You know what, I want to return to Wuhan, for these... also.
23.12.2011 - 02.01.2012
Wuhan, December 30th 2011
"At least you've found the acrobat hall. And, you made a successful in finding an accommodation close to the hall," I comforted myself. "Come on, let's soak in Wuhan!"
I fantasized how splendid Wuhan would have been in autumn. I can see that.
"Genting Coffee"! As I had associated "Sentosa" with Singapore, so did I associate "Genting" with Malaysia because of Genting Highland. Later on I found out that there's a hotel named "Genting" in China. There's even an oil and gas company in China named "Genting" also. In the past I had always thought that the name "Genting" for "Genting Highlands" in Malaysia came from a Malayan word similar to the word "genteng" in Indonesian which means "roof" in English. Because it's something something on "highland", so it's like on a "roof", I had presumed. Well now, I doubt that. Maybe the name "Genting" for "Genting Highlands" is actually taken from a Chinese word. That won't be surprising as Chinese existence in Malaysia is acknowledged pretty well.
Hah... this brings my mind back to the issue of the origins of batik. The Malaysians claimed it to be theirs. My countrymen turned furious for batik has ever since been existing here. From great great granny to great great grand daughter had and have, been wearing batik. That's enough proof that batik should be ours. On the contrary, China who actually invented batik, kept silent. Or, I just didn't get the news. Needless to repeat, I've found batik in Vietnam and Japan, both in traditional art shop, meant to be sold as their traditional work. See, you should travel! You might find batik in Italian culture shop... aha!
Anyway, back to Wuhan.
Automatic library!! Fantastic!
I bought some Western bread at a Western bakery. The name of the shop, the exterior and interior, suggested it was Western. Apparently, because of the people in Wuhan are generally broad and tall, the breads in this bakery were shaped the same way. I bought 3 pieces and brought it back to Sentosa Hotel. Too bad I forgot to take a picture of them. I ate a big round pizza bread and a long cheese bread. They stuffed me in enough that I called it lunch.
Thanks to the free internet connection inside my room, I searched the internet for an interesting place to visit, as my plan for the acrobat show had crushed. I really wasn't prepared for Plan B. One of the tourist sites on Wuhan mentioned a lake which through the photo looked interesting to me. I checked out the location with Google Maps. Google Maps is a brilliant guide, I have to say. It listed the number of the buses I had to get on from my location to that lake. If I had known, this morning I needn't had to trouble the front desk staffs forcing themselves speaking English with me.
When I was considering on what stuff to put in my camera backpack, I heard a knock on the door. It was the room service lady.
"Tíng yīxià," I said to her. She stood in front of my room with her cart while I got my bag ready. She did not move a bit. But she talked to me several phrases which of course I didn't understand. So I just nodded and smiled at her while putting on my coat. You know, during winter, when you want to go out, you cannot just go out. There's a standard procedure that has to be done: shawl, coat, stockings, socks, hand gloves, hat...
I felt uneasy seeing her standing like a talking statue in front of my door. So I said, "Qǐng jìn," and she stepped in at once.
While I was considering where to keep my wide angle lens (I had decided to leave it to ease the soar on my shoulders.), she started to do her job with deft. I had already locked my suitcase and opening it in her presence, I thought, would make her know what is inside. Well, the only precious thing inside there was only ringgits for the last legg of my journey in Malaysia. But, as Mom used to say, "Don't put someone into temptation." So where shall I put this then? Ah... at last I just placed it inside the cupboards drawer and sealed it with a prayer. Time's running out.
Meanwhile the lady (she didn't look quite young) kept on chattering. "Duìbùqǐ wǒ bù huì hànyǔ."
"Ah!" And she said no word anymore.
Before I left, I thanked her, "Xièxiè nǐ." but she just looked at me.
(When I was back, I suddenly realized that I should have said "děng yīxià" instead of "tíng yīxià". No wonder she kept standing in front of my door like a statue. "Děng yīxià" means "wait a minute", but "tíng yīxià" means "stop awhile". Hence, she obediently stopped. And, the first thing I did when I entered my room was opening my cupboard. My wide lens laid on the exact same position.)
Successfully, thanks to Google Maps, I got to bus stop for the first bus. The bus route for each number was also clearly written at the bus stop. I didn't know how to pronounce the names of the places. But being accustomed to Japanese characters, I could easily copy the characters and find which one was the same.
According to Google Maps, I have to cross the street from here to get on the second bus. Wow... how can I cross this street? The street looked very wide. Although Wuhan people are tall, the people standing at the bus stop across the street looked small. I didn't see people crossing the street either. So how do you cross this street? Just take a taxi...? Oh, no!
For a minute or two I just stood there thinking. Winnie the Pooh would have to find a tree trunk. Then I saw people immersing and submersing... from a hole on the ground... Aha! There's a tunnel!! Oh, this must be something like the one I passed through in Chengdu. So I submersed myself into the tunnel. Ah... but there aren't any shops here. Although plenty of light is provided all through the tunnel, I guess it would be rather scary for a lady to walk through here alone during night time. The tunnel in Chengdu, was not only shorter, but had many shops and a couple of canteens. It was just like the tunnels that go to subway stations. I somehow felt relieved when I saw sunlight above my head again.
The next thing was a long adventure of the day. I mistakenly jotted down the direction of the bus on my note. I got on the right bus, but what I jotted down from Google Maps was the last stop of the bus instead of the stop where I should get off. Thus... I followed the bus all through the way... far far away.
