Between December 1990 and January 1991, Adam and I travelled the Yangztse River from Shanghai to Chongqing; a journey that took us 9 days then. At that time, tourism along the Yangtse was in its infancy and we, as poor backpackers, couldn’t have afforded a cruise ship anyway. So we travelled on Chinese passenger boats that made very few concessions to either comfort or tourists. There were no sightseeing stops or side excursions; we even managed to miss one Gorge altogether, as the boat went through it at night.
Suzhou Creek 1990
In those days, foreign visitors were charged much higher prices for transport, hotels, sights, etc., than Chinese people and had to pay in Foreign Exchange Certificates (a special currency only for foreigners or foreign transactions), rather than Renminbi (the People’s money), which is why many backpackers resorted to black- marketeers. To get his hands on a couple of discounted, Chinese-price tickets for the first leg of the journey, Adam had to follow a Chinese man into the toilets of the Seaman’s Club at the Pujiang Hotel (known as Astor House Hotel after recent makeovers) in an action reminiscent of an old spy movie.
We first visited Wuhan on a grey, wet December day in 1990. Yet, despite the weather, the city’s colonial architecture, lively streets and abundant markets left quite a favourable impression. Unfortunately, at the time we were far too obsessed with our search (unsuccessful) for Chinese-price boat tickets to Chongqing, to have a proper look around.
However, from our chance meeting with two American teachers who were absolutely desperate for any Westerners to communicate with in English, we gathered that it was hardly a cultural hot spot.
This time, on our second visit, we noticed many changes: the city had become huge and, in parts, totally modern. Just like Chongqing. Yet, while we hadn’t really liked revisiting Chongqing, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Wuhan. This was mostly thanks to the attractive, Continue reading “Funky Wuhan 武汉好玩儿”
Text by Margie. Photos include some of the best murals from Wudang Shan taken with the permission of the monks and nuns.
This revered Taoist mountain, birthplace of Taichi and Unesco Heritage Site is more or less equidistant from Yichang and Wuhan. This is why, after disembarking from our Yangzi cruise in Yichang, we decided to make our way to the mountain from there.
An early-morning bus from Yichang’s modern bus station takes us to Wudang town in about five-and-a-half hours, lunch stop included. We are amazed by the brand-new and virtually deserted motorways on which we are travelling, through a pretty landscape of green fields, with a backdrop of distant mountains. Apart from the Continue reading “Wudang Shan武当山”