Hubei: China’s Enchanted Enshi...

As the clock ticks before my departure back to England, I chose to explore the city of Enshi, Hubei. Inspired by two fellow teaching friends, I booked up without any hesitations. With a limited time frame I had to be inventive, would I spend the day at the Grand Canyon or choose the city centre? Would the soft sleeper to Enshi be more comfortable than my Tibet train? Oh!

Clocking off from another week teaching English in Wuhan, I got myself through Friday rush hour traffic to Wuchang Railway Station in one piece. Since Emmy and Jemima had uploaded their postcard worthy photos of Enshi City, I had to see those lush sights for myself! Bagging a soft sleeper seemed like the right thing to do, I'm used to sleeping in hostel dormitories but that train compartment just didn't right! Well, within the regards to the closed door because the hard sleeper doesn't have a closing door. It was a very different experience! Leaving a very rainy Wuchang, I slept pretty well till six in the morning. I was prepared for the arrival of my train but that wasn't meant to be. Due to a problem with the line, my train was stationary for at least two hours as far as I counted. Finally, chugging away at 9 a.m. it took us another two hours to reach Enshi Railway Station. Shrugging away that drama the views from that train were out of this world amazing! The rain had been bad but it had been an almighty experience! Eventful Enshi! 

Jumping off that delayed sleeper train I had considerably less time than had been planned, getting my sightseeing game on I jumped on the 30 bus to Tusi Ancient City. An oasis of lush green loveliness, I got on with what I had to do, surrounded by a stone wall I unknowingly made my way to the top. The views over the ancient city were something else. Enshi was shaping up pretty nice, resembling a 'Little Chongqing' with its long hanging clouds and humid climbs amongst the mountainous scenery. I can't remember all of the names but the structures certainly served a special quality, dating back to a time when a minority clan called the ancient city their dominion, it felt like another world completely. The concrete style of my Wuhan neighbourhood was long gone, far off east back in the provincial capital. That's it! During 910, during that Liang Dynasty the Tusi Domain embodied true Tujia style! The annoyance of the later arrival had disappeared at that point, Enshi had a plan for me! In the end, I was good! Hello there, Enshi! 

No, I wasn't up for cramming onto a bus for twelve stops! Where were my Baidu Maps? Getting all clever I decided to take a diversion from my Baidu Maps route, the rain did start to batter down but Enshi's Qinjiang riverside didn't look bad at all! Hold on let me take that back quick-time! Oh my did it throw it down, literally I had never seen such a severe monsoon style rain. Ever! To cut a long and rather unpleasant story, I thanked the heavens as soon as the rain ceased, credit to Mother Nature she ushered in a beautiful mid-afternoon sky over the Qinjiang River. Before time, I had my directions all sorted! Enshi sure had me on my toes, through the craziness I had found my way somehow, call it insanity if you must! Putting things into perspective, I had made it to my third city in Hubei within my first two years in China. Hubei had so far shown me a lot, my current China Province never ceases to make things easy, I like it that way! Enshi would be the correct place to spend that June weekend, I had to soak it all in, E! 

Coming to the end of my time here in China for the first throw, I had just had my final official National Holiday at the end of May 2017 to Hefei, but I wanted to take three final weekend trips to cities that were within easy reach from Wuhan. Enshi is famous for its magical Grand Canyon but with no more than a weekend free from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon I had to decide 'city centre' or 'Grand Canyon?' The city centre served me a compact series of sights that were on a lower level compared to Wuhan, lower in the stakes of being accessible by foot and with less going on the pollution didn't throw up any issues. Enshi's city centre core had a close-knit vibe, everything was where it needed to be and what I saw was really nice, a change of scenery was what I was looking for and I got that! Growing close to my Dongfeng Avenue hotel, I saw what looked like the Fenghuang Mountain Park, knowing I wouldn't have the time to visit, that was fine. Enshi was so chilled out! I allowed the city to show me the way, I was content with that! 

Checking into my lodgings for the night, I chose to stay at the Enshi International Hotel. With Enshi being a smaller city in Hubei Province, I wasn't expecting too much from that hotel. Serving a purpose and with a clean room, it was money well spent, no I hadn't gone all the way to Enshi to spend the evening in the room so I went out looking for some food. Backtracking to the almost flooded streets that I had seen from the bus, I chose to have a walk back in-search of something to eat. After a bit of wandering, I found a simple looking road-side restaurant, the lady was frying up some fried rice, it looked amazing! Choosing a bowl of that delicious fried rice was a winner, the place being simple gave me a perfect sense of Enshi's enchanting charms. The dusk began to fall onto that normal Enshi street, people chatted on the pavements at the other food places in the evenings afterglow. Aside from whatever rubbish had happened didn't matter anymore! I could finally breathe a sigh of relief, Enshi had the best vibe going on! All was good! 

Enchanted? From one moment to the next my experiences in Enshi went from an enchanted moment to a nightmare, without a doubt the beauty and charm of Enshi showed me something enchanted without question! The rolling mountains that I saw on the approach into Enshi definitely looked dreamy, regardless of the lush surroundings it did make the delayed arrival a nightmare because I wasn't in a place to extend or repeat my trip. Seeing the rain off, it was definitely a place that took me away from my final weeks at work. I have my arrival back into England on my mind, so these small weekend getaways distract me! Sure, well that's the plan anyhow. The Grand Canyon wasn't meant to be, I saw the charm of the city through my own eyes without the draw of that famous scenic spot. Taking the high speed train back to Wuhan on the Sunday was the right idea and with an extra day off work the next day, I had time to relax before going back to work! From the very beginning, Enshi had had my back all along! Back to reality! 

Enchanted Or What?

Joseph Harrison 


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