Written by nofootprint on 16 Apr, 2010
WuhanOnce again I am surprised by the size of this city . I guess I still have my preconceived vision of China with small villages with little rice paddies. There are 8 million people here and tons of modern skyscrapers. By Chinese standards this…Read More
WuhanOnce again I am surprised by the size of this city . I guess I still have my preconceived vision of China with small villages with little rice paddies. There are 8 million people here and tons of modern skyscrapers. By Chinese standards this is a medium sized city but no matter how you dice it its still 8 million people! Lots of smog lay heavy in the airI really hope China gets control of their smog problems , the world needs their help!!Our trip here began with a visit ti the Hubei Provincial Museum The highlight here is a 20 min concert played on 2500-year-old instruments. It is really quite amazing!We are also treated with some traditional dance .Scarf dancing was very popular with the people of ancient times . We are told the Emperor of 2000 years ago was taken with the beautiful slim girls performing this dance. The performers put on a fantastic show for it really helped set the tone to imagine a different life of so long ago. The museum itself contains many interesting exhibits that date back to about 400BC. My favorite is this rice cooking pot in the picture. It was stolen and found after many years in an auction in the USA and eventually returned to ChinaOn the drive from Wuhan across Hubei province we had a chance to see the countryside. People here grow a variety of crops, such as cotton, rice , corn, lotus and even fish in little ponds . No space is wasted. I was surprised to see how small the farms were and that they are being worked using farm animals. It looked like a very hard way to live!I first got a chance to sample lotus root in Wuhan. We had it both deep fried and also stir fried . It was very tasty. Its not an easy crop to harvest. Farmers drain the ponds and then when the plant dies down they find the root with their feet in the mud!The only negative with the trip was the stop at the "government stores" where we soon found out the prices are ridiculously high. Often we saw the same products from venders and small markets for a fraction of the cost! As an example I was shown a "silk" jacket for $79.00 . I ended up buying the identical one for $15.00 from the local market. This trend was all over everywhere we went. A word of advice.If you are told by your guide there is no bargaining at the government store remember that's usually not the case. Close
Written by nofootprint on 27 Dec, 2009
Once again I am surprised by the size of this city . There are 8 million people here and tons of modern skyscrapers. By Chinese standards this is a medium sized city but no matter how you dice it its still 8 million people!The first…Read More
Once again I am surprised by the size of this city . There are 8 million people here and tons of modern skyscrapers. By Chinese standards this is a medium sized city but no matter how you dice it its still 8 million people!The first thing I noticed was the smog that laid heavy in the air .I really hope China gets control of their smog problems....the world needs their help!We visited the Hubei Provincial Museum. The highlight here is a 20 min concert played on 2500-year-old instruments. Quite amazing! We are also treated to some traditional scarf dancing . This form of dance was very popular with the people from ancient times . We are told the Emperor of 2000 years ago was taken with the beautiful slim girls performing this dance. Inside the museum there are many interesting exhibits that date back to about 400BC. This rice cooking pot in the picture was stolen and found after many years in an auction in the USA and eventually returned to China. On the drive from Wuhan across Hubei province we got to see the countryside. People here grow on very small farms a variety of crops, cotton, rice , corn, lotus and even fish in little ponds . No space is wasted. I was surprised to see how small the farms were and that they are being worked using farm animals. It looked like a very hard way to live!Eating Local!! I got a chance to sample lotus root in Wuhan. We had it both deep fried and also stir fried . It was very tasty but its not an easy crop to harvest. Farmers drain the ponds and then when the plant dies down they find the root with their feet in the mud!Watch out for the Government Stores. We were often taken to "government stores" where we soon found out the prices are ridiculously high. Often we saw the same products from venders and small markets for a fraction of the cost! As an example I was shown a silk jacket for $79.00 .If your guide tells you there is no bargaining at the government store remember that's usually not the case. Its definitely worth a try . I ended up buying the identical one for $15.00 from the local market. This trend was all over everywhere we went.Even though the pollution got my attention first when we arrived, I will remember Wuhan for its hard working people with friendly welcoming faces. Wuhan also made me realize how little of the world I know when a city like this can exist with 8 million people and I did not know it. Close
