China13 Jan 2007 03:08 am

Plan = catch a train to ChangSha heading north towards Beijing.

Ticket in hand, I board the train and settle down for the journey across scenery reserved for “Monkey Magic” tv shows. Lots of finger pointing, gesticulations and underlining character symbols in my guidebook, I determine that the train arrives at the destination at 3.30 in the morning.

3.30 am …. I couldn’t see myself locating a hotel…, getting settled and relaxing in the middle of China at that time. So- I look on my map and choose another destination. 30 mins later and my arms are tired from more gesticulating, pointing and underlining characters with the train guard. My wallet is also slightly lighter, as I had succeeded in bartering my bed-bunk till a city called Wuhan, where we would arrive at 7.30am… a much more civil time. MUST watch the video below to get an idea of the task.

WUHAN! You could not be further from the Western World if you tried. Roman Alphabet? What is that? Holding 8 fingers up to say ‘8’ – no, you just use your thumb and forefinger of course!

What a remarkable experience, to wander through a city of 8 million people – all with their own language and writing…. And just you with yours.

You tower above them and can be seen coming a mile off. You get a feeling akin to minor celebrity status. This is not a tourist destination. People in the shopping malls, as busy as London’s Oxford St on Xmas eve – part for you slightly like Moses and the Red Sea. It’s not impolite for them to stare – so they do.

Do as the guidebook says and get lost… these people were so friendly and in shock at seeing a westerner, I had no concerns about wandering down back alleys in the older part of the city.

Tubs full of frogs, turtles, whatever you want to eat – overflowing. Stalls bbq’ing chicken tongues on a stick – looks lovely, but no thanks. Cats outside restaurants on display, as we would have lobsters in our own Western version… yes – (see Average-Day-In-Central-China ) video below.

If there was ever challenges to your own upbringing and way of life, culture, civilized nature – this city is the place to explore those to the utmost.

Spend a week here uttering not a word of your native tongue nor reading a menu or sign in your own language (what AM I eating if I point to this menu item?!?) and you leave a changed person.

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