Is Jiangsu the hot new China destination?

30 10 2016

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Although most of the province is less that two hours by train from Shanghai, and it includes the supposedly beautiful “garden city” of Suzhou, I didn’t make it to Jiangsu on this trip.

The provincial capital of Nanjing, once of course China’s capital and scene of one of the grisliest massacres of World War 2 (the “Rape of Nanking”) has recently been hard at work upgrading its tourist credentials.

I was intrigued by a poster in a Shanghai train station adverising the newly-opened Usnisa Buddhist complex on Nanjing’s outskirts, a hyper-modern and lavishly-scaled temple complex perched on a mountain slope. Similarly over-the-top in design is the reconstruction, completed this year, of the city’s “Porcelain Pagoda”, a wonder destroyed some 150 years ago and now rebuilt by China’s richest man, with an an(other) Buddhist themepark attached.

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And finally there is the Sifang art complex, peeking out from the treetops in a pair of sleek architecturally-driven boxes, also just outside the city. I was reminded again of Japan in the bubble years, when these costly prestige projects came so thick and fast that no-one could keep track of them, and spectacular buildings that should have been star attractions flew completely under the radar.

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But it doesn’t take long for the old China to reassert itself. The province is also home to a safari park in nearby Yancheng that has eleven stuffed giraffes on display, placed as a reminder not to feed the animals after they choked to death on plastic bags fed to them by visitors 😦

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