Written by nmagann on 16 Dec, 2005
Recording over school property and associating Christmas with dead relatives is not the message I want to convey. I have made enough faux pas already.Students are very quiet, partly due to their culture and partly because their teachers demand it. Wanting my students to be…Read More
Recording over school property and associating Christmas with dead relatives is not the message I want to convey. I have made enough faux pas already.Students are very quiet, partly due to their culture and partly because their teachers demand it. Wanting my students to be more vocal, I would have contests where the winner would receive a postcard and we would all applaud.I brought in Christmas music and wrote the lyrics to "Jingle Bells" on the board. I knew they knew part of it but not the first part. I said the words and they repeated them. When I played the tape, I found myself singing alone. When I finished singing, they applauded me. Deserving this, I laughed with them and told them it was their turn to sing to me. I could hardly suppress my giggling as they filled in the unfamiliar lines with la, la, la until they got to the refrain where they exploded in song.I played the two other Christmas songs that I had found on a website sung by a teacher for the class. One student popped out the tape to look at it. Not being able to find blank cassette tapes, I had taped over a cassette that was supposed to be lesson plans, which was clearly marked on the tape. I quickly put the tape into my pocket and began talking about upcoming classes. I had already told them that to celebrate, I would bring presents for the winners of contests during the last class before Christmas Day.Living in rural China, I had to do a lot of improvising. Since I found no ribbons or bows, I bought yarn. Wrapping paper proved to be more difficult. All I could find was this ugly yellow tissue paper.I had wrapped and decorated about a dozen little gifts when my boss stopped by. I held up one of the bags of candy and asked what they yellow paper was used for. He inspected the bag without saying a word. Then he picked up another one and looked at the bottom, where there were faint red ink markings. He then said the paper was burned in memory of relatives. I cannot imagine what my students would have thought if I have brought in gifts wrapped with this paper!After unwrapping the presents, I went in search of something else to use. All I could find was rolls of what appeared to be wallpaper. Upon closer inspection and help from the clerk, I discovered it was actually thin paper to put in windows. I wrapped all the gifts with this paper. Well, it was better than having the holidays associated with relatives that had passed on. I showed the kids how the back came off and how it would stick to the windows. They were real impressed with that. I wonder what the teachers thought when they came into their rooms and saw pieces of paper stuck on the windows. And to all a goodnight! Close
Written by vincy on 29 Oct, 2008
"Morning. Which place to go today? We haven't been to that one beside the Machine Tools Factory for a long time. How about that? Alright, I'll meet you there". It is 6:30 in the morning. Lao Wang, a middle-aged man is making a call to…Read More
"Morning. Which place to go today? We haven't been to that one beside the Machine Tools Factory for a long time. How about that? Alright, I'll meet you there". It is 6:30 in the morning. Lao Wang, a middle-aged man is making a call to an old friend to discuss the breakfast café they are going to meet at. He runs a China Hotel in Wuhan, a city in central China dubbed as the stove city for its hot weather in summer. Their breakfast get-together (can be literally translated as Guo Zao: to spend the morning) has a history of 10 years since Wang was laid off. So are many other people of this city. Thanks to the rich variety of snacks in Wuhan, a leisurely taken breakfast with friends has long been a necessary start for hundreds and thousands of locals. The most popular snack for breakfast is undoubtedly Re Gan Mian (Hot noodles with sesame paste mixture). To make it, you need spaghetti, sesame paste, soy sauce, salt, black pepper and green onion. If you can find some, the flavored chopped dry radish (Luo Bo Gan) would be a great icing on the cake. The spaghetti should be prepared the prior night, boiled and dried --- but not too dry in case the spaghetti get stuck together --- and processed with some kind of alkali. When making the noodle, immerse the spaghetti into boiled water for a while and dry it out. Then put the put the premade sesame paste, soy sauce, salt, green onion and black pepper in and mix them up. The taste is probably a bit strange for most first-timers --- think of the noodle with very little water but rich flavour --- but nearly all who takes another try will love it at once. The phrase Re Gan Mian is probably the most written word in the home letters of Wuhaners in foreign places. It has become a symbol of the city, like hamburger is to the Americans. Like milk is