2016: Amazing April!

Yes, April 2016 was an amazing month for certain with many reasons to celebrate! From my Tomb Sweeping weekend break in Changsha, Hunan to getting my second tattoo with my friend, Fiona. Casting my mind back to the previous April it was all about saving for my upcoming move to China but one year on it was definitely a lively month! Xianning, surprised me for certain! 

Setting off for my first trip out of Wuhan after my Spring Festival travel extravaganza I was ready for Changsha! Hunan Province's capital city needn't of waited for me because I zoomed down from Wuhan Railway Station on my fifth China High Speed Train journey to Changsha South. Meeting with a friend who happens to also be an English teacher we had a great weekend seeing the sights that Changsha had to offer. I loved Orange Island Park the best with its Central Park feeling, it was bringing back some New York City Overness for certain! Being a part of the hysteria when we saw the giant statue of Chairman Mao's head emulated something caught at Disney World or outside the gates of London's Buckingham Palace! The weather held out for a short while but those rain clouds filled up and eventually poured down like there was no tomorrow! For a city smaller than Wuhan, Changsha City impressed me very much!

I wasn't expecting much from my trip to Changsha because the main reason was to spend some time with my friend, Andy. Ditching a hotel or a hostel for his homely apartment I was made to feel very welcomed for the entirety of my whistle-stop trip. April 2016 was running down the track like an Olympic sprinter, with a chance of getting the gold I had a feeling I was also going to experience a champion month. Changsha served up a terrible odour, being the home of 'Stinky Tofu' I pinched my nose whenever that stench was nearby. Huogong Palace may have been just a restaurant but I loved it's entrance, serving something that oozed a flare I love in China! Seeking something cultural and historical at the same time on my second day in Changsha, the Tianxin Pavilion and Park was exactly what I wanted to see whilst in that Hunan capital city! Beginning with a bang, I appreciated my first outing away from Wuhan during April 2016. From one trip to the next, I was ready for it! Yass Xi!

Embracing Wuhan's neighbouring Hubei sister city I was more than ready for Xianning, something told me it was going to be an eventful weekend! Getting back on the train I arrived at Xianning North Station after racing from work to Wuhan Railway Station, I wasn't going to miss that Friday night out on the tiles! Meeting my fellow teaching friend, Fiona at the station we got ready and allowed the night ahead to show us some crazy times! April had got me seeing something new, seeking the raw edge of Xianning gave me the opportunity to see a side of Hubei that I honestly didn't know existed. After getting crazy on the Friday night, myself and Fiona went to the Qianshan National Park to see Xianning from a higher view. Compared to the craziness of Wuhan I embraced the calming vista that Xianning presented to us two. Like a prayer we both found solace at Qianshan Temple, I sent my thoughts to the Buddha. It felt so relaxing!

April had been busy, after Changsha I was called away again to Xianning for another full on weekend, I was living! No McDonald's was going to help what felt like the worst hangover in my life, on reflection it wasn't the hangover that was making me feel so bad it was my dancing the previous night because we slayed! Breathing fresh air was the best, Wuhan has too much construction and god knows what else going on! March was pure working after Spring Festival, taking two breaks away from my jammed pack Kindergarten schedule was just what I needed. Xianning showed me so much more than I thought it was going to, on my final afternoon it was time to see some of the city's oldest streets. Going into what felt like another world was amazing, I was away from the modernity of Wuhan's growing skyline, so seeing something stripped back did serve scenes from my Jiang'an adventures. Bound for Wuhan Railway Station I was ready for a new week of teaching. I needed sleep!

Fiona had some business with our teaching agency to deal with so we turned her visit into a weekend of unexpected events! Meeting after work within the crazy that is Guanggu Square it was only natural for the wine to start flowing, we always have stories to share a healthy serving of truth to analyse. Dealing with the shady business early on during Saturday morning, we then headed for our favourite Chinese lunch dishes. The weather was positively awful, ditching our sightseeing plans to have a lazy afternoon acted as the perfect remedy to my post-boozy state. Treating ourselves we dined at the local Indian Restaurant in a nearby shopping centre to ring in Saturday night! We had both been thinking about getting a new tattoo but that idea was amazing! After doing a few translations of designs that we had been thinking about for a long time, biting the bullet we headed for Wuhan Prison! We got inked!

Wuhan Prison is amazing, boasting a bar then next door its own tattoo shop, getting down to Lumo Road we were hoping no one else was waiting in line! Submitting our designs the tattoo artist took a short break before our new tats could be inked. Going next door to the bar we both had a strong drink to calm those pre-tattoo nerves, I had my first tattoo before I went to university during a family holiday to Turkey a few years ago so I had given it a while before taking the plunge for my second piece of body art. I chose to have three Chinese characters etched onto to my upper back, translated to 'Travel', 'Live' and 'Explore' I took the tagline from my blog to become a permanent reminder of my time spent in China. Fiona chose the characters for 'Family' and 'Love' as her tattoo design, after our sittings we were very happy about our tattoos! Even though it was all very spur of the moment we were completely sure about what we were doing. Yes, April 2016 was definitely amazing!

April! Get It, Get It!

Joseph Harrison


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