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Woo-hoo for Wuhan



Author: Yttrium Right now I am too tired to even think of a proper blog title. China sort of kills my ability to form flowing sentences, and all blog posts now will become more like progress reports more than anything.

The weather now in Wuhan is perfect. While everyone of you are still baking in the Singaporean heat, I am chilling with a jacket in the 20degrees Wuhan temperature. It's cool enough for one to put on your fashionable winter wear, while not freezing or windy till you start shivering, which is a very un-fashionista thing to do. The sky was overcast the whole day, yet without any rain, so I barely broke a sweat.

Which means I can rewear my whole set of clothes whee! Laundry is so expensive in China I am now quite the pro at hand-washing my clothes, though I have also been re-wearing my clothes a lot more often, underwear included. As long as it doesn't stink too bad, it shall be deemed rewearable. 2 years of army didn't teach me to handwash my clothes, but 2 days in a place with sky-high laundry prices did.

Took the high-speed railway from Nanchang to Wuhan, and China's rail system has indeed developed tremendously well. The CSR's are such a joy to seat, with clean new cabins and nicely dressed attendants, AND it travels at an average speed of 300 km/h, which means what would be a horrible overnight bus ride in Laos is now a 2 hour train ride here in China.

Walked around Wuhan for a bit and along the Yangtze, and it really is hard to not be impressed by how China is really pushing for liveable urban cities. One will definitely be struck by how there are windmills and solar panels stuck on every lamp post, and how there are beautiful community parks built along the whole river bank, installed with the newest exercise machines for the public's use.

/Wuhan University Rooftops are now converted into beautiful gardens for the residents to enjoy (something which Singapore has yet to do, very tragically) and wheel-chair access can be found at every shopping centres and tourist attractions. While corruption and poverty is still pretty common in China, one really cannot deny the work put in by the Communist Party into improving the quality of life of its urban-dwellers, and to match up with the global cities of the world today. They really are learning, and learning fast.

However, it must be said the people's 素质 definitely still need much improvement. Some guy just spit on the public bus in full view of everyone just now. So amidst all the passengers on the bus, there lay a blob of saliva on the ground, enjoying its spotlight and undivided attention from everyone on the bus.

Went to the 黄鹤楼, or Yellow Crane Tower, which is arguably Wuhan's biggest tourist attraction and de facto logo. 黄鹤楼 is one of China's 四大名楼,the other three being 岳阳楼in Yueyang in Hunan、滕王阁 in Nanchang and 鹳雀楼 in Yongji in Shanxi. Out of the 4, I've previously been to 滕王阁, though I really can't tell the difference between the two towers I've been to. These towers are famous not only because of their historical value, but also because of their literary value. All of these temples have had famous poets wax lyricals about it, thus propelling them to instant fame. Most of them have been rebuilt though, so one shouldn't be surprised to find lifts in both 黄鹤楼 and 滕王阁. 黄鹤楼 was naturally filled with Chinese tourists, and I simply love how Chinese tour guides just recite their memorised script devoid of any feeling or emotions whatsoever. As compared to Western tour guides, who will behave as if they are telling a story and have every tour be slightly different, Chinese tour guides just stare into space and recite their speech robotically into their shoulder-microphone.

There's a certain amusement in watching the tour guides mindlessly just regurgitating everything, from excerpt of poems to historical anecdotes to over-the-top descriptions. The funniest parts are when the words are not even commonly used words or descriptions, but the tour guides just say it as if they are everyday languages, with their eyes blankly transfixed on a certain point of non-interest (say a rock or a plant). They never ever look you in the eye because it'll break their concentration, and thus their flow of words.

