Saturday, July 19, 2008

I am tourist! Hear me babble something in broken Mandarin!

So, the secret to getting me up at 6:00 in the morning is simple: just send me to the other side of the planet. I had showered, eaten a leisurely breakfast (French toast and three cups of coffee), researched some places to check out, and hit the street before 8am. Oh man, let me just say first that I used every single bit of Mandarin I know today, and then some. It was pretty fun.

About 1 in every 10 people I passed today just outright stared at me. Last time I was in Wuhan it was a bit unnerving, but this time I was able to pretty much ignore it.

I spent the first couple hours exploring a large swath of the downtown area, and taking pictures. The most interesting discovery was when I came across a huge tea market. The entrance to it was not very obvious, but as I walked through, I realized it occupies about half a block! Inside are dozens of small tea shops specializing in either tea or tea accessories. If I could read Mandarin, I would probably be very happy with myself for discovering it, but instead it's kind of out of reach for me, because there didn't appear to be many English-speaking Wuhanese in there. I may have to get brave to take advantage of it before I leave.

The picture above is from where I very first walked in.

I located the place that I got the Ya Bozi last time (see previous post), but my stomach wasn't up to it at the time, so I just took a picture and noted the location. Then I took a taxi to the Guiyuan Temple. It is a beautiful old Buddhist temple with many altars, statues, and courtyards. I would have a lot more photos of the amazing woodwork there, but unfortunately, the most beautiful rooms prohibited photography.

The second picture is one of the courtyards at the Guiyuan Temple, where people were putting coins into the mouths of the little dragon heads jutting out from that bronze piece.

After that I went across the street to a funky little museum called the Wuhan Chinese Rare Stone Museum. My impression from talking to one of the English speaking employees there is that they obtain the most interesting stones that are excavated during construction, and have made a museum of it. I love museums with weird themes. I had to give it a try. Oh yes, it was interesting. They had some fossil collections in there that seemed to take some liberties. I saw a fossilized head of something that looks like some kind of cow with antlers, but not like any antlers I've ever seen. I suspect someone took some creative liberties with the fossil collection...

I can't resist including at least one picture from that strange museum. What do you think? It was labeled "Cervus Linnaeus."

But they did have some souvenirs unique to Wuhan, so I was told. They are what's called Chrysanthemum Stone pieces, which are black and white stone pieces where the white part is a quartz/calcite aggregate, and the black part is volcanic rock. They are very pretty, but heavy, so I bought just a small bowl.

Next I went by foot to the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge. Oh man, that was a longer walk than I thought it would be. Then I went below the bridge to Lotus Lake Park, which is a truly beautiful municipal park. Then took a cab back to the hotel for MUCH cheaper than the previous cab... but eh, whatever, the other one was less than $6, so it was still much cheaper than US cabs. From now on I know to just ask for the meter instead of letting the cabbie offer me a flat fee.

Got back to the hotel and ate lunch. Wow, it was awesome. Clay pot rice w/a special sweet Cantonese sausage, chicken, wild mushroom, and some kind of vegetable. Exactly what I needed. I was so moved I took a picture.

Hobbled up to my room to find that they were in the process of installing a new flat panel HD TV in my room. Sweet! Helped them install it, then collapsed on my bed, kicked my shoes off, and watched Gold Medal Ping Pong Tournament. Definitely getting the full Chinese treatment. Love it.


skmckinn said...

more photos of food, please. You should be taking pics of everything you eat, no matter what.

skmckinn said...

Oh and byt the way--that skull? I was laughing for 5 minutes. No offense, China, but the same historian that says no one died at Tianamen Square was a consult on that skull. I mean, really. That was the creature that fought off the tanks.

Digitizdat said...

I stared at that skull for awhile before deciding yes, I do think it was in fact fantastic. Kate, more pictures of food for you in the latest post.