China Trip Part 3: In and Around Nanjing

I hope you enjoyed my 2 previous posts about my September trip to Nanjing, China.  If you missed them, Part 1 explores behind the scenes in the teaching hospitals of the Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine.  Part 2 of this 3-part blog series shows you around the new campus of the university and their medicinal herb garden.  For an acupuncturist and herbalist, this was an amazing experience!

The culture of a foreign city can really open up your eyes to human life in ways you may never have considered.  I did my best to capture a glimpse of life in the city of Nanjing with photos and videos.  With its population of 10 million people, this expanding city is so modern in many ways, yet still embraces some of the ancient remnants of its past.  The dichotomy is striking at times.  Enjoy!


This view along the city river shows the modern repetitive, purely functional-but-not-pretty apartment structures juxtaposed with the elegant works of art that are the old temples.  This river is so polluted and there are signs posted all along it warning not to fish here.  But every morning that I ran along these banks, there were fisherman hoping to catch something.  Ewww.


Despite the poor state of health of my lungs, I tried to run most mornings before breakfast (like around 5:45am). This was the view along the city river one morning. Dodging street vendors and scooters and trash on the streets was part of the run, too, but I didn’t want to show you that.


Rainy dawn on a Sunday. That’s the only reason you see so little traffic and so few people at this major intersection in downtown Nanjing. I loved the ergonomically shaped rain ponchos for scooter and bicycle riders. The scooter version had a clear plastic window that fit over the headlight so the poncho stays in place in the wind as you ride while still allowing your headlight to shine through. Clever.


I don’t recall what this building was (maybe a high end apartment building I thought as I ran past it on my morning run) but how cool are these doors?


Apartments across the street from the municipal teaching hospital in Nanjing. Nanjing is a very crowded city. 10 million people currently reside there. This is double the population compared to when I was first here in 1999.


There’s an intriguing dichotomy to life in Nanjing…access to the most modern technologies and transportation systems (a bullet train station with 25 train lines and a brand new subway system called The Metro)…yet they still utilize branches bound together to form a broom for sweeping the streets. I find this resourceful yet inefficient.


A covered and guarded parking area for scooters. More and more citizens drive cars now in China (they can finally afford them), and there is also a brand new underground subway system that moves many many people through the city every day. But scooters are still a main form of daily transportation for many citizens.



Most of the scooters in Nanjing had these…I don’t know what to call it… protective garb that is worn like an apron with oven mitts. They are to shield the rider from wind, cold, puddles, or whatever may splash up onto them as they cruise the streets. Hello Kitty was particularly popular fabric design choice.


Can you guess what these paths are for?  I was obsessed with these raised “tile” tracks that were all over the main thoroughfares in and under the city of Nanjing. Here you can see it in the Metro (the new underground subway system) as well as up on Hanzhong Road (in downtown Nanjing). It took me a few days to figure out what they were for. They are to help blind people navigate the streets and other areas! They are guides for their feeling sticks. They have different groupings of raised bumps to indicate crossings or obstacles. It seems so caring to me ❤! I’ve not seen this in other cities before, though people who follow us on Instagram have informed me that many cities across the world have these. I haven’t seen any in the U.S. though.



When I was here in 1999, the only western brands that had a presence in the big cities were McDonald’s and KFC. Now there are U.S. and European brands all over. Even Starbucks! The day came when I broke down and had to have a latte. I was immensely grateful for this western institution’s presence in Nanjing. Don’t judge me.





Beautiful art in the underground of Nanjing. This was exiting the Metro at the Nanjing Railway stop. Getting ready to take a bullet train to Suzou.


Chinese money is pretty. The Ren Min Bi (RMB) or Yuan (¥). The current exchange rate is $1 US equals 6.6 Chinese Yuan (or 1¥ = $0.15).


Cranes, cranes, and more cranes. The view outside the Nanjing South Railway Station. So much expansion going on everywhere I look. Up, up, up. Building projects in every quadrant of Nanjing and many of the larger cities in China. Exponential growth it seems.


Our beloved Dr.Jin….always coordinating, communicating, connecting, networking and planning. This is her home city. And it seems she knows everyone. And they all love her. I’m pretty certain she is secretly the mayor of Nanjing.


Approaching the platform for the bullet train from Nanjing to Suzou. I’d never been on such a fast train before and I was as excited as a kid waiting for a ride at Disney World.



It’s often the little details that endear me to a different culture. Like this porcelain tea cup. I adored it. This was the place setting for tea during a business meeting I had in Suzhou.


Sea buckthorn berry juice. Divine nectar of the gods! I would have drank this every day for the rest of my life if I could have.


Babiest of baby bok choy, cabbage, noodles and broth. With the drink (orange Fanta!) it cost $2. I could have eaten this every single day for lunch for the rest of my life and I would not have gotten sick of it. I cannot say that about all the food in China.


Guardian lion (sometimes erroneously called a Foo Dog by westerners) at Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing, China.


Guardian lion at Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing, China. You can tell this is the female because she has the lion cub under her paw.





The ocarina – an ancient woodwind musical instrument. It is a type of vessel flute and makes heavenly, ethereal sounds. So many different varieties! The flutes themselves are pieces of art.



