Saturday, January 17, 2015

A crane, A bell, and a good time had by all......

We gave everyone a break this morning and didn’t leave the hotel until 10:00 a.m.  If you wanted breakfast, however, you still needed to be in there by 9.  I think most everyone showed for that meal, but as it is a very “Chinese-style” breakfast, some might have headed over to Starbucks……just sayin’……..

First stop this morning was the Yellow Crane Tower, not far from our hotel.  This Pavilion area is a reconstruction of a third century edifice that burned down in 1884 and has become the symbol of Wuhan.  According to legend, it was built to honor one of the Daoist Eight Immortals, who paid his tavern bill by drawing cranes on the walls.  Although the tower is under some renovation and we could only go to the second floor, there are still some fine views of the city as it sits atop one of the highest hills in the city.  Oh, we know about the hill…..we walked up “several” flights of steep steps before reaching the tower itself.  “Just one more set,” our guide would say as we huffed and puffed up another 100 steps.  “Just one more!”  Right.  

For 39 yuan, one could ring the massive bell on the hill 9 times.  Dr. Schilf gave it a try as did several of our students.  We also posed for a “class photo” and while doing so, became famous in perhaps more than 100 other photos – taken mostly by Chinese folks who were visiting the tower.   “See, we are famous here in Wuhan!”

Dr. Schilf and Phil Mulder
It was at the Tower than we found, our should I say, HE found (Philip Mulder that is) our group.  Phil was with us on the tour of 2007 and was so taken with China that he returned for a study abroad semester then moved here following graduation from Augie.  Originally from Volga, Phil now finds his way around cities like these with 10 million + residents with ease.  Phil took a high-speed train up from the south where he works as an English professor at a university.  It was great to have him with us for the day, and I think he enjoyed being with and talking to fellow band members as we did having him with us.  Thanks for taking the time to join us, Phil!  It truly was great to see you.

Following an excellent lunch, we headed off to the Hubei Provincial Museum, one of the top four in all of China.  Among the highlights are the items excavated in 1978
from the tomb of the Marquis of Yi, and eminent figure from the Warring States period who died in 433 BC.

View from the Hubei Provincial Museum
We saw the lacquered coffin in which he was buried, accompanied by his concubines, hi dog, and thousands of bronze, stone and wooden items.  The most impressive find in this collection however is the panoply of bronze bells which produce two notes each when struck.  Later during our visit, we attended a show done by people in native dress who performed on a reproduction of the bells in the museum.  It was quite impressive.

Golden artifacts from tomb.

East the coats, you can pick out Augie people!
A walk along the shores of East Lake (named East Lake as it is, believe it or not, on the East of Wuhan).  What a gorgeous spot to be on a beautiful winter afternoon!  Some of us even rented little boats to slowly move about the lotus plants and enjoy some sunshine (and grab some fabulous picutres!) on the lake.  Dr. Schilf and I paid a small amount to grab one of the “electronic” boats that cut through the lake at an astounding 7 km per hour!  I think people walked faster than that, but hey, it was fun!

A brief stop for a bit of shopping was in a new area of Wuhan with a Las Vegas type atmosphere.  What we saw was a long street full of neon, clubs, restaurants, shops and more.  Quite impressive!
Wuhan is getting ready for Spring Festival, thus the cherry blossoms (fake, but pretty!)

Following this stop, we headed for dinner and then back to the hotel.  We have an earlier morning tomorrow as we depart for our cruise at 9 a.m.   It will be interesting to see if wi-fi is available on this “ship” to keep up this blog…..if not, check back in about five days to hear about it from Xian!

Weather today:  high 50’s, sun and smog.  (If this is winter, we’ll take it!)

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