical palace complex, symmetrical, altars after altars and ends with a large mound which looks like a hill. They call it treasure mound but it looks like a hill still. Still a very cool day today, light jacket is sufficient. The walkway lined with stone statues were impressive. No idea which part of the park is recently renovated and the part that has been around since 600 years ago. No matter. Changed my d2h battery halfway thru this place, its shot at least 1000 shots using the came battery. Next up, walk back down to town to see the ming palace ruins, a good 2-3km away due west from here.
1523hrs: In the taxi after visiting the ruins of the Ming palace. Its in a park where the guard charges 1 rmb to get in. Seriously I'm not sure if he's collecting it officially or for his own pocket since theres no official receipt. Anyway, heading southwards, first theres all the large stones from the ruins, most of the stones seem to be the foundations for the columns. Then theres the 5 bridges before getting to the meridien gate, very very similar to what you would get at the Forbidden City in Beijing. However, the water under the bridges are stagnant, so they stank and full of algae. According to books, it was modelled on the Ming palace in Nanjing. Looks credible enough to me. Otherwise, its a typical park where the ruins are located, old people practicing ballroom dancing, and there the odd occasional old man talking to trees, or walking backwards, possibly believing that it reverses aging (my theory).
1638hrs: Finished Zhonghuamen, the large gate to the south and now taking the metro to Xinjiekou station to look for dinner. This is the large gate to the south of the city, overlooking a river or a large moat. The structure cost 20RMB to visit and is imposing, if you're trying to attack Nanjing 600 years ago I think you'd be dumb to bring this part down. You'd have more luck with the 20m walls around the city. Could it be as fortified as Constantinople? Worth a visit though, just one, this is one of those attractions thats like a typical DVD, watch once and thats it. But watch once at least. According to the Lonely Planet, the large rooms built into the gate was supposed to be full of souvenir peddlers, but I don't see any of them. However there are a couple of bird trainers on the inside, the part of the gate that is facing the city. Seem to toss the bird, then some food high into the air to see the birds catch it in mid air and then back to the trainer's palm. These were little little birds that look a little like the ones in Pixars For the Birds, with the fat beak. Makes good subjects for leicanauts like me. Reserved a couple of frames for the little birds, the owners surely dont mind. They're there to show off.
1721hrs: waiting for dinner at a restaurant along HanZhong Road here in nanjing. 7 more shots left on the tri-x on the m6 and its getting dark. The only other thing to do today is to get full and wait for the train that leaves for Shanghai at 1907hrs.
1754hrs: Consumerism... Usually it doesnt have to make any sense. Sitting in Starbucks having my 25rmb short Mocha. Its full, and there was another full Starbucks down the road. And the shopping district is full of christmas decorations. Haagen Daz, which seems to be thriving here. Long queues outside Pizza Hut, which I don't even step into nowadays since it reminds me of long hours in the office. Its a consumer world, and China is waking up to it in a big way.
1850hrs: D447 will be bringing me back to Shanghai tonight. As usual I never get to sit where I should because there is always a group that wants to exchange seats so tat their posse can be together. The last shot on the tri-x film was of 3 workers looking at the train schedule in unison. Here's what it looks like...
Today was a long long walk in Nanjing. Good exercise but maybe a little too much of an exercise! Didn't get lose since this city is relatively easy to get around. No, not too much into museums, prefer to see and touch real relics in the open.
Again, Think Tank's Speed Demon was the bag of choice today. Just enough for my 2 cameras with no extra lens. There was a couple of times, especially at the Ming Tomb where it would have been great to have a 12mm lens, but its ok. I can live with it. For flexibility, I think I will need into getting a 50mm lens for the Leica. Will go check in Tokyo this coming Sunday. The 50mm frame in the M6 viewfinder looks nice, with peripheral view all there, much more than 35mm when wearing spectacles.
Nanjing looks like a nice city to be in. From today, at least the National Park where the Ming Tombs is and the City Wall parks look very well maintained and all that. Very atypical for places this size in China. It looks like a place I wouldn't mind living in. The mountain area looks like a nice place to cycle in. Cars here seems to be a little civilized than Shanghai, maybe its apparent.
The D2H has 401 shots today, and 2 rolls of Tri-X on the Leica. Respectable, but I believe the keepers on the DSLR will be very low. Quite a number of bracketing was done today. Ok will be taking a little nap in a while. Tired from at least 10km of walking and hils to climb. In 2 hours will be arriving in Shanghai. Actually would be nice to time it... started moving at 1904hrs, and arrived in Shanghai at 2116hrs.