At Bu Bu Bu, the fabric shop in downtown Nanjing. So many choices! I chose the most beautiful navy blue brocade and had a traditional dress custom made for me.


Woman sitting outside Bu Bu Bu, the fabric shop in Nanjing, performing extremely intricate thread repair of a pair of pants. Her work was exceptional…you couldn’t tell there had ever been a tear in the clothing. Such fine attention to detail.


Woman doing Tai Chi while she waits for her friend to finish shopping. Nanjing city center.  FYI, I was shopping in H & M (the only shop I could find clothing in my size).  Major cities in China have now been infiltrated by western brands.  This was not the case back in 1999 when I was here last.  And the cost of retail goods has risen significantly in the past 18 years because the economy here is very strong and more Chinese can afford to pay higher prices.  The items in H & M were pretty close to the same prices they are in the States.


A row of stone dragons guards the path through the gardens at the Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty, in Nanjing, China. Kinda reminds me of the flying dog from Neverending Story.


One of the Guardian Lions at the entrance to Jiming Temple in Nanjing, China. This is the male of the pair. He has the ball (which represents the world) under his paw.


One of the Guardian Lions at the entrance to Jiming Temple in Nanjing, China.You can’t quite see her cub, but he’s there under her left paw.


At the entrance to Jiming Temple in Nanjing, China. It is very auspicious to say prayers here during the year of The Rooster (and 2017 was The Year of the Rooster). According to Wikipedia, “The Jiming Temple (Chinese: 鸡鸣寺) is a renowned Buddhist temple in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. One of the oldest temples in Nanjing, it is located in the Xuanwu District near Xuanwu Lake. The temple, which literally means “rooster crowing” was first constructed in 557 during the Liang dynasty and has been destroyed and reconstructed many times. The existing temple was initially constructed during the Ming dynasty during the reign of the Hongwu Emperor in 1387. It was destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion but was rebuilt later.”


A dragon drain (or maybe fountain?) at the Jiming Temple in Nanjing, China. It’s the fantastical, lively architectural features like this that are absent from most modern structures these days.


Prayer flags at Jiming Temple.


I am so enamored by the ornate stonework on the roofs of the ancient buildings in China. I adore the flowing, curled up corners of the roofs and the whimsical creatures that adorn and guard them.


Little baubles of good luck and well wishes adorn this ginkgo tree at Jiming Buddhist Temple.


My favorite photo that I took on this trip. The roof of the ancient temple with the Nanjing city skyline in the background.


Lighting incense to place in the big cauldron after we give thanks and say a prayer in a little ceremony together at the top of the Jiming Temple.


So many sticks of incense burning in the big cauldron at the top of the Jiming Temple in Nanjing, China. September 2017.


My last night in Nanjing, China. Enjoying a local microbrew at a picnic table outside a pub in a back alley with my new colleagues/friends from The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine.


My last night in Nanjing. Most of the recent grads from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine were able to join me for a drink and some fantastic stories on a drizzly night in a back alley. I really enjoyed this group of fine people. I am glad to continue to count them as my friends and colleagues.


How cool is this four dragon sculpture in the Beijing Airport? I loved it. Good thing…I was stuck there for hours. Air China cancelled my flight from Nanjing to Beijing, the first of 3 flights to get home. Which meant…I missed all my other flights. Air China said they couldn’t contact me about the change because I had purchased my tickets outside of China. Umm, yeah, that is how travel works…you buy your plane tickets while you are in one place, and that ticket acts as passage to other lands. Ugh. I was stuck in the this airport for half the day and then had to scramble to get on standby for other flights back to the States. it took me a total of 40 hours to get back to Fort Collins. I was not happy.


Returning to Colorado felt like a massive relief. I love to travel, but I was happy to be home.


When I returned from this trip, I swore I’d never go back to China again.  I think it was the cranky traveler in me whose flights were canceled and who spent overnight in LAX curled up in chair, clutching my bags and sleeping with one eye open.  My lungs resented the toxic air in Beijing and Nanjing.  My nose rebelled against the awful smells in some parts of the cities, my skin both loved and hated the extreme humidity.  The food is not my favorite and sleeping on box spring made for restless nights.  And yet… I’m a practitioner of Chinese Medicine with an uncommon specialty (dermatology) and there is little opportunity for additional training for me outside of China (I’ve completed all the training currently available).  Hopefully, my dermatology teacher in England (Mazin Al-Khafaji) develops his advanced dermatology course soon.  But there’s always China waiting for me.

Tags: china, china trip 2017, Chinese medicine, featured, jiangsu, nanjing, travel, world travel

Topics: News & Events

Publish Date: January 8, 2018     *Articles may include updates since original publishing.

About the Author ()

Diana Hermann is a licensed acupuncturist and board certified in Chinese Herbal Medicine. She received her Master Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, OR and trained in China at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Diana treats patients in her Fort Collins, Colorado clinic and hand crafts herbal skin care products for her company Zi Zai Dermatology. In 2015, she completed the Diploma In Chinese Medicine Dermatology program from Avicenna in London, UK.

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