November 16, 2006

Wuhan and Hefei

To view all 29 photos of Wuhan and Hefei, press HERE for a slideshow.

Betty and Vittoria
The Bells of Wuhan

I thought that I should say a bit more about Wuhan. Vittoria, Betty and I arrived by bus from Yichang in Saturday afternoon. We checked out one hotel that did not meet the standards of Betty and Vittoria. I had seen a dead rat on the sidewalk in front of this hotel. We walked to Xinhuaxia Hotel on Xinhua Lu, some 500 meters or so away and it seemed better. We bargained a bit and took rooms for $12 and $15 a night. Betty and I actually got very big room. There is a very nice restaurant just around the corner, where the food was really excellent and inexpensive, too. Tired from the Yangzi boat, we retired early.

And so, here is the story of the rat:
I knew that there were animals in the building, because I heard them scurry across the ceiling joists. I do not think Betty heard them. In the night I heard them making noises that sounded like children fighting. The sounds seemed to come from the gas heater that was in our room. I must be thick skinned because it did not seem to bother me. That is until they knocked a bag to the floor. I got up and told Betty to turn on the lights. They had pulled some orange peels out and dragged a package of crackers out of the bag. Of course, the floor attendant did not understand what I was talking about. All the noise we were making must have disturbed the little critters, because they did not come back.
In the morning, I inspected the area around the heater. There is a pipe that runs from the wall to the heater. I could see the hole where our friendly little rodents emerged. I drew a picture of a rat and a rat hole and showed it to the floor attendant. They seemed to be as upset as Betty and moved us to a much smaller double room that seemed just fine.

As I said in my previous entry, we went to the Hankou pedestrian mall in the morning and a museum in the afternoon. Zhao Fei, who we met on the boat, came to our hotel in the early evening with his friend Diana. We ate at the same restaurant and the food was even better. It was great to enjoy a good dinner with Zhao and Diana. We retired about ten. I slept great until 6:30 in the morning. Suddenly, I heard the blaring of a public address system. I stormed out of my room and started yelling at the attendant about the noise. I am sure that she only understood my gestures. Still I was fuming, and further sleep was impossible with all the noise. I got dressed and looked for the source. On the floor below ours there was some sort of meeting going on. Based on the style and sing, it was probably some born-again Christian preaching.
I had it out with the manager again. The day before, I told him that he had to kill the RAT. Then I told him that he had to stop the morning sound blast. His solution was to move us again.

The next day had little or no drama. The Provincial Museum was fabulous. We saw an unbelievable set of 65 bells that is more than 2400 years old. They were discovered about 30 years. It took years to figure out how they were made. Now performers play a set of replicas at the museum. After the museum, the only drama of the day came when the three of us wanted to go into the park near the museum. There is a big lake next to the park. We got into a tiff with at the entrance when they demanded that we pay about $4 each to enter. Pay public parks in the People Republic seems to be far too common. We fought with them, as they let others enter without ticket. Finally, we got the senior citizen discount and enter for $2 each. Still, this sort of policy sucks. The park was almost empty, which was a pity because it is so beautiful. We took a motorboat across the lake and grabbed a bus back into town. So it was a long and fairly adventuresome day. The night was less eventful than the previous two. We went back to the same restaurant. It would have been hard not to go back there, as they had some of the best food we have eaten here and the staff was so friendly and welcoming. After dinner, we drank a bottle of Chinese red wine. It was OK but not all that good.

The Hefei Market
Eels, Crabs, Fish and Chickens

Tuesday, 14 October:
We left our hotel about nine in the morning. We got our tickets and boarded our bus less that half-an-hour later. Damn if the bus did not work for us. It had bunks that only a little man or woman might enjoy lying in a half-prone position. I had to start yelling again. The Chinese to a lot of yelling and they seem to understand it. Betty and I got off the bus, but had to wait two hours before a bus with normal seats would take passengers to Hefei. The only problem with the bus is that it had to stop at two or three more bus stations in the Wuhan area. Each took some time to arrive at and then we had to wait. At only one did more passengers board. After almost two hours of this jockeying around did we get off on the tollway. The ride was just fine. It took us six hour to cover the 470 kilometers to Hefei.

The Baohe Park and Town Moat

You can see the most impressive places in Hefei in less than one day. Unfortunately the museum does like visitors. It was only open for a few hours in the morning and again in the late afternoon. So we missed it. We visited two markets. I love to see all the fruit and vegetables. There is usually fish, crabs, eel, sometimes snails, and poultry and meats for sale too. There take a look at the photos to see what I am talking about. We visited one temple. They collect a fee every time you enter one in China. I am glad the Catholics don't do that in Europe. The park along the moat in the afternoon was great. It was peaceful and beautiful. Feng-shui has a very calming effect on people. As we finished our walk along the Baohe Park, we came to a part of the moat parkway where there we hundreds of mostly older people enjoying the last rays of sun. We saw two couples dancing. We saw an opera scene preformed by marvels singers in full costume. You have to pinch yourself when you are in such a place, because it is really hard to believe it exists. I don't think that Hefei gets many tourists. It was clear from the stares that people found Betty and I interesting. As we would say 'hello' or 'ni hou,' the stares usually turned into broad smiles.

Posted by bill at November 16, 2006 04:48 PM

Thanks for the blogs. It has been a great pleasure to read them, as always. Our mutual Finnish friend, whom we both met in Buenos Aires, was just a few days ago visiting us and told that she had met you shortly in China. Small world, isn't it? Funny but your stories start to make China sound like Argentina... Guess the honeymoon period with the country is now over. For us it usually takes a bit longer but our divorce is way more harsh. If you check our Thailand blog at you get the point.

Hugs and love,

P‰ivi & Santeri

Posted by: Päive & Santeri at November 25, 2006 01:53 AM

The article is the best one I have read.You are so brave to travel a country without knowing the languge.I can't do that.You looking the city is
different from me.And I can see our country in another eye.I wish you have a good time in China
though sometime you have some trouble.

Posted by: Chen Yaopio at November 26, 2006 09:02 PM