Arrival in Wuhan, China
July 8, 2009 § 1 Comment
My flight departed pretty late so I reached Wuhan at about 9:00pm. Melody and her boyfriend, Leo, were waiting for me at the gate and had a sign with my name on it. =) It was so weird but cool seeing her in person and interacting with her. She was wearing a cute green dress with a sash on it and was so nice and motherly from the start. We had to ride a bus from the airport to the city where they then took me to a hotel to eat some dimsum.
The food was yummy but I was most impressed by the price. All that (and more) was only 50 yuan ($7) for the three of us. Things in Wuhan are so much cheaper than in Shanghai. The reason is that its less developed and commercialized. To give you a point of comparison, taxis in Shanghai have a base rate of 11 yuan while in Wuhan, it is 3 yuan. From the hotels to the food, everything is cheaper.
During dinner, it was so cute and funny seeing and talking to Leo and Melody. I think Melody was more reserved because it was our first time meeting but Leo was just his unconstrained, outgoing self. After chatting for a while and exchanging information about ourselves, I asked them if they minded if I asked a personal question and they both said that it was fine. When I then asked them if they were planning to get married, Leo emphatically nodded his head with a huge smile while Melody looked at me with awkwardly with hesitation written all over her face. lol! Leo is so crazy and carefree while Melody is more stable and mild mannered. Leo kept on patting Melody’s head and calling her his little 猪头 (pig head) and told me that he feeds her a lot so that she will get nice and chubby and he will not have any competition for her affection. LOL.
After dinner, Melody took me to her apartment. On our way there I realized that I was finally seeing the “real China” that people had been telling me about. Shanghai is considered the Paris of China and is known to be more developed and more expensive than other Chinese cities. Plus, I was staying in an expatriate community, complete with white picket fences. I wasn’t fully experiencing China and even though I was aware of that, it was still a little startling. Wuhan was definitely pretty dirty, smelly, and full of pollution. It was weird coming from an American upbringing and I had to work hard to not let my thoughts show on my face. I didn’t want to be rude in another person’s hometown. I know that I don’t like it when people speak badly about Berkeley, despite my knowledge of its shortcomings, so I just kept my mouth shut and dealt with my feelings inside. Even when Allan, someone who has lived in Berkeley as long as I have, says bad things about Berkeley I have to remind myself that he is entitled to his opinion and let it go. Hehehe. I’m definitely more optimistic though and I can usually find something redeeming about a place despite the shortcomings so its harder for me to understand how someone could not like it as well.
Anyway, staying in Wuhan taught me how to use a squatting toilet. I still don’t like them but now at least I know how to use one. I haven’t had to squat to go to the bathroom my whole trip thus far so I never had to learn how to flush one. Some have faucets that you turn on that will then send water into the toilet but others have no such thing and you have to collect water in a basin and pour it down. I spent so much time just standing in the bathrooms, looking quizzically at the toilets, wondering what to do. It’s funny though because while I thought squatting toilets were so weird and foreign, Melody said that sitting toilets were strange to her.
- I saw my first and only female taxi driver in Wuhan. Apparently there are a lot but I only encountered one.
- There are many private buses in Wuhan. Private citizens buy or rent buses and then charge people money as they drive it around. AND, they don’t freaking stop. They slow down so people can get off but never come to a complete stop. That came a little bit as a shock to me.
- Wuhan is still probably more developed than many parts of China
- Although most people can speak Putonghua (normal Mandarin), there is also a Wuhan dialect. I can’t really understand it and can only catch a few words here and there. The tones, pronunciation, and some vocabulary is different.