I was coming back from the bakery (yes, even in China I’m addicted to bakeries!) at night when I hear someone calling “teacher, teacher!” I didn’t slow down but eventually turned around. Yes, the man was calling me.
“Sorry, how do I get to…” he started saying, in Mandarin. Then he looked at me and stopped. “My, you’re a foreigner!” he said, again in Chinese. “You won’t know how to get to the Eastern gate!”
“Actually, I do,” I replied in Chinese. “Go down this road and turn left. It’s a five-minute walk.”
I laughed all the way back to the hotel. I don’t usually give directions in Chinese, but I was coming from the Eastern gate, so I knew the way. Poor guy, he found the only Westerner in Wuhan to ask for directions—you should have seen the look on his face, he was genuinely shocked!
After a few days in Wuhan, we finally crossed the Yangzi River and took the subway all the way to Hukou, another city that is now part of Wuhan. It’s a bit more modern and fancier than Wuchang, and it’s pretty scenic by the Yangzi. It actually reminds me of the Bund in Shanghai.
We walked along the pedestrian avenue, dotted with flagship stores, and then went to the small side streets, where all the eateries are.
Mao famously swam across the Yangzi River, and monuments to the glory of the great chairman celebrate his swimming skills (I hope for his sake that the river was less polluted at the time…).
In Hankou, we met more family members, so many that I lost track of who was who. We had fancy dinners, and fancy lunches, Mark was given more “red envelopes” with money (this kid made more money than me this month!).
It was interesting for me to visit Chinese apartments, I had always wondered how big they were, how modern, etc. Based on what I saw, they are very similar to French apartments—small, with all the modern amenities (toilets, bathtub or shower, etc.) but old plumbing and wiring. Chinese seem to pride themselves on living in spotless places, but the common areas, i.e. the staircase, the lobby, etc., are dirty because no one cares about it.