Friday, March 14, 2008
Our First Trip to China Oct '03-Part III
The capital of Hubei Province, with a population of over 7 million, is the largest city in Central China, which is comprised of three towns, Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang, divided by the Yangtze and Han River. Since we are a day early for the conference we check in to a 5 star hotel, before we were to be escorted to the conference hotel the next day. There was no source of news while on the boat. We caught up on our email and I found out who won the World Series. We also got HBO and CNN on TV and caught up on world events. We found a Hong Kong newspaper where we learned of the death of Madam Chaing Kai Shek, something not a major news worthy event in China. I myself was not fully aware of the history of this woman until I read a complete history of her in the newspaper. She was a mover and shaker. Her sister was married to Sun Yak Sen, the Chinese leader before Chaing Kai Shek.
The Huhan conference is more directed at treatment rather than prevention. Most of the HIV cases around here are apparently related to selling of blood. Judith’s talk is about the high risk women experience as related to drugs and sex so I am thinking it should open some naive eyes here. However, it may not because I think there normal response would be that it won’t happen here.
Again we are staying at a government 3 star hotel, but it is nicer than the one in Jilin City. It has CNN on TV and the beds are OK. We were able to get to a couple of neat tourist places. We are anxious to leave because the heavy pollution is starting to make our throats sore.
A few words on Chinese traffic and driving habits should also be noted. It is the worst, by far, I have ever experienced anywhere in the world. True, the cars, vans, and buses are shared with bicycles and a few motorcycles, but the roads have a lane at the side of the road for bicycles and occasional carts. There are painted lines on the roads, but one wonders why. They won’t even serve as guide lines. The drivers try to make 3 lanes out of 2, they cut cars off, and they don’t wait for a clear spot to turn left. Instead they just push there vehicle into oncoming traffic and make them stop or serve to avoid them. Pedestrians are to blame also as they sometimes walk in traffic lanes directly toward traffic and mostly just cross the street or highway when ever they want to without looking first. Drivers are expected to avoid them in the same way bicycles avoid them. As a result divers as always honking their hones to warn other they are coming, they are passing, or to get the hell out of the way. Complete chaos reins and the traffic deaths are very high. It got so I could not watch ahead. America and most of northern Europe have the best traffic systems in the world, the most efficient and least stressful.
One thing we liked in Wuhan was the Yellow Crane Tower. It 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.
Idyllic scenes are visible near the base of the tower, once you climb up the hill.
From the top of the tower, you can see a huge bell which is rung for good luck. And the smog is very visible also.
You can click on this picture to expand it as you can with most pictures on this and other posts.
The sign on the left says "Organism Rubbish" The sign on the right says "Poison and Evil Rubbish".
The pollution in Wuhan is terrible. We are glad to leave.
We stayed at the Peninsula Palace which is within walking distance of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. This must be the best hotel in China. Plenty of English channels on TV, 110 Volt outlets, free in-room high speed internet access. We went through the Forbidden City and went shopping close to the Beijing Hotel. There are about 3 blocks of shops here where you can buy almost anything at prices that are about 1/3 less than in the U.S. This probably because China has kept their exchange rate artificially low in order to increase exports. However, next time we will bring an empty suitcase to fill with shopping items acquired.
Pollution was not bad the first day here, but on the day we left, it was very bad. We were very glad to get on the plane for the 12 hour flight home. We arrived at our 6 star dwelling, tired and relieved to be home.