Posts Tagged With: Wuhan City

WUHAN CITY

Correction. I’m working from my hand written journal from 2006, often writing during lunch or on the bus, or catching up at the end of the day. I identified a stop at a tourist center with pit toilets as the “new”  Wuhan City. It was not.

Our visit to the farmer was from the long bus ride  on the way to this 350,000 year old  Wuhan City.   More than eight million people live in Wuhan, about  the population of our state of Delaware. We see western imports,  Mc Donalds, KFC, Michelin Tires. People are more affluent, they drive Fords. Wuhan is one of the furnace cities, very hot  and humid as well.  Vicki tells us there is corruption here, the roads have very poor quality cement.  People sell knockoff designer goods even though they face big fines. We arrive in time to catch the Wuhan History Museum and a dinner show. In 1978, an ancient tomb was discovered from 430 BC., the remains of the Marquis Teng.

Huge timbers from the tomb are still in incredibly good shape. Inside with the Marquis was the remains of 13 concubines and an array of musical instruments, zithers, bells with two tones, bronze utensils, flutes, drums and whistles.

The bells are set up in a structure that allowed the musician to play them while standing.

The evening show featured a concert on a replica of those bells on which they played Ode to Joy by Beethoven. Pretty sophisticated bells.

In the morning at the airport, we  find out we are collectively overweight. Vicky bribes the officials and they let us on. She warns us that we will pass through one airport on this trip where bribery won’t work.  I report my damaged suitcase and the officials there will not fill out the form because when they asked the color of my suitcase I told them beige plaid. They do not have the color beige nor plaid on their form. It was more hassle dealing with it than the suitcase was worth. Vicki says they are afraid for their jobs if they make waves or do any little thing wrong.

The long flight to Jiliang  (lee-john) through several time zones puts us in the city at 10 pm.  The hotel held the buffet dinner for us. We taste fried milk and black rice, a wonderful sweet desert.

Our hotel is right in the middle of “Old Town”  a UNESCO site.  Hotel windows have no glass, the beds are hard wood with light padding and warm woolen covers.   You can hear people in the next room talking in a normal tone of voice. Music and laughter floats across the moat but we are tired and sleep soundly in the fresh mountain air.  The next morning we wake up to this view of the town across the moat. Lijiang  is only 250 miles from the Tibetan border and is populated by the minoirty Naxi, (Nah-shee)  people.

After breakfast we visit the Naxi Dongba Museum. The Naxi are known for their textiles. Their language was originally pictorial and an English Anthropologist saved their language from extinction.  The Naxi are known for their ability to stick their hands in the fire and in boiling oil. (Not a demonstration we witnessed.)  Apparently, an ability similar to fire walkers.

A tattooed Naxi woman weaving. This is a picture  from a picture in the museum.  We enjoy the history but prefer to get out and look around town.

This young vendor is making dough figures and stamps for sealing letters with wax.

Michal and I find a talented calligrapher and Vicky instructs him what she wants written on her piece of art. We will stay in Lijiang for a week and travel to nearby Naxi villages.

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CRUISE THE YANGTZE RIVER

Our first night aboard our Victoria Cruise Ship, we were given a champagne reception and attended a wonderful fashion show after dinner.

We think of  them as costumes, but we are reminded that each garment was the normal attire for Chinese citizens of the aristocracy during the eleven Dynasties represented.

The various models danced and sang period pieces from the particular dynasty they represented.

Our own puritan ancestors were pretty stodgy dudes by comparison. Learning about the various periods as the colorful fashion show proceeded, via a narrator with impeccable English…wow!  What a gig!

The ship carries us upstream from Chongqing (pronounced shawn-keen) to Yichan, (e-shan.) There is a certain amount of dead time aboard a cruise and we have tai chi lessons after breakfast and view an acupuncture demonstration as we float along. Then, we get our first view of a sampan. Not the old type of sampan but a modern one with a motor.

The Yangtze is a highway moving raw materials to various cities over hundreds of miles.

The Chinese call this Bye-Bye Bridge, because it will soon be underwater.  I wanted to see the famous river and the three gorges before they were inundated by water from the dam.

Families here have farmed the steep sides of the Yangtze for hundred’s of years. They don’t understand why the government is flooding them out and forcing them to evacuate from all they’ve ever known. They have never had electricity and they must sacrifice for the people who will benefit from the electricity this dam will produce.

This farmer could at one time walk to his neighbor’s farm. Then he could boat to his neighbor’s farm. Now his neighbor is underwater and his own buildings are partially flooded. Many older people hate it and hang on to all they’ve ever known for as long as they can.  One Chinese worker aboard ship loves it.  She has a new apartment in Wuhan  (oohan) City where she has more space. She now lives with three people in 120 square meters. In her old house she lived with an extended  family of eight in 400 square meters. She has electricity and, she can own her apartment.

These caves, once unreachable from the river , were the refuge of Japanese soldiers during WWII. They escaped to these caves and lived for years before they were discovered. Now, our guide marvels that you can actually see into them.  There are ancient bodies buried in some of the caves from an unknown past as well.

The steep canyon still has some beauty left and I’m grateful to have had a chance to see it before it disappears. To their credit, the Chinese government has taken extensive pictures of the canyon before the flooding began so people can see what it was once like.

As you look up into the clouds, its hard to imagine that most of this beautiful canyon will be underwater very soon.

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