for bread, soymilk is the best companion to Re Gan Mian. It is the rich creamy milk made from whole soybeans. To make it, the soybeans are soaked for a few hours before grinded with water. The fluid which results after straining is soymilk. In different places, soymilk can be made from a variety of beans, ranging from black soy beans to mung beans. In Wuhan however, most if not all soymilk peddled are made from soya beans. Other popular breakfast snacks include rice wine (Mi Jiu), a lite wine made from rice and tastes like Japanese sake; Dou Pi, steamed rice covered by a thin skin of egg-bean powder mixture; and Zha Ci Ba (fried glutinous rice cake), a rectangular fried cake made of glutinous rice. Most people take their breakfast at little roadside stalls or small restaurants near home or office. The usually one-hour long breakfast is unthinkable in western cities. However, besides the delicious snacks, conversation at breakfast is probably another reason for people to stick to it. It is a major circumstance of social communication. Very often a breakfast can start with two people and end with five --- more new friends are made thereafter. Topics can range from family trivial to international relationship. Right or wrong is not a major concern here. Even children can join in at times, if they are bold enough to challenge their fathers. That is partly how tradition is formed, I guess. 7: 50. Lao Wang has taken his last drop and is saying goodbye to his friend. You will probably see him again tomorrow morning at another stall, with an old friend. Or a new one? Close
Written by nmagann on 25 Mar, 2006
HONGSHAN PARK, not to be confused with nearby Hongshan Square, is quite large. I made the mistake of choosing the wrong direction when looking for the entrance, which took me around the four perimeter streets. These streets, Zhongshan Lu, Minzhu Lu, Luoshi Lu,…Read More
HONGSHAN PARK, not to be confused with nearby Hongshan Square, is quite large. I made the mistake of choosing the wrong direction when looking for the entrance, which took me around the four perimeter streets. These streets, Zhongshan Lu, Minzhu Lu, Luoshi Lu, and eventually Wuolu Lu where the entrance is located took an hour and I am by no means a slow walker. There are many sites within the park.One of the first buildings I discovered was where the monks ate. At first I just peered in the door, not knowing if it was permissible to go inside. Moments later I saw someone else go inside briefly so I returned. Inside, small wooden desks with stools made several rows where the monks ate. At each one I noticed their meager belongs of a small bowl and set of chopsticks. Off in the corner was a very basic pot, no doubt for soups. Outside the building was a large wooden fish hanging from the eaves that serve to strike a drum indicating it was meal time.This is a working monastery for Buddhist monks. I peered around the corners of different buildings to discover basic living quarters. Monks with shaved heads wearing different colored robes walked around. They were actually quite friendly. That is how I learned that the colors of the robes indicated whether a person was in training, or was a full fledged monk.I walked into another building which had a small Buddha in the middle of the room. Scrolls of various landscapes, and Chinese characters adorned the walls. The ceiling pattern contained magnificent blue dragons as in the attached photo.BAOTONG TEMPLE was absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately describing it is nearly impossible. It was dimly lit and no photography was permitted. In the middle of the room was a floor to ceiling size Buddha and a pyramid of 100 thousand little Buddhas next to it, but this is not what was so impressive.The walls were floor to ceiling Plexiglas. Behind the Plexiglas was something like an evolutionary scene. At the bottom were waves of the ocean with caves and stalactites dripping down to meet the water. In the water were various marine life; lobster, crab, sea snake, sting ray, turtle, sail fish, clam, and a dolphin. Standing on the creatures heads were 2’ tall figures of arhats or die ties. Standing in the caves were more arhats. I could tell the deities were made of a ceramic material and were draped with jewelry like pearls around their waists and necks. The ocean and caves could have been made out of plaster for all I know. I know there are approximately 500 deities with 16 major ones that people worship, if that is the correct word. All I could find in English was the plaque on the wall outside. I would have really liked to have a found a book, or postcards, or been able to take photographs, but this was an actual working monastery. A desk stood off in the corner with books for the monks as I could see handwritten notes in each one. I was so impressed that I brought the other teacher down to go here again. We both have tried to research this place to no avail.Beyond this temple is XINGFU TEMPLE, an eight story pagoda built in 1270, constructed out of solid stone. It is one of the oldest buildings in Wuhan. It contains false doors with carvings of Buddha on them. For a small fee you can go inside, but seeing so many trees I didn’t figure it would be for the view. During summer solstice the tower has no shadow and is therefore sometimes called the Shadowless Pagoda.Entrance to Hongshan Park is a mere 5y and worth visiting more than once. Close