Once again I crossed Yangtze River. Yesterday by train, today by bus. I gasped through my window at the dots on the flowing water. The river was sooo wide that people looked like dots and the boats like tiny squares. I completely forgot my camera. The Mekong River I had been in awed with all these times, is nothing in comparison. On my left was Wuhan's well-known Yellow Crane Tower Bell. It's very much more mentioned on tourist sites than acrobat show. If the bus had stopped somewhere nearby, I would have gotten off and take a couple of pictures.
I began to wonder why it took so much longer than Google Maps' estimated time. The bus wasn't crowded when I got on near the tunnel. And then it started to get crowded. And then people got off one by one. The bus wasn't crowded anymore. The bus wandered on. And the bus started to become crowded again. I was still on the bus.
When there were only passengers left on the seats again, suddenly a young man came forward and slapped the bus driver's back who didn't look young anymore. The young man spoke in a harsh attitude. I was wondering: Is this just the way of talking or is it something serious? Last year, on the train from Kunming to Chengdu, I thought the lady across me was mad with the other passengers. And yet they played continued playing cards joyfully all through the night.
The driver stayed calm and only replied a few sentences. The young guy grabbed his shoulder again. And then I heard some other passenger saying something with a loud voice. The young guy looked at them and said something. And then he turned back to the driver and continued speaking harsh. Louder voices were heard from among the passengers. Oh, oh... this seems serious.
My imagination went wild. In my home city, occasionally there are fights on the bus. Could this be one also? I better get off here!!
I got off, and... that young guy got off also!! Aaarghhh! If I knew, I would have stayed on the bus.
The place where I got off was filled with shops. Boutiques, shoe shops, kitchenware, sportswear, etc. It seemed Wuhan is about 2 things: lakes and shops. The vicinity near my hotel was no much different. My Japanese boss also told me that our mother company has a factory in Wuhan. Wuhan is a city of trade.
It was pass three already when I arrived at the last bus stop. I had seen a lot of Wuhan, but was very far from the lake I had intended to visit. I already realized my mistake, but it would be too late turn back and head to the lake. At the bus station I saw some long buses like the busway in my home city. It's like 2 buses attached together. Pardon me, I don't know how to say it in English. Bus trailer? Hmmn, I want to take this bus on my way back.
But it would be a total waste if I don't stop to capture part of this city. No acrobat show, fine. No lake, fine also. This is an apartment near the bus terminal. It looks like an apartment for "the haves", because it appears significantly different to the apartment near my hotel.
Across the terminal, down the street, was a market. This side of the street was like a different face of the city. I followed this road and it headed to a railroad. I saw people carrying suitcases. A train station must be not far from here.
I got the bus trailer! Come on, join me! Let me show you around Wuhan!
This side is obviously the opposite side of the market place near the bus terminal just now. So glamorous.
I envy those ladies on the bike. In my home city, riding a bicycle in this kind of vicinity would be totally out of question. Can you imagine a bicycle passing by a Gucci shop?
MacDonald has a farm too in Wuhan. Ee i ee i oh!
At one of the cross roads.
The double-decker!! You know what, I definitely want to come to Wuhan again. It should be in autumn. And then I want to take a ride on a double-decker from one bus terminal to the last stop. The route I've taken today has no double-deckers. So if I take a double-decker, I would see another side of Wuhan. I'll sit on the second floor and take pictures.
"Darling, you don't like to eat. You don't like to shop. You find much more pleasure on getting on trains, bus trailers, double-deckers, etc. than on eating and shopping. Who would want to go crazy with you?" I teased myself. "You've already been odd by coming to Wuhan for acrobat show. And now you say you want to come again to Wuhan for a double-decker and just ride on it from nowhere to nowhere?"
Nearly an hour had passed. This route is really a long route. I wonder how long does the whole route take. Meanwhile I had to make a note on my cellphone's note every time the bus stopped at a bus stop. I don't know the name of the bus stop near my hotel. I only know it's the 21st stop. Hah... this is a method of keeping track that definitely can't be done with the buses in my home-city -- in the whole country I suppose. We aren't a communist country. We are a free country. So free that a bus driver can stop and go as he wishes.
Nightlife is coming to sight.
Hey! Isn't this the place where I took a walk last night? That's the apartment of those which I suppose don't count into "the haves". That's the overhead bridge. And just nearby is a supermarket where I bought a product of Nescafe which I've never seen in my country nor in other countries I had visited. Coffee, coffee... I'm coming!
Excitedly I jumped off the bus... without realizing that I hadn't paid the fare. The thing was that I got on from the door in the middle side, together with other passengers. I understand that the system is to pay through the machine next to the driver. But, if I got up to pay, most likely someone would seize up my seat. It was a convenient place for taking pictures. There was no seat in front of me, because in front of me was the door. I also had much space in front of my feet to lay my camera backpack. So I thought, when I get off the bus, I would go to the front door and pay my fare. However, when the thought of coffee entered my mind, I forgot about anything else. On the other hand, I was amazed how easy it was to be actually dishonest. Hence, I felt more safety.
The one on the left is the special one. The taste is unique. I bought 4 boxes of them. The one on the right is like Indonesia's Nescafe Ice, only that this one has a stronger sense and is less sweet. You know what, I want to return to Wuhan, for these... also.