by Daniel Otero
With a space in circumference of 15 kilometers, Xuanwu Lake in Nanjing is a place for those who enjoys nature walks, runs, going to the Isle to view its man made stone gardens and greenery. The artificial mixes in just nicely with the natural. Life is beating constantly around the Lake and Nanjing Wall, considered by most a bird sanctuary so of interest to bird watchers. There is a scenic panorama of romantic-long walks and boat rides. For 30 RMB (5.81 CAD), tourists can climb the old stone steps to the top of the Wall. If you have enough stamina to walk the 15K, that’s almost one-third of a marathon!
The entrance to Xuanwu Lake is gorgeous and colorful with gracious Chinese architecture. It’s located 200 meters from the Xuanwu Station metro line 1. The Lake itself has shown special historical significance since the days of the Song Dynasty; where the Navy rehearsed and trained for battle. After the construction of the Nanjing Wall, it remained a constant protection of the city and the longest uninterrupted city wall till the 17th Century.
The Wall and Lake in conjunction is a magnet for those who enjoy revisiting the past. While Xuanwu overlooks the Zifeng Tower (13th tallest building in the world) and further into the distance, there’s the Jiming Temple. It’s a must see when visiting Nanjing.
Xuanwu is a great walkabout around the Lake and Isle. Whether it’s to see it one time or the one-hundredth, it’s well worth the experience. The negatives about Xuanwu Lake are that it has turned more into a U.S. theme park, where the tickets for the boat rides are overpriced. Sadly, this has turned it into a ‘Disney’ show and not a lesson in culture or for that matter, Chinese history. It’s just too expensive and over-commercialized. It has more kiosks promoting McDonalds than Chinese food. And it’s not only the promotion of burgers. They’re also the Miami Beach Hot Dogs or the Korean elements of cuisine. Chinese culture has almost entirely been excluded from the mix of fast food menus! Outrageous as it may sound, an average Chinese lunch or meal comes to about 12 RMB (2.33 CAD). If you buy a set or combo at one of the fast food stations, prices go as high as 35 to 45 RMB (6.78 to 8.72 CAD). For the average Chinese—that’s taxing on the pocket!
I suggest, whether it’s the first time visiting or the last; to be here in China is to learn more about Chinese history/culture and admire the beautiful views. Therefore, the best way to spending money is to climb Nanjing’s historic and most beautiful wall, and walk the distance to contemplate on the gorgeous buildings, pagodas and temples far off into the distance. Then, it will be a true taste of China.
If You Go:
Nanjing is a city easy to access through its metro system. Traveling from the South of the city or downtown, Xinjiekou–take metro line 1 going north. Get off at the third stop. The station is identified in Chinese as well as in Romanized-Pinyin, “Xuanwumen”.
About the author:
Daniel Otero is a teacher and part-time writer for Beijing Global Times and Hangzhou Weekly. He has been living in the city of Nanjing for six years. And one of the greatest reasons for this New Yorker to stay in Nanjing: its great worth of people, food and ancient history.
All photos by Daniel Otero