Written by nmagann on 23 Nov, 2005
The conditions at my school may not be identical to those in other cities, but I am inclined to believe they are similar. Personally, I am lucky in having only 70 to 80 students in each of my classes. The regular classes have 100 to…Read More
The conditions at my school may not be identical to those in other cities, but I am inclined to believe they are similar. Personally, I am lucky in having only 70 to 80 students in each of my classes. The regular classes have 100 to 120 students. The furniture consists of basic wooden desks with flip tops to store books and supplies. Children sit on wooden stools in a room with no air-conditioning or heat while their teacher wipes away sweat to keep it from running into her eyes.The earliest classes begin at 8:10 in the morning, with the last one ending at 8:30 in the evening. Classes are 45 minutes long, with a 2-hour lunch period. School is in session on Saturday as well as Sunday for the seniors. The long days are to help an overcrowded situation with limited classrooms. Sunday classes are preparing seniors students for the final exam they will take, which determines what high school they will attend. Students do not change classrooms, teachers do. We pick up our materials, go to other buildings, and climb stairs for our next class.There are no parents picking up their children from school. Most adults do not know how to drive, let alone own a car. Therefore, children either walk or ride a bike. As the sun begins to set earlier, those with later classes begin using small flashlights.Many students eat two meals a day at school and sometimes three. Vendors set up along the street before and after school as well as during lunch. I can tell you this; you do not want to be walking down the street at those times.I speak no Chinese and the students in my class have been studying English for 3 years. They know opposites, homonyms, personal pronouns, and much, much more. I am there for them to fine-tune their pronunciation, practice speaking, increase vocabulary, and provide American cultural elements.When asked how they spent their summer vacations, the answer invariably was studying, and they aspire to become doctors, engineers, writers, and teachers.Teachers, parents, and students are dedicated to a good education. Do not get the impression it is all work and no play. The very children I see playing ping-pong, making paper airplanes, and throwing spitballs are the same ones mature enough to walk home on busy streets, choose a meal from a vendor, and opt to study in lieu of shopping. They simply do not sit idle or complain of boredom.Students welcome free time and make the most of it. These young people are bright and well adjusted in spite of an environment that many in America would find appalling. Close
Written by nmagann on 01 Nov, 2005
Wednesday at 6pm, I received a call from Zheng. I had been cleaning in the bathroom and was going to spray it down while I showered. She asked me if I had had dinner. My thoughts raced quickly to my (what is the correct answer…Read More
Wednesday at 6pm, I received a call from Zheng. I had been cleaning in the bathroom and was going to spray it down while I showered. She asked me if I had had dinner. My thoughts raced quickly to my (what is the correct answer mode). I told her no and she said that Mr. Han wanted to take Virginia and me to dinner. She said that I would need to get Virginia. I asked if I should get dressed and she told me probably (a typical response). I hung up the phone, raced into the shower, and started shampooing my hair when the doorbell rang. This could not have been more than 3 minutes after I had hung up the phone. Fortunately, I have a sliding "what’s the secret password" type of peephole, which I used to tell Mr. Han I was in the shower and that by the time he got Virginia, I would be ready. That was the fastest shower I have ever taken. I managed to toss on a skirt and heels to go with my wet ponytail.
I informed Virginia her shirt was off a button. She was caught off-guard, so she raced to change her shirt in the bedroom. Coincidentally, her drapes were open while Mr. Han had gone out to the balcony to spit. I told her I was amazed I had I gotten put together so quickly.
We went to a very nice restaurant at the tobacco factory, which also has the second-best hotel. It overlooks a pond with a gazebo. We dined with five school officials and were later joined by the head of the police department. They have a distinct fondness for the terms “cheers” and “bottoms up.” Again, not being drinkers, we had more than we would normally have. One of the men opened a box of cigarettes and passed out packs to everyone as gifts. Our seats at the table were the only ones with large red placemats, knife, fork, and spoon. I chose to eat with chopsticks but gladly accepted Virginia serving me, as well as herself, with her spoon.
