Sightseeing in Wuhan
July 8, 2009 § 2 Comments
The next day Melody’s adorable father made us a breakfast of yellow noodles with this black sauce called reganmian. It was good but I don’t usually have an appetite in the morning so I didn’t each much. Melody’s parents were so nice and cute and treated me very well. They only spoke Wuhan dialect though so even though they could understand what I was saying, I could barely understand what they were saying. Sometimes I would hear a new word that I had never learned before and repeat it but Melody would just start cracking up. When I asked her why, she replied that I was saying those words and phrases with a Wuhan accent. My accent is already really weird anyway though so I don’t think it will affect my Mandarin that much.
OH! Okay, so a lot of people have been asking me how good my Mandarin is and how much I can understand here. I was talking to Amy about this the other day and what I said is that my Mandarin is like a field of land mines. You know there are mines there but you have no idea when or where one will explode. In that sense, I have a basic understanding of the language and can communicate simple things (think, 5 year old level) but once in a while I will know really random but advanced words or sentence structures. The reason for this is that our textbook at Berkeley was divided by random (but interesting) topics like Chinese holidays, Relationships between a girl and boy, Hospital, etc. With each chapter we learned different grammatical structures and related vocabulary. That is why I know how to say things like, “set off fireworks,” “jealousy,” and “have surgery.” But on the other hand, I don’t know how to ask for tape or sissors, or give directions. To be honest, I don’t think my speaking ability has improved at all during my time here. I think I spoke more correctly and with more accurate tones while I was studying the language. However, my listening comprehension got a little better after going to Wuhan because it was more natural for them to speak in Mandarin, especially since they were with all their friends. While I was in Shanghai, I mostly spoke English because Amy, Da Jo Ma, and Da Jo Jo all have very good English. In conclusion, my Mandarin is still really caustic to the ear, messy, and haphazard, but I want to study hard to make it better. I don’t have time right now to review all my vocabulary and look up the correct tones so currently I’m just trying to be coherent. It’s amazing how much you can get away with by just stringing together a line of words without any grammatical structures. lol. If I was speaking English this is probably what I would sound like, “I need. charge. cell phone. Have card?” or “Quiet. Clean. Fun. I like.”
Most of the people I meet say my Mandarin is good for about two years of study but I think they are just surprised that I know any at all. It’s like when a foreigner says three words in your language and you get really excited and flattered. There was this one time though that we were riding a taxi and the driver was like, “Ugh, why is her Mandarin so bad?” thinking that I was a Chinese person until Leo told him that I was a Korean that grew up in America. The driver kept on sneaking glances at me though until he said, “Well, she still looks Chinese” as if Leo would lie to him. This whole time I was chatting with Melody but noticed the furtive glances and so asked Leo what happened after we got off the taxi. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing that I blend in well in China.
Anyway, after breakfast Melody and I set off for the Hubei Museum.
It was really nice and interesting but my stomach started hurting a lot so I couldn’t really enjoy it. I don’t think my stomach hurt because of the food I ate, but just the fact that I ate so early in the morning. My body isn’t used to having to digest things at 8:00am in the morning becuase I am not in the habit of eating breakfast. During this time I was pretty miserable and seriously considered going back to Shanghai that day. Wuhan was hot, dirty, my stomach was hurting, and I was with (at that time) relative strangers so the thought of going back to a nice, air conditioned house with people that already knew and loved seemed so tempting. I felt so weak and selfish while I was considering it though because I had already committed to a four day trip but I reasoned that my health was the most important thing and that if I wasn’t feeling better by the next day, I would go back. In the end, the expensive fee to change the ticket convinced me to stay but if I had really been feeling sick I probably would have still gone back early.
After the museum, Melody and I met Leo for lunch at a restaurant. We were supposed to meet Megan (the other tutor for the Berkeley students) but she broke so couldn’t come out. The restaurant was alright. Their specialty is this duck noodle soup but because of my stomach, they ordered mostly vegetable dishes. We then went to Huang He Lou (Yellow Crane Tower).
