Wednesday, 10 August 2011


We began our journey with an uneventful flight from Brisbane to Melbourne. Once in Melbourne, we lined up to checkin for our China Southern flight to Guangzhou and then onto Wuhan.

A woman at the head of the line was attempting to take a large amount of long life milk on the flight. The milk had begun to leak from one of the cartons and was spilling out all over the floor and on the person’s other luggage. Eventually it was cleaned up, not sure what happened to the milk.

We finally got to the check in counter, but our attendant began to get involved with the milk people. Apparently, they were also trying to travel with a box of fish packed in ice, but the ice in the box was over the allowable limit. The officials were starting to open the box, but we were checked in and then on our way, and so missed the resolution.

The overnight China Southern flight was very roomy and there was no problem sleeping. Strangely, there was no video entertainment for such a long flight, but plenty of meals.

Day One - Arrive in Wuhan

In the morning, we had a short flight from Guangzhou to Wuhan.

Drinks in Guangzhou domestic transfer lounge

Wuhan is the most populous city in central China with a population of around 10 million and is one of twenty or so "middle-tier" cities. The city lies at the intersection between the Yangtze and Han rivers which divides the city into three main areas. The area around Wuhan was settled more than 3000 years ago and in recent centuries has become a major domestic transportation hub.

We caught a taxi from the airport and met up with F1+H at their work. We went back to their hotel, I mean house, for a brief rest stop before heading off to a nearby restaurant for lunch. Alas, I forgot to bring the camera, but the food was good!

After lunch, F1+H went back to work and we set off on foot, out into the heat, to the nearby large shopping mall which was called "Shopping Mall". I wandered around for a few hours while C went to get her hair done.

Later, we went out with F1+H for Korean barbecue (no photos!). For those that don't know, Korean barbecue consists of lots of different marinated raw meats that you cook on a hot plate in front of you, as well as several tasty side dishes. Always delicious!

Day Two - Liyuan Park

We had breakfast in a place opposite Shopping Mall. Lots of people were eating there and the prices were cheap.

Breakfast in Wuhan

Our tourist stop for the day was Liyuan Park, which is a famous park situated on East Lake, the largest urban lake in China. Wuhan University sits atop a hill in the same area, well known for its scenic location. The park was green and lush, thanks to the subtropical climate.

Inside Liyuan park

Despite the sticky heat, we walked around for a few hours. We explored winding forest paths to discover pagodas and statues scattered around the park. Unfortunately, the views over the lake to the surrounding hills and the city were obscured by morning mist. Often we questioned our decision to be there on such a hot day when we would arrive hot and extremely sweaty at the top of a hill.

Pagoda in Liyuan park

The statues and monuments appeared to the naive mind to be ancient relics from a noble past, however a sign gave the game away and pretty much everything had been built within the last 25 years.

"Ancient" statues

"Ancient" monuments

At the far end of the park there was a botanical garden section and a sea of pink lotuses spread out over a large lake.

Field of pink lotuses in Liyuan park

Later on, we went with F1+H for a midnight dinner at a laid back restaurant. Again, I forgot the camera, but we eat frog on a stick and some not properly cleaned (my fault!) river prawns which were to haunt me over the next couple of days.

Day Three - Buying glasses, Yellow Crane Tower

In the morning, we took a taxi to a dodgier end of town. We were on a quest to get cheap glasses for C, and there was one particular shop we had to find. It was during this quest that I began to feel the effects of the river prawns from the night before. Coupled with the heat, noise and alien atmosphere, the morning turned into a struggle (for me!). In the end C bought three pairs for the normal price of probably one pair and the mission was a success.

Yellow Crane Tower

As our tourist stop, we visited Yellow Crane Tower, one of the Four Great Towers of China. We wandered around the surrounding gardens and climbed the tower which had good views of the Yangtze river and the city.

Artwork depicting the tower's name

The tower was originally built in 223 AD, and had been made famous in several old poems, well before the modern age covered the land in skyscrapers and roads. The structure that now stands there had been rebuilt recently (1981) like so many ancient places.

View of Wuhan and the river from Yellow Crane Tower

View of Wuhan and the tower bell from Yellow Crane Tower

Finding a taxi home proved harder than anticipated. After following several speculative clues we found ourselves on a very taxi unfriendly street but still competing with other people lined up along the road all looking for taxis. Surrounded by construction work, stuck out in the open in the heat and humidity, dehydrated from sweating and stomach sickness, I fell back on the one super power I possess as a westerner in China, attracting attention. After almost 30 minutes of waiting, walking and hailing, we eventually got a taxi and made our way home.

After an exhausting day, I collapsed in bed. Our plan for the evening was to go out on a river cruise with F1 and H and indulge in a buffet. Eating and being on a boat were the last things my stomach needed, but I mentally resolved myself to go through with it.

As fate would have it, F1 never came home from work, we assumed she had to work late, and so we missed the cruise. Or so we thought. What actually happened is that F1 had come home from work but we hadn't heard her knocking at the door. H was working late, and she hadn't brought her key, and we didn't have a phone. Eventually she gave up and went back to work to wait for H to finish.

Onto Guangzhou

We said goodbye to our lovely hosts F1+H, who dropped us off at the high-speed train station. There was some trepidation at catching the high speed train as only a few weeks previously, there had been a serious crash on a different part of the line that had garnered world wide attention.

High speed train station in Wuhan

As a safety compromise the high speed trains had been universally slowed down. Our train which normally would have been travelling at 350km/h was now at a measly 300km/h. The trip to Guangzhou went smoothly, spending a few hours watching the countryside shoot by.

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