25: Happy Birthday!

Birthday's are important to me, it's a celebration of another year that I have graced this planet with my amazing presence! Oh yes, that's the gods honest truth! Falling on a weekend this time around I wanted my 25th birthday in Wuhan, China to be one to remember for all the right reasons. Getting my drink on had to be done but spending time with friends was just amazing! 

Friday came around like it usually does but I felt like having some birthday pre-drinks before my official birthday on the 14th of November happened. Choosing Guanggu's own Captain Jack's was a no-brainer for it's the only place this side of the Yangtze River to serve a draft pint of beer. Located on Guanggu Street, Captain Jack's is different compared to the other nightspots in my area. Living nearby Captain Jack's made it easy for me to leave that week of work behind me the night before my birthday without any planning. Minding my own business I enjoyed my drinks to then realise one of my former colleagues from Meten English Guanggu had walked in the bar, I wondered where the party was at? My curiousity caved in, I went to the first floor seating to find Brett, one of the Meten English teachers who was to be my regular drinking mate. We chimed in my birthday with a few more pints! I was only getting started!

I had planned before changing jobs and visas to take a trip out of Wuhan for my birthday weekend but certain events had changed that, I was spending a birthday in China so for that I could recognise that Wuhan had a plan for me. I went to Captain Jack's the first time with Brett, my former colleague in July of 2015 after my first experience at KTV, so I was familiar with this local Guanggu pub. Meeting my former Meteners was great because we were able to catch up in a chilled environment, time had passed and I wasn't bitter about not working for my previous teaching employer. Thinking about life it doesn't feel real that I'm in China at all, so for me to spend my 25th birthday here was amazing! How much does a pint cost? When converted back to British Pounds it's about £2.50 for a pint of Carlsberg at Captain Jacks. Yes, I began my 25th birthday in good spirits, with beer on tap and conversation that sounded good to me while I was at Captain Jack's, Guanggu. TGIF Wuhan!

Happy Birthday to me! Turning 25 felt good, I was the man with a plan! I headed for the Wuhan Metro to take me to Tanhualin for some coffee and cake. I had been looking to visit Tanhualin since I saw it on a map of Wuhan's Wuchang district. Dubbed a new hipster hangout in this Central Chinese city my birthday seemed like the perfect excuse to visit. Leaving the crazy and construction of Optics Valley gave me life, heading for Tanhualin I took Line 2 to Pangxiejia to reach this coffee shop haven. Falling in love with Merci Cafe I was up for a Baileys Coffee and a piece of Tiramisu cake. The feel of Merci Cafe was felt like an explosion of cute and kistch design, decorated with cool pastel tones, accompanied by trendy trinkets I was sold instantly. The other coffee shops looked inviting but I couldn't say no to the charms of Merci Cafe, I'll be having two cakes next time for the Tiramisu was bite-sized! Yes, Shengri Kuaile!

I'm planning on staying in Wuhan for awhile, so I always want to find somewhere new to fall in love with, getting to know Tanhualin on my 25th birthday suited me just fine. I will be going back soon because there's more places I want to check out along that sickening street made up of cool hangouts, I'm no hipster but I will never say no to a bit of exploration and experimenting with that culture. Fueled and ready to go forth I knew my 25th birthday had already been great so far, I had everything mapped out! Wuchang keeps on proving itself to be a district that's got hidden depths and so much more to show me. I should probably try a different coffee shop next time I visit Tanhualin but my heart belongs to Merci Cafe for now. Moving away from coffee I found a Chinese market street that served tones of Wuhanese Overness, I got my hair cut and moved on to the next! Another Wuchang sight my birthday trip unearthed! Tanhualin, let's get together soon? I love the cake! 

Getting my life I went back to Guanggu, I was very much looking forward to my evening meal. Meeting my friend Elli we went to Indian Marka, a sensational Indian restaurant inside Guanggu's World City Plaza shopping centre. Elli also celebrated her 25th birthday that week but on the 11th of November, our evening was like a double birthday celebration! We had heard great things about the food at Indian Marka, with all those good reviews we had to try it for ourselves. I ordered the Butter Chicken, Garlic Naan Bread, Samosa and some Poppadoms, yes I indulged that evening because yes it was my birthday! Elli ordered the same as me but she opted for a Chicken Korma curry. We were in food ecstasy if only for a while, to not eat anything remotely Chinese was a dream come true. The restaurant had an Indian chef, thinking back my curry tasted just like one I would have at home in England. Yes it was definitely curry heaven!

Our meal was so much more than just the food, the company was amazing and our conversation made me realise I do have some great friends here in Wuhan. Elli teaches at a primary school in Wuhan and we met because we are employed by the same English teaching agency. Splitting the bill straight down the middle we only spent £11.00 each for all of our food, so the bill came to 223 Chinese Yuan. Compared to a local meal it did cost a bit more but compared to home it wasn't bad for it was a treat for my birthday. Taking a break back at my apartment I opened my bottle of Tanqueray Gin that I had treated myself to, me and Elli gossiped for a bit before getting some real drinks. Vibes Club in Jiedaokou brought some seriously good African beats that Saturday night. It's a firm favourite of mine, the music is amazing and the drinks are value for money so all's good. I drank numerous Earthquake's that night, not missing out the chance to throw some shapes on the floor! Sunday was a bad day!

Another Year Gorgeous!

Joseph Harrison 


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