Wuhan: University Libraries, Parks & Street Food Encounters!

So, it's safe to say that Wuchang called me back two weeks ago or so, I adore this part of Wuhan city even though its changing. After seeing my first throw of sights and smell's during the first few months of living here, I came back to see a hint of university life and a place that took me back to a sweet first encounter. In my feelings, I found a new love for Wuchang District, 武汉市!

Wuhan can be heavily recognised for its high concentration of university's with Wu's different faculties and a large student population. I ditched the other expats, I was willing to check out the grounds of Wuhan University. Undoubtedly the most recognisable house of knowledge in the city. With a random Monday off work during June because of a campus closure, I decided to rock down to see the famous library of Wuhan University. As I tried to reach the library in-question, I got lost within those leafy green surroundings. Stepping on it, I brushed off that shade and found my Wuhan University landmark even though the humidity tried to finish me! Tracking down the library at long last, I was fronted with a see of graduates, all adorned in their gowns and all posing for their final group photos of their university careers! I had seen a sight like that before in Wuhan but the city's major uni gave me a better view even if the weather was bad. Wuhan University looked great even when the Hubei rain poured down! To be a graduate?

Aside from library at Wuhan University, I was actually looking for a grand historic building that overlooked a normal looking running track. Google Maps was an absolute no-go, I had given up the ghost during my first visit because that Wuhan rain was giving me hell, determined as ever I had a duty to return. With my head in the game, I followed my Baidu Maps app that I watched closely for the twists and turns and the obvious Chinese road signs, sure I found my desired location in the end. Spelling the Chinese for Wuhan University that building exuded a sense of oriental flavour but somewhere told me I was looking at a European ideal. Famed for its Sakura Blossom, I had avoided that time because the crowds get too much, choosing a quiet Sunday I found what I wanted even if it was second time around. Dating back 124 years since that opening in 1893, Wuhan University's grand buildings fulfilled a Wuchang vision of mine! From the Yellow Crane Tower to 1911's Uprising Memorial, I knew that Wuchang had more in-store! 当然!

Taking a random turn I turned to Hongshan Park for a quick moment, I couldn't deal with the humidity at all so I wanted the next part of my Sunday to be shaded. Situated next door from Baotong Temple, I found Hongshan Park to be a hidden gem if not a really random part that didn't take up too much of my time. Entering into the parks lush surroundings I spotted a group of older Wuhanese people all congregated around some tables, they looked as if they were playing Mahjong? That is a Chinese board game that is popular with Wuhan's army of Grandparents and Uncles. I didn't want to pry or be rude by staring because that would have made me a hypocrite and I'm definitely not one of those things! Wuchang's secret park had a lot to show me but I was just so hot and bothered, plus I wanted to get the most out of my Sunday afternoon by not hanging around in one place. Mahjong may not be for me, those seniors sure looked occupied though! Passing Hongshan Park Metro all those times, sure I was curious! OK!

Staying on the right track, I looked back to my first meeting with Wuchang back in 2015. That Google Maps fail had me looking really stupid, I made those connections and used Baidu from there on. During my most recent experiences in Wuchang I had more of an idea for sure about where I was going. The first time around I was stupid enough to look at a Google Map and take it for the truth, that was a mistake as the Changchun Taoist Temple was enough to find but it took me a second time to reach the Yellow Crane Tower. The formidable Uprising Memorial of 1911 was literally under my noise as I realised that during my second Wuchang day that took me to the Yellow Crane Tower with an added stop around Hubu Alley but the summer heat stopped me in my tracks, that food street smelt less than savoury. In control and aware of my environment I found my second instalment of Wuchang to be a finely tuned affair. I definitely see one more Wuchang day out before my departure to England. Hongshan Park, see you soon? I've got to go! 

Turning the clock back to September 2016 I had met a new friend from chosen my app, we met for barbecue the evening before my second academic year started. Getting to know that new person in my life across the road from a dimly lit food street that looked practically ancient was a special moment. We never went for food along that food street but the view will always stay etched fondly in my mind. It's a sight that will always makes me think for a few moments each time when I've been on the 703 bus from either Hankou or Hanyang. Taking my head away from a not so distant time, I stood in front of that same street but in the daylight it looked exceedingly quieter than I had previously seen it. That Wuchang connect repaired but then broke my loving heart all the same, it was a whirlwind romance from that spot and for what happened it was all just so. Just like that, standing back in that location gave me the lasting clarity that was needed. Would I ever stray back to that mister? I can't answer that because love does crazy things to us! 

It was quite funny because next to that food street became a familiar location during the autumn season of 2016. Located close from Dingziqiao, I spent a fair bit of time with a that 'boo thing' that joined me for barbecue. It was a time that took the first part of my second year in Wuhan into a new direction. From chilled weekends to checking out the breakfast places around the area, it was lovely! But sometimes things just aren't meant to be. I'll always have a place for this area of Wuchang because it captures those sweet memories for me. Honestly, who can't argue with having a bit of happiness? Let us take a second to be honest with ourselves! Seriously, he had me feeling utterly dumb, completely ooey gooey dumb! Wuchang has followed me from that 2015 moment, from the getting lost to then getting in my feelings near Dingziqiao because Wuhan as a city has been a massive attack of emotions. The university had me schooled, I saw it for myself whilst Wuhan remained by expat home. Yes, 武昌区 had me mad about that man! W!

When In Wuchang!

Joseph Harrison 


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