Slowly earning my badge of courage and itching to explore Nanjing’s historical landmarks and scenic spots, my guides came in the form of a copy of Map magazine, the hotel tourist map and collated index cards of translated words and places. In a month, my palate feasted with its discovery of Xinjiekou’s and Hunan Lu’s wealth of gastronomic delights. My travel itinerary expanded with the inclusion of monthly hiking at Qixia Mountain, strolling by Xuanwu Lake and other hidden historical sites, including my favorite Jiming Temple.
Altogether, they started to complete my picture of Nanjing while continuously leaving me in awe with the city’s fast-changing landscapes as more modern structures take over older residences and buildings.
My Nanjing will always be nostalgic with thoughts of newfound families. The sudden autumn chill herald the season’s brilliant red, golden brown, chrome yellow playfulness. Trees have started shedding their leaves, the pavements now carpeted with the crunchy assortment of fallen foliage from cedar, holly, pines and other deciduous and evergreen broad-leaf trees that used to festoon the city with green garments.
As each of the four seasons passes, Nanjing and China has taught me how strangeness can grow from a mere outsider’s curiosity, an adventurer’s appetite for exploring new worlds, a student’s hunger for knowledge, to become a son of humanity’s larger family. In the end, I learned that these are some of the things that will never get lost in translation; in whatever languages they are spoken.