More on Wuhan
Like I wrote earlier, we’ve decided to stay in Wuhan instead of going to Guilin as earlier planned. There’s not much to do here unlike Beijing. That’s not to say that Wuhan is any less interesting. Everything in China fascinates me; be it the people or their culture. I’ve discovered that Chinese men are so much more well-behaved than their Indian counterparts. In fact, they’re so shy that the boy and girl need to be introduced by mutual friends before they start going steady. The boy does not approach the girl directly! Also, it is the guy who needs to pay for everything on a date or even the girl’s shopping. He even has to hold her bag while walking! So picture this: a couple is walking. The girl has latched on to one arm of the boy and he is holding the girl’s bag with the free hand. The girl points to anything she wants and the guy is compelled to buy it. Wow!
Anyhow, getting on with my travel stories, we’d gone to the Yellow Crane , the Wuhan zoo and Moshan, the botanical garden. The zoo was a big downer and I regret ever going there. I had gone to see the Giant Panda, which I think died because there was one stuffed panda in its place! The place was more like a circus. To add to that, there were dogs: dalmatians, cocker Spaniels and German shepherds stuffed inside cages. Even more horrifying was to see a stray dog inside the lioness’ cage, both sitting in total nonchalance of each other’s presence. Gone was the majesty of the King (rather Queen) of the Jungle! It was distressing to say the least.
The yellow crane tower was beautiful! It was one of the recommended places to visit by China Travel Guide. Unfortunately, like most places in China, the significance of a monument and its description in English is scant if not totally absent.
The only thing I know of the place was that it became famous due to poems written on it during the Tang Dynasty. This was the first time I had come across a name other than the usual Ming and Qing dynasties dominating almost the entire architecture in Beijing. The tower has five floors and looks the same from all directions. Even though the entire complex is named after the tower, there’s much to see. There’s an enormous bronze bell and the upper floors of the tower provide a great view of the place. We however missed the musical performance of classical instruments that is held in the premises.
Moshan or Mo Hill, overlooking the East lake, was a fun place to be in. However its so huge that it’s not possible to cover the entire thing in one day. We walked in the direction of the Chu culture theme park. The Chu market was passable. The Chu Heaven Platform is some kind of Chu dynasty museum. They even have a short musical performance where the performers wear classical chu costumes. The music was pleasant with the Guzheng lending an unmistakable ancient Chinese era feel to the whole experience.
I rode on a tandem bicycle for the first time. I’ve always wanted to ride on one ever since I read about it in Archies’ as a kid. I also had a go at the toboggan ride from Chu Heaven Platform. The Chinese know how to make money! They even charge you to go up by the toboggan. I mean isn’t it obvious that if one goes up for the ride, one would definitely want to come down sliding or whats the big idea of taking the toboggan?
We were invited for dinner to Chicony by Nadeem, a Pakistani friend of Panu. The food was awesome. In fact , I’ve realized that the Chinese breads are a lot like Indian naans and paranthas. Just the other day, we had naan at a street side stall. It looked the same as the Indian one, just that it was sweet. At Chicony, we had this fish which looked like it had been turned inside out and is called songziyu or pine nut fish. We’ve been following http://www.howtoorderchinesefood.com/ like bible for ordering food and this calls it the inside-out fish and we’ve started calling it the same. The Chinese do not eat lamb generally since they mostly prefer beef and pork. But this was a Muslim restaurant, and it had mutton instead of pork. I’ve also become a great fan of the green tea which takes some time in getting used to. Had without any milk or sugar, the taste is rather ‘grassy’, for want of a better word. But its a healthier alternative to the usual black tea. I think the Chinese really need the antioxidants present in the tea to counter the endless smoking they do. Sometimes I think this habit is a hangover of their opium addiction era.