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09/07/2013

What to do in Nanchang

As the capital city of Jiangxi like Xian (where you can start your Silk Road travel) of Shaanxi, Nanchang is an optional destination for your travel.

1. Nanchang Folk Custom Museum

Stumbled across Nanchang Folk Custom Museum (Nanchang Shi Minsu Bowuguan) at 165 Zigu Lu by accident, walking from Rongmen Lu back towards Bay Lake looking for a bus. But this is a must see in my opinion. Set in a beautiful old courtyard style house there is even less English in here than the Provincial Museum but it is well worth a visit.


Focusing on all aspects of Chinese life, particularly the Jiangxi Gan people there are unique examples of embroidery, tools, marriage customs, etc. Many interesting aspects to photograph and building details to be in awe of. A very small and quaint museum but certainly a tick in the box for those reviews that are negative towards Nanchang as a dull and depressing city 'not worth visiting'. One of the best street addresses I've come across this year too. Zig-a-zig-ahhhh.

FREE ENTRY and free cloakroom/bag store.

Interesting setting and old-y world-y feel. Great to see a bit of character amongst the metropolis and slip through a little time warp, learning something at the same time.

2. People's Square & the Bayi Monument

This people's square is wide and expansive as some I have visited. Juxtaposed against it's harshy imminent Soviet aesthetic is the Wanda Plaza and one of Nanchang's several Walmart department stores.

Flying kites in summer, no doubt dancing and exercising by night, rollerskating and countless other activities that make the public spaces so vibrant in China, it is interesting to visit at different times of day and weather. If you are exploring Nanchang on foot then you will have no choice in the matter and expect to pass through the square more than once. To one side stands the Bayi Monument which is an interesting place from which to observe the changing trends in Chinese social trends and popular culture, for example, fashion.

3. Climb the Temple Stairs

It seems like there is always a temple to travel to China. Nanchang was no different. This particular temple has a long history of being built, conquered, destroyed, and rebuilt. A major fire erupted here and the temple burnt to the ground. It was rebuilt and parts of it were still being finished when I was there in 2006. On one floor, there was a solid gold statue of Chairman Mao.

The steps look intimidating but were easily traversed. There is an elevator, but the walk up the wide wooden steps inside the temple made it easier than it appears to get to the top. Upon arriving on the upper floor, there is a brief show of traditional dances and songs. The performers are stunning.

4. Tengwang Pavilion

On the banks of the oozing cesspit that is the Ganjiang river, sits the Tengwang Pavilion, one of the most modern buildings in Nanchang. It was constructed in 1989 to llok like the version that sat here during the Song Dynasty.

Inside the pavilion, at the lower level, is a hall showing the models of the Tengwang Pavilion trhough its many different periods. The poor old pavilion was destroyed during almost every dynasty and quickly rebuilt.


The mosr recent version, although extremely attractive, has been built exceptionally poorly, and just 20 years later the materials are broken, falling off and just decrepit. Sad really. But par for the course in Nanchang, I'm afraid.

Perhaps the most classic situation is the construction of a corridor that leads to a small outlying pavilion.....the corridor ends against a blank wall and the steps up to the pavilion are on the other side of the railing.

5. Walking by the Ganjiang

The Ganjiang river flows through Jiangxi (an optional destination for last minute China travel deals ) slowly winding its way to the Yangtze to the north.
Much of Nanchang city lies on the far, western bank, but this was barely visible through the smog when I was there.

The river can be seen from the Tengwang Pavilion - it's the huge grey flat thing with boats on under the huge grey flat sky above. As the two blend into each other, it gives you a curious sense of a warped reality.

To the south of the pavilion, there is a road and linear park running alongside the river, but with its damaged pavements, broken concrete, litter strewn grass and stunted trees it's more like a scene out of some post-holocaust B-movie. (The additional joy being that because of the constant smog the whole scene is in black and white).

Check out the huge lock just south of the Tengwang Pavilion. Men fish here and they say they take their catch home and eat it. Mmmmmmmm. The water looked truly disgusting.

You can consider to contain the above in your popular China travel package.

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