12 August 2017

Hubei Province: China's Central Heart!

Hubei province was my home for over two years as I lived in Wuhan, the provincial capital was exploding before my eyes but I wanted to break out of the city limits to see more of Hubei during my time there. Xianning, Enshi and Yichang all took me by the hand for different reasons, from cementing a lasting friendship to witnessing a man-made wonder I was amazed by Hubei! 

Rushing from my kindergarten to Wuhan Railway Station I wasn't ready for the off the wall antics Xianning, Hubei would serve to me that very weekend! Zooming to Xianning North I was greeted by Fiona, my China bestie hailed a taxi to allow the mayhem to begin! Changed within minutes we battled the rain to reach her local bar, the lower tier city of Xianning had a rough and rustic vibe it hadn't had the boom like Wuhan received with endless construction but I loved Fiona's neighbourhood, it was full of drama and everyday trouble for sure! Tanning a drink or three it was a foreign affair for we were the only expats in the bar. Graduating to a nearby club our inner freaks were truly released on the runway, literally the runway in that club became our because we were high on that moment! Boozed up and ready to sleep we called it a night, it had been a very eventful day but I was ready for round two! Don't be haram!

Waking up to fireworks banging outside wasn't what I planned at all it was only April! Dragging ourselves out into the daylight we caught the bus to Xianning's Qianshan National Park to get a higher view of Wuhan's little sister. I nearly didn't make it up but Fiona as company it wasn't difficult to just power up to the top to see the views. The city of Xianning looked a lot smaller to the monster that is Wuhan, the less stress was much easier to deal with. Getting back to the city was interesting, taking a tuk-tuk was our only choice as the buses disappeared! McDonalds got us through the day, taking a rest we need to be ready for the evening ahead. The night was mental! Leaving the drama behind and a classless individual it was home time! Sunday brought my final day in Xianning, reuniting with Alvaro we had a look around Fiona's school it was very different to mine. The old streets gave me life, since Baltimore I hunt down Realness! With enough time for lunch and coffee it was back to Wuhan. 

Focussing most of my time on trips outside of Hubei I bit the bullet towards the end of my two years of living in Wuhan with a weekend jaunt to Enshi, Hubei. Going out of my comfort zone I took my second sleeper train, my first experience of a sleeper train was in a hard sleeper compartment but the overnight journey to Enshi was in a soft sleeper, not the best! Waking up a little while before my train was scheduled to arrive at Enshi Railway Station the train was stuck at a silent station that wasn't my destination. After a little delay I was on Enshi soil with my sights set on the Tusi Ancient City as I wasn't going to have time to visit the Canyon in the one day I chose places in the city centre. I liked the Ancient City, it was nice to see from the walls that surrounded that Enshi attraction. The unfortunate elements of the train journey melted away as the heavens opened to a level that caused flooding in the streets! Yes!

The rain finally deiced to stop, how very considerate of it because me and my rucksack stood soaking! No, I don't travel with an umbrella! Trying again I caught a second great view of Enshi's branch of the Qing River, calmer and a lot smaller than Wuhan's branch of the Yangtze River, that chilled sight gave me some life as it had been a long day. Reaching my hotel was a relief, dropping my things and airing out my soaked trainers and clothes I headed out for some food and to mooch around what felt like the city centre of Enshi during the early evening. Heading back to the half-flooded street that I passed through on the bus wasn't my plan but I saw some killer fried rice being cooked outside a small restaurant, it didn't cost the earth and it tasted amazing! Heading back to the hotel I loved the lively vibe of people just enjoying the evening in a civilised way without stress, seeing people out and about wasn't annoying like Guanggu throws up! So, Enshi was worth the journey Hubei!

Yichang had been a city within Hubei province that I had wanted to visit for a while, home to the Three Gorges Dam I was running out of time fast so booking a last minute weekend trip before leaving China had to be done! Arriving just before the midnight hour at Yichang East Railway Station took me closer to the controversial dam project. Checking into my hotel wasn't a stress, opening the door to my room I was staggered by what stood in front of me! I thought I had booked a simple double room but low and behold I had a huge bathroom and even a separate sitting room, for all of forty pounds for two night I was winning! Refreshed from my sound sleep in my queen size bed I attempted breakfast but that was a no go! Meeting my tour guide I was shown to some Re Gan Mian and some soy bean milk for breakfast, I was complemented on my Chinese skills by the ladies who served me! Refuelled, I was ready for the day Yi!

Marvelling at the views from the car it didn't take long to leave Yichang's small city centre, the lush green mountain views impressed me much! Arriving at the visitor centre the short bus ride was fine, taking in the sight of the vast gorge was amazing because I had only seen photos before that moment, which didn't justify the actual scene. The vast gorge area that was centred around the dam lasted forever, the landscape gave a sweeping effect that I appreciated. Stopping for lunch had to be done, usually the China Highlights package included lunch but that tour didn't but it wasn't expensive so I was going to stress my mind over that business. Qu Yuan's Ancestral Hall had me schooled about Dragon Boat Festival, the reasons for the different customs all made perfect sense after the story was introduced to me. The hall had been relocated due to the rising water levels that dam construction trigger, the view amazed me with the principles 'Feng Shui' had been noticed. Yes, Yichang!

My Hubei Province!

Joseph Harrison 

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