20 August 2018

China: Wuhan's Calling!

Going back to Wuhan felt strange, I had wanted to leave that Central China City so very much back in July 2017. Going back was something that I hadn't planned, with my UK holiday home planned with a weekend to spare beforehand it gave me the perfect excuse to rediscover a place that I actually missed. My comeback was blessed, touching down I was greeted warmly!

Arriving just before midnight on the 18th of August it was lovely to be picked up by the parents of a previous student that attended my Wuhan kindergarten during my two years teaching in the city. They were so gracious, taking me to my hotel in the dead of night for no cost it was a blessed feeling to be with such nice people and back in the city that I called home for my first two years in China! Seeing the signs for Dongxihu reminded me of Fiona, we spent some great times in that part of the city during our time working in Wuhan, I wasn't going to dwell I was going to be thankful and look back on those memories fondly. Checking into my Hanting Seasons Hotel in the Optics Valley area was a relief, it had been a long day at work and the late evening flight left me wanting my bed before a hectic days sightseeing. Oh Wu, It felt correct to be back after almost 13 months since leaving for the UK before my transfer to Beijing. 

Waking up with the birds it was going to be a full on day, I wasn't going to be wasting any time, it was on from the word, go! Scanning a MoBike, I peddled towards the forever construction site that's Guanggu Square, as I had imagined it was still a sea of cranes and crazy with the ongoing metro projects still being built! Almost getting into an altercation with a street seller for leaving that rental bike in his pitch, the adrenaline of Wuhan life came flooding back to me! Guanggu Street stopped me in my tracks, it was the same but it felt slightly different. The China Merchants Bank looked fresh and the building that I used to live in was still standing, no noodle or tang bao shop was present but I knew where to find that breakfast food without stress! The craze of Guanggu had me from the first moment it came back into my view, it felt like a home away from home and then some! The rain that morning had lessen the usual mayhem around Guanggu Street, the buzz was easier to navigate through.

Walking back towards Optics Valley Square station led me to a familiar sight of pandemonium, Minzu Avenue helped get my Hot & Dry Noodles fix! I tell you the stares didn't faze me, I got my noodles without a fuss. It was crazy to think how much I had missed that famous Wuhan breakfast food since leaving the city, somedays that Wuhan favourite turned my stomach because I ate it too much, but it was a divine treat! My morning so far was going so well, I had seen a blast from the past, had some amazing breakfast and had been shouted at all before 10am! I had been feeling some kind of way about Wuhan since the quietness of Shunyi, Beijing had become my new China dream. Getting back to Guanggu and the city that showed me the path to how mad things are felt great, if not surreal to sat the very least! Yes, I had missed those noodles so much, I even bought some instant mixture from TB before my Wuhan flight to BJ!

Backtracking, to see Guanggu Street felt bizarre, the foyer of the building that I used to live in looked the same, maybe it looked cleaner? Yes, a certain truth! This might sound bad, the people looked the same because the vibe was exactly the same! The contrast between Shunyi was no joke, the elite in Beijing's airport suburb with its international schools and embassy villas played the contrast, the down-to-earth nature of Guanggu brought me back down to earth, injecting some insanity back into my life for a short while if nothing else. Being typically tourist that time around felt mad, since moving to Beijing my China life has been turned upside down with the stresses of everyday life, being back within a familiar craziness put me at ease! Breakfast was amazing and the construction continued, Wuhan knew I was on my way to the next phase of my day! Getting a Wuhan Tong wasn't too much of a challenge, I had been in such a rush to leave Beijing I had forgotten my Tong! 

The last time Hanyang crossed my path it was hotter than hell, the humidity that 2017 day ruined any chance of a productive sightseeing day! Rerunning that Hanyang option I took the metro from Optics Valley to Qin Tai via Jianghan Road, the threatening skies cooled the air down enough for me to check out Hanyang's Qin Tai Pavilion without being uncontrollably hot or bothered by the heat! The views over Hanyang's Moon Lake impressed me and reminded me of the day me and Fiona made it down from Dongxihu. The quietness allowed me to see what I needed in a respectable amount of time, taking in the history interested me and then some, a tale of talent and friendship informed me about Hanyang's Lute Pavilion. Yet again it did feel insanely weird to be in back in the city of Wuhan without my China bestie, Fiona! Of course, no basic energy would be brought into the mix, no way Wuhan! Hanyang, slay on!

Hanyang had the perfect formula for my comeback moment! Qin Tai seemed chilled, around the metro station it was nice and quiet, the usual Wuhan pandemonium was nowhere to be seen or even felt, it was truly refreshing to experience the city for the second time without loosing myself in some rage, those breakdowns were dead and gone! I had already seen a lot of Wuchang and Hankou, choosing to focus on Hanyang was the one, I planned to take my time but to keep those Wuhan goals in mind because the next day would be spent with a previous student from my kindergarten I worked at in the city. I had two more places to see during my Hanyang adventure, it was onto the next stop! The day was still young, I had seen so much up until that point. Guanggu served realness from the word go, need I say one more time that those Hot & Dry Noodles were out of this world! Keeping me on my toes from the very beginning, Wuhan City knew I had much more to see within that one day!

我爱你武汉!

Joseph Harrison

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