Here’s some info I found on it:
Yellow Crane Tower is an imposing pagoda close to the Yangzi River. Situated at the top of Sheshan (Snake Hill), in Wuchang, the tower was originally built at a place called Yellow Crane Rock projecting over the water, hence the name. Over the centuries the tower was destroyed by fire many times, but its popularity with Wuhan residents ensured that it was always rebuilt. The current tower was completed in 1985 and its design was copied from a Qing dynasty (1644-1911) picture. The tower has 5 stories and rises to 51 meters (168ft). Covered with yellow glazed tiles and supported with 72 huge pillars, it has 60 upturned eaves layer upon layer. It is an authentic reproduction of both the exterior and interior design, with the exception of the addition of air-conditioning and an elevator.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I dressed really fobby/touristy this day. From the baseball cap to the shorts and tennis shoes, I was a fashion failure. Those are the brown shorts I got made, by the way. The cap is just to shield me from the relentless sun while the tennis shoes were the only pair of shoes I brought. lol. But whatever. It’s not like this is a fashion blog.
After Huang He Lou I decided to get a hotel instead of staying at Melody’s house again. My main reasons were that I didn’t like that I had inconvenienced her (she gave me her room) with my stay and that I really wanted air conditioning. During my four years at Berkeley I never had air conditioning but then again, it never got this hot. I felt kind of prissy and high maintenance for wanting air conditioning and felt guilty for wanting to stay in a hotel. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t rough it as well as I thought I would be able to (Allan always says that I think I’m a lot tougher than I actually am) but I had the resources, so why not? Also, because I didn’t know them that well, I felt so inhibited and knew that they probably weren’t as comfortable.
Leo and Melody helped me check into the Aiver Business Hotel in Wuhan. I still cannot get over how nice my hotel was for the price that I paid. It was about $30 USD which is a lot more in Wuhan than it is anywhere else. I have stayed in hotels in San Francisco where it cost over $100 USD and they were not nearly as nice as the one I had.
I feel like the pictures do not do the room justice. Or it could be that my judgement was biased because of my air-conditioned deprived state. At that point I would have taken a closet as long as it had air conditioining. Anyway, it was clean, cold, had a television, and all mine! I felt much better about the trip after getting my hotel room. I felt so free and uninhibited and could sit however I wanted and just sprawl on the bed without abandon.
Melody and Leo were the perfect hosts and helped me from check-in to check-out. They would also pick me up in the mornings and drop me off at night. Leo even texted me the first night saying not to go outside or open the door for anyone. Melody also wouldn’t go until she saw me all the way into the room. lol. They took such good care of me while I was there.
After resting for a bit, Melody and a friend of theirs called Guang Guang, came and picked me up to go to a 小吃(snack) outdoor market. Oh! I didn’t have anymore money (cash) on me so Melody and Guang Guang paid for our snacks. Ah. Okay, so what happened is that I only took about 800 yuan ($120 USD) in cash because I had asked Melody how much I needed to bring and she said not much. But because I had gotten a hotel (unanticipated cost) and they didn’t take American Visa, I had to pay for the room and an extra deposit in cash. By that time the banks were closed so I couldn’t even convert any money (I had brought $100 USD in case of an emergency). It was funny though because Guang Guang said that it didn’t matter and that I would get to see the legendary Chinese man’s hospitality.
Some of the snacks we tried:
I didn’t eat that much though. 1. Because I didn’t want to upset my stomach again and 2. I didn’t want to spend someone else’s money.
After that we went to go walk along the Yangtze River. It was pretty but all my pictures came out black because it was too dark. We saw a lot of people lighting these red, mini hot air balloons that were supposed to make your wish come true.
After that they dropped me off at the hotel to rest up for another exciting day. More will follow soon…