A souvenir is a permanent reminder of a journey.
These five memorabilia — light, pliable and unique to local culture — are stellar picks in Nanjing, each selected for travelers with different points of interest.
Fashionista: Yuhuashi necklace/bracelet
These jade-smooth, rainbow-hued stones let fashionistas wear a physical chunk of Nanjing.
A distinctive geological product of the city, Yuhua Shi (雨花石), or literally Rain Flower Stone, can be more colorful than a kaleidoscope, and makes a one-of-a-kind fashion accessory. Formed some 2 million years ago, these premium stones show stunning natural patterns imitating landscapes and animals.
Yuhua Tai (雨花台), a 1.13square-kilometer park in south downtown, has a dedicated area introducing everything about the local specialty gem.
Price: Single stones from about RMB 10 (US$1.6); necklaces from about RMB20 (US$3.2) Buy it at: YuhuaTai, No. 215 Yuhuatai Road, Yuhuatai District 雨花台区雨花路215号; admission: free for the park, RMB 10 for Yuhua Shi Culture Area; open daily 8.00 a.m.-5.00 p.m.; official website
Sports nut: Lele plush toy
This stripy toy puts enthusiastic sports fans ahead of their league in the mascot-collecting race.
The Yuhua Shi-inspired figure, named Lele (砳砳), is the icon of the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games, of which Nanjing is the host city.
The two-week international event taking place between August 16-28, 2014, will admit athletes aged 14 – 18. Itwill be the second Youth Olympics. Singapore held the world’s first Youth Olympics in 2010.
The toy is available in different sizes, from 18 centimeters to 35 centimeters in height.
Price: RMB 48 (US$7.7) for a 18-centimeter toy; RMB 135 (US$21.7) for a 35-centimeter toy Buy it at: Certified 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games retail store, 5/F, Zifeng Plaza, Gulou District 鼓楼区中山北路6号紫峰购物广场5楼; open daily 8.00 a.m.-9.00 p.m.
Gourmet: Packed salted duck
Travelers can take home a dish of the city’s food staple, yanshuiya (盐水鸭), or salted duck, in a neat way.
Many supermarkets and retail stores stock the cold dish in portable and sealed vacuum packs. Each bag usually contains a whole duck, which can be eaten directly or after a quick ‘zap’ in the microwave.
The duck meat is well-seasoned, juicy and tender.
The best brand for packed yanshuiya is Gui Hua Ya (桂花鸭). The food chain cooks the fowl with a hint of sweet osmanthus.
Price: A 1-kilogram pack costs about RMB 50 (US$8) Buy it at: Various locations. Gui Hua Ya (Shanghai Road Branch), No. 3-1, West Hankou Road, Gulou District 鼓楼区汉口西路3-1号; open daily 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; official website
History buff: Yunjin brocade
Dating back about 1,600 years, Yunjin (云锦), or cloud brocade, arose from one of the most exquisite and sophisticated weaving methods in Chinese history.
Incorporating precious materials, such as silk, gold, silver thread and even peacock feathers, the textile was once reserved exclusively for the emperor’s dragon robes.
In the Yunjin Museum, visitors can purchase all sorts of accessories, from fans to scarves, made with the previously royal fabric woven on site.
The time-honored technique made UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.
Price: RMB 18-35 for fans (US$3-5.6); RMB 30-48 (US$4.8-7.7) for purses; from RMB 380 for scarves and shawls (US$61) Buy it at: The Nanjing Yunjin Museum of China, 240 East Chating Road, Jiany District建邺区茶亭东街240号; free; open daily 8:30 a.m.-5.00 p.m.; official website
Family: Rabbit lantern
Local families have a tradition of parading with colorful rabbit lanterns during Spring Festival, especially during the Lantern Festival (the 15th day of the Chinese New Year).
Master craftsman Cao Zhenrong (曹真荣), 68, produces old-fashioned candle-powered lanterns in Gan’s Grand Courtyard.
Cao’s scaled-down rabbit lamps, made with oiled paper, sport a spectrum of colors and come in a handy palm-size.
For those who speak Mandarin, the amiable artisan is keen to share his Nanjing lantern tales.
Price: From RMB 20 (US$3.2) Buy it at: No. 15, Nanbuting, South Zhongshan Road, Baixia District 白下区中山南路南捕厅15号; admission: RMB 20 (US$3.2); open daily 9.00 a.m.-5.00 p.m.; official website