Like Beijing, this place has a lot of history. In 1937, the Japanese forces captured this city and killed 300,000 civilians.
This city is one of the five former capitals, and you'll find the emporers's enormous tombs (somewhat dilapidated) outside the city walls.
People here greet you with "Ni hao?" which means "are you good?" Coal smoke wafts into the streets from yam vendors. Don't let the smoke fool you; per government policy, buildings do not have central heat. Residents and visitors layer up in warm clothes.
At this point, you might be wishing for some variety in your diet. You'll find chocolate cake and other western treats at the Black Cat Cafe near Nanjing University.
You stop by a local monastery for good vegetarian food and tea poured from fancy tea pots made in Yixing. It's a few hours bus ride from here to Yixing where you can haggle for a tea pot in the shape of a forest stump, complete with moss, lichen, and four tiny frogs for legs.
The park is a good retreat from the heavy bicycle traffic and mayhem of the city.
Your best bet for cheap train tickets is the black market, but buyer beware! If you want to play it safe, get up at 6 am and pray that you will find the right line and the right train station, because, noone, not even the ticket sellers will agree where the lao wai (honorable foreigners) should buy their tickets.
Try to get a berth in a sleeper car, because it's a 24 hour haul to Beijing .
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