Our intention with Wuhan was to go there for the soul purpose of getting a boat to Shanghai. By the time our train ticket was booked we had realised that it would be tricky, expensive and that the better Yangtze views were in the opposite direction. So by the time we arrived at our hostel, which was quite expensive, we were in a city which didn’t seem to have much going on, feeling under the weather and in a useless hostel which didn’t even provide an area map, ticket booking… or western toilets.
so the first day we had to go out and find a ticket booking agent and managed to sort the train tickets,with this off our mind and the knowledge that not even the hostel staff could understand Wuhan busses we had no option but to wander around. The street scene in Wuhan was the most vibrant I’ve seen so far (with the exception of there not really being much street food). We strolled along the side of a lake and found some windy bridge pathways over an expanse of lotus flowers and a large outdoor swimming pool. When back on land we came upon an open workshop creating large fantastical displays for carnivals and parades.
Just by the side of the main working area was a square which had lots of people milling about, some women cracking whips as they spin their oversized spinning tops and some kite flyers flying their kite up in the distance. As night drew in we joined the selection of people who were hanging out on the stadium seating and the lights turned on their lights, any new launches were right above our heads. Along with the human activity there were also more bats than I’d ever seen, walking along the boardwalk you were sure you were going to get a bat crash right into you. On the short walk back to the hostel we came upon two other sub groups, one in the subway tunnel. About five small groups of four people were dressed in sports gear and playing a form of ‘keepy uppy’ with a weighted shuttlecock. They seemed to be taking it quite seriously judging by the outfits and evidence of warm up stretches. Just outside the subway was a large group of middle aged women doing their thai chi dance to music. All in all one of the best walks I’ve ever had.
The next day we had set off with the intent to find the Yellow Crane Tower but our lack of judgement of scale and direction of the map left us aware it was an impossible fete. Instead we attempted to walk to the Yangtze, just for a look. After starting out along a ring road we decided the green strip on the map looked more appealing and walked up a large amount of stairs to find a ticket office. After deciding that 15RMB was a reasonable price to pay to take a scenic route we started along our way to what turned out to be quite a significant complex.
We spent about three hours in the mountain park and revelled in its strangeness and tranquillity. It turned out that everything in the park was abandoned and closed down and the strange sense that it was now a ghost of the thriving tourist attraction it had been maybe 15 years ago. There was a disused cable cart and bungee jump and a plethora of deserted stalls and curio shops, with just one person still selling gifts in their stall surrounded by tame stray dogs. There was an exceptionally eerie sense about the place but it was strangely comforting compared to the rest of the shiny modernity in China. At the top of the hill was a large ‘panorama gallery’ which overlooks the different territories of Wuhan as a memorial of the war some 1800 years previously. The gallery write up outside listed itsef as having internationally significant pieces of work including an 18m high panoramic painting, but now the doors are chained but a sneaky look through the gap reveals there are still pictures and sculptures inside. It is so rare to find something so intriguing.