Here is one of the most awaited trips of the year people!!! Planning a trip to Eastern China has always been on our agenda since we came back from the states. We love covering ancient cities like Nanjing and Hangzhou that are filled with so much history and culture.
We started off, by booking our tickets through Singapore Airlines via Changi to Nanjing which was our first destination.
Singapore Airlines has the best connectivity especially when it comes to Asian countries and even remote places where other airlines do not have many options to offer or that many frequent flights. Plus, we prefer Singapore Airlines more over others since this is the one airline that we have been flying on for years now and it is a familiar happy place that never disappoints.
We flew from Mumbai in their Boeing 777-200 Aircraft Business Class, that had both of us so much pampered and well-taken care off. Usually, I do not sleep on any flights, but boy, I only woke up when we were about to land.
I must mention here that the crew was so kind and courteous that they came to inform and confirm with me once before serving me my pre-booked halal Muslim meal (which otherwise goes unnoticed by many). Such super spacious seats, lip-smacking food and top-class hospitality always touch my heart.
Having a good 4 hours lay over at the best airport in the world, only means that you have had a kick-ass start to the trip right? Changi Airport is one of the most beautiful, green and luxurious airport in the world that caters to every single need of it’s passengers.
We landed at T3 that has a unique roof architecture for maximum natural yet soft light that fills the hall. I am always spoilt for choice when in Changi Airport as their 400 retail and service stores house some of the biggest brands in the world. Here are top 5 favourite things to do at Changi Airport that we recommend :
- KrisFlyer Gold Lounge is open 24 hours every day and is available at T2 & T3. You can get this access either by buying a Business Class Ticket like us or by being a KrisFlyer Elite Gold member (Economy Class) both departing through Singapore Airlines. You get free access to their buffet, showers, pcs, internet and a world-class lounging area.
- The Cactus Garden at Terminal 1 on a roof top has a bar along with a magical view of the planes whizzing by next to you and 100+ species of cacti that are collected from across the globe.
- Butterfly Garden at T3 is an ideal hang out place for families where you really won’t realise how time flew by. Watching over 1000 butterfly flutter around me, was so de-stressing.
- If you fancy a swim or a dip in the jacuzzi then make sure to head over to T1 to check out their rooftop pool overlooking the runway.
- If you have 5 hours layover, you can register yourself for a free Singapore tour!!
From Changi Airport, we hopped on Scoot to Nanjing which was our connecting flight there on. 5 hours later we reached our first destination in China – “Nanjing” which is the capital of Eastern China’s Jiangsu Province.
Nanjing also is known to be one of the most ancient cities in China that harmoniously has retained it’s commercial premises, education hubs, natural beauty, history, art and urbanization. We highly recommend you to add these 7 places to your itinerary when in Nanjing. Starting with our Day 2 in China :
- Nanjing City Wall, an iconic heritage site, stands tall after so many years as if time stood still. It was initially built from the perspective of military defence but unlike the other walls, this wasn’t destroyed in wars. It was built by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang from the Ming Dynasty in 1366. Originally the entire wall extended over 34 kms and the city of Nanjing was confined within these walls.
At present, you can still have access to and visit 19kms of the City Wall. The most ancient city wall of the world has markings and messages engraved across so many bricks used for the wall construction that were a way to warn the Emperor in times of need. These structures are a reminder of the unending stories of the Ming Dynasty.
- Usnisa Palace Or Buddha Top Palace, is located in the west peak of Niushou mountain in Nanjing and this entire building consists of 6 floors underground + 3 floors on ground level. The Niushou Mountain is named after “cattle head” which represents two peaks on both sides, east and west. It also has restaurants inside the main building serving both veg and non-veg food.
The famous Usnisa Pagoda stands right next to the Buddha Palace. If you look closely at the top of the Palace, it is divided into two parts – one half looks like Buddha’s robe (kasaya) and the other half looks like his head. Best part about getting to the top of this mountain is the 10 mins scenic trolley ride. P.S. – They have escalators all the way to the top and also underground which makes the trip smooth and easy. Don’t forget to leave your good wishes at this tree which the commoners believe has wishes and prayers from all over the globe.
Under the dome of Usnisa Palace lies the famous Sakyamuni rotating statue on the lotus shaped pond which symbolizes Buddha’s “Life Journey”.
- Confucious Temple Market lies right next to the Qin Huai River in Nanjing and it is a must visit to experience the lives of the locals there.
Be it the small, quaint cafes or local restaurants serving the famous duck blood soup or pecan duck, this place is every foodie’s delight and is always swamped with people and pets as this is a famous hangout area. Pecan duck was first introduced here in Nanjing. What really caught my eye was the Ming and Qing style architecture which is still intact.
- Mausoleum Of Dr, Sun Yat-sen covers a huge area of 80,000 sq meters in the east suburb of Nanjing. It is one of the most sought-after sites in the Purple Mountain. Named after Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Republic Of China, who is also known to end the Qing Dynasty monarchy, thus by allowing people to step into a new age. The mausoleum is surrounded by lush greenery, a walk of 20-25 minutes to the main area and it truly is a place with great historical significance. These 350+ steps are a symbol of love and respect that Chinese people have in their hearts towards Dr. Sun Yat-sen. They are also a constant reminder that everyone is equal here in his eyes and this are an ode to his heroic deeds.
- Right next to the Xiaoling Museum, you will spot the biggest imperial tombs in China of the Ming and Qing Dynasty. UNESCO has listed it as a world cultural heritage site and the pathway that leads you here also consists of some of the oldest larger than life stone structures that represent the officers, emperor and his advisors.
Fun Fact – These structures that you see next to me are of the officers. But how do you differentiate between a senior and junior officer?? Simple, moustache equals senior officer, no moustache equals lower rank!!
- Nanjing Museum is the second largest museum in entire China, so we would suggest keeping at least 4 hours for this, especially if you too love history like us.
They take you all the way back to the pre-historic times and you will witness so many artefacts that were actually dug up way back from the Ming and the Qing Dynasty. Make sure to carry your passport here at the time of your visit if you are not a Chinese national. Since the rules state that all foreigners need to present their passports.
- Presidential House in Nanjing was our last stop on Day 3 before we headed to Huangshan. This palace has been home to many royalties from the early Ming Dynasty. Governor Liangjiang was the first person to operate his office there and it also gained great importance after Sun Yat-sen took his inauguration oath here as the President of the Republic Of China.
You’ll witness so many offices, work spaces, meeting halls, private gardens and lake that were once used for meetings of international calibre by the President along with other diplomats from around the globe.
Nanjing for us is rich in history, architecture, greenery, ancient dynasties and important landmarks of China. It’s existence in itself goes all the way back to 6,000 years of civilization. It has so much to offer and we left the city dreaming about going back during the winters someday, as the atmosphere changes completely.
Make sure to catch Part 2 of this article to know more about our eastern China trip.