Owen Daniel

Marketing Consultant; Events Manager;

Journalist & Author; Web Developer & SEO Specialist

Following in the Footsteps of my Ancestral Drug Dealers

Some of the lads and I decided to explore Zhenjiang, a small city based just outside of Nanjing with a history dating back to around 200 BC.

After a brief, twenty minute and 304km per hour, train journey - we headed straight for Jiansun Park; an ancient site where the Chinese tried to hold off the British during the First Opium War of 1842.Jiansun Park

As we crossed the moat protecting the island by ferry, this place feels majestic. It is a little odd to think I’m following in the footsteps of my ancestral drug dealers and we have come to the place that was the scene of the First Opium War’s final battle almost 172 years ago to the day.

We stumble into the mesmerising grounds with the enormous Yangtze River shimmering silently in the background. We are greeted by a handful of Buddhist monks kitted-out in either yellow or grey robes and smiling warmly; they were keen to show us photos of their only visit to the West when they took a trip with Chinese dignitaries to Niagara Falls.Buddhist Monk

There were gigantic, extravagantly decorated replica statues of deities covered in gold everywhere inside the various old buildings. We followed some bass-heavy gongs and Buddhist chanting and ended up in a tranquil bonsai garden; it contained dozens of really old, but tiny, beautiful trees.

We then hiked up to the wooden pagoda on the top of the hill – stopping off to admire the cannons they’d aimed at our pesky forefathers – but, unfortunately, it was already closed for the day. As we continued exploring the other spaces dotted around the island, we found lime and pomegranate trees, strawberries and blueberries growing in the wild with gorgeous butterflies and dragonflies darting between them. In the many pools there were enormous frogs and very cute little turtles swimming around and relaxing in the sunshine.

A great day was had by all, and thankfully we felt no animosity at all regarding our country’s questionable drug dealing past. Still I find it hard to believe us British went to war in order to secure our right to sell opium. What were we thinking? We must have had one hell of a PR person back then. Everyone knows selling drugs abroad is a silly move, but presumably if your government backs you, then it’s OK. Some things I’ll never understand.

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