Right now I'm in another budget hotel chain (not 7 Days Inn, this one is Jinjiang), and I am in love with all these budget hotel chains. In recent years, there has been this big boom in budget hotel chains, and they have proliferated like mushrooms on a rotting log. The rooms are cheap, the facilities are basic, but they are all functional. They all have tv, internet broadband, clean showers, a/c and big comfy beds. Yeah they are more expensive than Indochinese hotels, but at least you know you are getting a basic level of comfort. No faulty tv, no dirty beds, no yellowish bathtubs. Just very practical comfortable rooms.

/Sunset of East Lake

/Tec Center

Of course, someone will criticise these hotels as "lacking in personality" or "rooms are functional in decor", but I don't really give a damn about personality or flavour when I have an avant-garde painting on the wall but the tv doesn't work. I much prefer predictability in my hotel rooms. Very strangely though, so far I have had 8 namecards slipped under my door promoting massages by "school girls" and "white-collar workers". White-collar workers lol... can you imagine some female CEO coming to give you a massage. Olivia Lum haha.

Anyway Tudou and Youku loads so fast here one whole episode of Inkigayo was done in like... 10 minutes? China also has excellent street food and bubble tea, and I just had a damn nice cup of matcha with dark chocolate OOOOH. Ah I love being in Chin, surrounded by all these Chinese and mandarin-ness. I realize I love speaking Mandarin. :)

Tomorrow I shall visit a few more temples in Wuhan, maybe the Hubei Provincial Museum, and also the Wuhan zoo. So far I've been visiting zoos in the Chinese cities I've went to, and even though they really all do look alike, I still love going to them. I just like watching animals in general.

Guangzhou Zoo was not bad really, and they really do put effort into their exhibits and signages. However, Chinese zoos seem to have this prelidiction of putting their large cats in cages. Maybe it's from a fear that they'll jump out of open enclosures, but so far every Chinese zoo I've went to feature tigers and lions being kept in barren cages with metal bars.

This led to quite an absurb situation in the Guangzhou zoo, where random animals like the Indian blackbuck get 4 enclosures worth of space, and the Lesser Panda (not even Giant) get this huge-ass nicely decorated beautifully vegetated lush enclosure clearly too big for only the 4 of them, while the king of the forest the LION gets this small concrete enclosure with only 1 animal in each, barely big enough for them to roam around.

Another thing I love about China is its big supermarket, like Walmart and Carrefour. There's just something about entering them that makes me feel "yes I'm in China". I think it's from the Shenyang times, when the few of us would go prowl around in supermarkets and stock up on Lays and fruit juice drinks. Still remembering influencing Khee Xuan and Jeffrey to buy the huge-ass bottle of fruit juice drinks coz it was simply too damn nice. Chinese variety shows however, have made a turn for the worst. I still remember the past few times I was in China now. Every weekend at 9.30 pm, Jiangsu Channel has this dating show called Fei1 Cheng2 Wu4 Rao3 which is supposedly the most-watched variety show in China now. 20 girls surround 1 guy, who enters and introduces himself. Then the girls throw questions at him, while throwing in an insult or two, before hoping to find a match at the end of the show. I don't know where's the joy in watching this kind of show, but apparently the Chinese do. Hunan Channel has the same thing too, except it's 20 guys, with 1 girl thrown into the centre.

/Tiny Market on the street

Then last night on Qinghai channel, it saw China's own version of the Jerry Springer show. This man divorced his wife and married a younger girl, so the show invited the man, the ex-wife, the younger girl AND the younger girl's ex-boyfriend to come to the show to argue everything out. There was a panel of 3 "relationship experts" who were supposed to provide a resolution for the whole debacle, but all I seem the doing is adding fuel to the flame. It was just unabashed cheap thrills, with plenty of crying and shouting thrown in. A few years ago, this would all be unheard of in China, but I guess Chinese society has evolved quite a bit. Class is out, crass is in. Finally, what really makes me wonder is why many Westerners have this fear of travelling in China. Maybe they foresee major language problems, though what I really think is the reason is that there are no good parties and beaches in China, and the locals don't suck up to them like the Indochinese do. There I said it. Bye.


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