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Travel: Visit To The Nanking Massacre Site

Most of my trips abroad are for food, shopping & sight-seeing. But my last trip to China served another purpose – to visit the Nanking Massacre site. I couldn’t help but started planning for the expedition after reading “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II", a bestselling 1997 non-fiction book written by Iris Chang about the 1937–1938 Nanking Massacre.

The book intrigued me for a long time. I don’t know why it took me so long before finally picking it up to read. The “story” was stomach-churning, tear-wrenching & thoroughly riveting.

"If the dead from Nanking were to link hands, they would stretch from Nanking to the city of Hangchow, spanning a distance of some two hundred miles. Their blood would weigh twelve hundred tons, and their bodies would fill twenty-five hundred railroad cars. Stacked on top of each other, these bodies would reach the height of a seventy-four-story building." - from the Introduction of The Rape of Nanking.

It was said that Chang succumbed to her battle with depression after the book & finally took her own life in November 2004. Apparently, the Nanking book “had made Iris sad".

My 10-day China trip covered Nanking, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi & Shanghai. I’d mixed feelings as I’d no idea what to expect of Nanking, one of the oldest 7 cities in China. I’d a fantastic guide who'd prepared us mentally before reaching the site cause we’d be seeing skeletal remains of massacre victims etc, he explained. I’ll not be displaying these gruesome pictures here. For the brave-hearted, you can visit the official site to view the pictures.

The Nanjing Memorial Hall was built in 1985 by the Nanjing Municipal Government in memory of the 300,000 victims who lost their lives during the Nanjing Massacre. The memorial exhibits historical records & objects & uses architecture, sculptures, videos to illustrate what happened during the Nanjing Massacre. It occupies a total area of approximately 28,000 sqm.

The Memorial Hall was crowded with tourists. The first sculpture that greeted us was a child - "Frigidity & horror have frozen this crying baby. Not knowing mum has been killed, blood, milk & tears have frozen...", written on it.

Est 300,000 victims have been killed during the Nanjing Massacre
Mass Grave 10,000 corpses are buried below

I've chosen to give a brief recount & display only a handful of pictures. Afterall, not everyone can take this kind of stuff. After reading the book & being able to visit the site personally is indeed an experience. The Nanjing Memorial Hall provided me with great insight & deeper understanding of the World War II. I continued the rest of my journey to other provinces of China with an open-heart. After touring something so serious & sad, it was time for a mood change.

En route to Hangzhou, I visited Wuzhen – a lovely water town reputed as the “the last resting-on-water town in China”. With a dense network of rivers & wharves, people built their houses along the river & established markets close to bridge. Stone railings & arch bridges, river banks & verandas seemed to be telling us stories.

I continued to explore the Longjing Tea Plantation producing the famous Longjing Tea Leaves & bought some very expensive tea. Paid S$300+ for 500g of premium grade tea. Well, you can call me a sucker……. But when you're there, the tour group, the tasting session, you buy, I buy & at the end, everyone’s buying. But at least, we got to learn how to appreciate tea or rather, how expensive tea can be.

China, where Longjing is produced mostly by hand & has been renowned for its high quality, earning the China Famous Tea title. Longjing is often called the national drink of China & is frequently given to visiting heads of state. Now you know why the high price... (Man in the pix demonstrating the making of Longjing tea)

Wuxi - Li Garden to view the matchless beauty of Taihu Lake,
one of the largest freshwater lakes in China.
Wuxi - Performance @ The Three Kingdom Movie City

>Wuxi - Fresh water Pearl Factory
Suzhou, is a city in Jiangsu province.
It's famed for its beautiful gardens & traditional waterside architecture.Learning how silk is made @ a Silk Factory
My last stop was Pearl of the Orient, Shanghai. I've been to Shanghai on countless occasions but this is the 1st time I spotted such creative kiddy pants. I asked my mum & she said kids in China wear this for convenience so they can do their business anytime, anywhere.
Well, my 10-day China trip was a fruitful one. I saw what I wanted. The Rape of Nanking illustrates the absolute depths of war - a place where humans become inhuman. Is it possible to prevent these episodes, or are they an unavoidable component of war - one that will exist as long as nations exist?


  1. Shirley, you not only showed us your trip highlights, you showed us your heart. It's an honor to know such a caring, thoughtful person.

  2. Kim, I cried a lot for the people when I was reading the book. Honestly, not everyone likes this type of book. LOL!

  3. China is such a beautiful country, filled with rich culture and history. Some of which are quite tragic and horrific. I have not read that book yet, but I will surely check out my local bookstore if they have a copy of it. My curiosity have been stirred by your post.

    You know, I have been following your blog just recently, but already you have taught me so much in terms of cooking, travelling and appreciating culture. I am so glad we bumped into each other in the blogworld :)


    A Single Girl's Musings

  4. Wi, I'm glad that u're willing to pick up the book to read. It also takes guts to go thru as it has quite a few gruesome pix. Not a lady's book.

    I'm flattered, Wi! I'm delighted that u found my blog informative & I'm glad I met u too :)

  5. Shirley thanks for taking me on a virtual tour to Nanking. I have not read the book even My Quay Lo has it. It make too feel to sad to carry on.

  6. Veron, your hubby has the book? Maybe u should get him to tell u the story instead. But definitely not as a bedtime story.

  7. I have been very tempted to read the book "The Rape Of Nanking" but I have no guts till today. I saw the book at kinokuniya and flipped at the photo contents briefly. It gave me chills and goose bumps instantly. I did not even dare to visit the memorial hall during the recent trip as my ultimate plan was to visit Mount Jiuhua where I had to catch the only bus transport available from Nanking to the remote mountains in Anhui. You are a very brave lady!

    I also missed going to Wuzhen and ended up in Suzhou instead which i found a bit too commercialized. I will visit Wuzhen someday to see real folks still living by the canals.

    1. TM, I've to admit it was one of the best novels I've ever read despite it all! Don't know why, just wanted to to visit the site so badly after reading the book....


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