I was tired of drinking and noticed that everyone seemed to be in deep discussion, so I dumped my wine into my bowl with the food I was leaving behind. The headmaster saw me do it. I was so embarrassed. I did learn that red wine is obvious, no matter how much food you have left in your bowl.
Mr. Han gave us doggie bags of the vegetarian dishes and headed out to the parking lot. Instead of returning in the car in which we came, we wound up riding in the back of the POLICE CAR with the very man who had been dining and enjoying "cheers" with us. Moral of this story: If you see foreigners in the back of a police car, do not assume they have done anything illegal. Although the look when I wasted that wine...
Being new to living in China, a wonderful woman whose name is Zheng is helping me with learning how to work my apartment’s appliances and finding items in the grocery store among other things. Zheng came by to let Virginia, another newcomer, and I know…Read More
Being new to living in China, a wonderful woman whose name is Zheng is helping me with learning how to work my apartment’s appliances and finding items in the grocery store among other things.
Zheng came by to let Virginia, another newcomer, and I know that she was going to the Traditional Chinese Hospital the next day and wanted to know if we wanted come. We eagerly said yes. We thought she was going because of the fall she suffered from her motorbike the previous day, but she said she occasionally had trouble with her neck due to all the sitting she does.
Virginia and I witnessed a man having acupuncture needles in him while waiting. Although it was strange for us to be in this room with a stranger, apparently it was acceptable. It would not be in the United States. Next, we went into the room where Zheng was on a table with a device around her chin and neck to stretch the neck muscles. After 30 minutes, she sat in a chair and was given an intense neck massage. She asked me if I wanted to do it and I said sure. I lay down on the table and was given a back massage.
We returned to the room where we had been in originally and I was directed to lay face down. As they began preparing me by pulling up the back of my shirt and pant legs, I realized that Zheng was not on the other table. It was then that I realized I was going to have acupuncture, but she wasn’t. She told me she was afraid of needles. Great, now all three of us were laughing.
Here I was, one of two Americans here, having acupuncture while a local was afraid. I received a dozen needles in my backside, including a couple along the ankles and knee connected to an electrical pulse for 30 minutes. Afterwards, bell-shaped jars placed on my back sucked out the air. This “cupping" is another treatment used. The sight of my skin sucked into jars made Virginia laugh as well as the fact that I was exposing the upper portion of my fanny. You have to understand that more than one patient could be in the same room at the same time. Privacy becomes a total non-issue when in the hospital.
Next, while laying face up they pulled and rotated my legs. At one point, the doctor pulled at both of my ankles and my body came off the table. We ALL laughed. It was amazing to think that this doctor could manipulate my entire body weight with just his hands grasping onto my ankles. Zheng asked if I would do it again.
Written by garymarsh6 on 01 Oct, 2009
On the bus from Wuhan to Yin chang we had to drive along the uneven motorways. Being the youngest on the tour we always ended up at the back of the bus with another couple just a wee bit older than us. All the oldies…Read More
On the bus from Wuhan to Yin chang we had to drive along the uneven motorways. Being the youngest on the tour we always ended up at the back of the bus with another couple just a wee bit older than us. All the oldies used to rush to get 'their' seats at the front of the coach and by jove if you happened to sit there they would make it so uncomfortable for you burning eyes at you all day long. We didnt mind it was better at the back you got to see a whole lot more. We made up nick names for all the people on the bus. The couple I am referring to on this trip were Hansel and Gretal both in their seventies.The chinese motorways are not particularly good especially when you are passing a bridge as there always seemed to be a big bump when you got to the bridge.Bombing down the motorway I saw we were approaching a bridge and prepared myself for the bump. All the oldies at the front of the coach were nodding off with their chins on their chests and looked a bit like those nodding dogs you see in the back of the car. we hit the bump at some speed and the bus jolted and Hansels teeth shot out and rolled down the aisle of the bus.I was howling with laughter to see the sight of them trying to retrieve his teeth and once he had them wiped them on his jumper and popped them back in. I was in tears and beside myself with laughter as it was hilarious to see such a comical sight. The best tip I could give in these circumstances is to make sure you have a good dollop of Polygrip on your teeth if you ever travel on a bus in China. Close