With this post, I believe I’ll be all caught up.
So the week after Myanmar was mostly spent catching up on work, before a sudden trip to Nanjing to see some of my classmates who are currently in a grad program there, a grad program in cooperation with Johns Hopkins university that I’m thinking very much about applying to down the road. Got the chance to “patch up” my Nanjing experience by visiting the major sights I didn’t have time to go to when I was there two and a half years ago, namely the Nanjing Museum, massacre memorial and the presidential palace. Also got a chance to drink a lot of tasty craft beer with my friends, they took me to a place that has 40 taps and a metric tonne of bottles, with almost all of taps being domestic brews which was really impressive.
I don’t think I need to go into the Nanjing Massacre, it was horrible, terrible, and the museum does a great job of commemorating it. The dark humor of it all is that I went the morning after getting the news of John’s death (see my earlier post). Great place to go when you’re in a mourning mood. The presidential palace was also really cool, and is still in great shape. It was the home of the temporary government of Sun Yat-sen when the revolution was just getting underway, as well as the HQ of the Taping Rebellion.
Quick briefer on the Taiping Rebellion, it was started in the mid-19th century by a guy who believed he was the brother of Jesus and wanted to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. He made a pretty good attempt, controlling a good amount of the south of the country and creating a headache for merchants everywhere. As is true today, even in the midsts of war, people have to eat and buy things, and so many merchants tried to make a profit moving goods between the territories of the two sides. However, the Taiping had mandated that to wear a queue (the long braid/bald head look worn by all Chinese men in the Qing that signified their subservience to the ruling Manchus) was punishable by death. So if you lived in Taiping territory you had to cut off your queue or be put to death, if you tried to go to Qing territory, you’d be put to death for not having one, and vice versa, not a great situation, but some merchants apparently managed to pull it off.
Also perplexing is that the west decided to help the Qing quash the rebellion despite their shaky relations and the leader of the Taiping rebellion’s open willingness to work with the West. One of history profs at UMass actually wrote a book about the rebellion, and posits by helping the Qing, the West broke China’s dynastic cycle and precipitated Sun Yat-sen’s rebellion. He claimed that had the West instead helped the Taiping, China would still have an emperor today and be much more integrated with the West. Something for the alternative history authors to play with.
After an exhausting train ride back, I set about preparing several projects, a Chinese-American dialogue that will apparently be televised, another talk, and did some good work on my research. Had a relatively chill weekend to catch up on work, wrote another poem, and have some new exercise goals, which are to be able to perform a smooth bar muscle up (getting from hanging from a bar to having my body above it in one fluid motion) and a planche, which is this. (No that is not me, but I hope it will be someday)
Anyway, the program’s taking us on a trip to Yan’an this weekend, so I’ll be back with a post on that next week, and then might be silent for a while as I’m going back to the states for a week for an orientation. Pictures!