At least according to traditional Chinese medicine (and my friend). Thus, I’ve slept with raw, split onions in my socks for some nights now. It’s supposed to ease the flow of qi, the life force. I haven’t noticed any huge differences in my vitality levels, but apparently it makes one oblivious to hunger or thirst. I spent a day in Hankou without really eating or drinking anything — I didn’t feel the need to. It’s also possible that the mental focus on the experiences caused me to ignore the signals sent to my head by my stomach. It certainly wouldn’t be the first nor presumably the last time. 😀

Some days ago I discovered I have a roommate, two actually, in the form of arachnids. The first one I named Ben, and he’s living behind my headboard. He’s burly and very unobtrusive, and lets me sleep while he’s hunting. I’ve never found him in my bed, even though he’s probably been living here since I arrived. The other one I named Vilma, and she’s living in my shower. She resembles a cranefly. She seems to prefer humid spaces, and likes to dangle from her cobweb when there are droplets hitting it as I shower. She’s certainly more playful than Ben is. It seems that something in my room attracts arthropods. I don’t keep any leftovers there, so I wonder what the reason could be. I also had a quick visit from a centipede, who crawled out of my electric socket. He was very tall, about 12 cm, and moved very quickly. Sadly, he disappeared out of my door before I had the chance to inspect him further. (Yes, I keep my door open when I’m at home.) I suspect he is a Lithobius forficatus. At least he looked and behaved like one.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithobius_forficatus

The day in Hankou consisted mostly of curiosity-fuelled exploration. I’m really grateful for the independent studies, because they allow you to recalibrate your focus when you’re fed up with studying alone. Wen is very grateful as well: she usually goes exploring the city alone. Most of my classmates have rigid schedules, but occasionally some of them come along. There was an art installation at the bottom floor of a newish shopping centre. I was thrilled when I noticed that there was a grand piano store! And they let me try out the instruments!! I’ve really missed the flow of just playing and forgetting everything else. Different instruments have their own different personalities, and we spent a long time just playing and having fun. The shopkeeper seemed very happy to hear some music as well, as he said he himself couldn’t play.

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The Diet Coke Rhapsody. For some reason, the tune ” D-D-T is good for me-e-eee!” started to play in my head when I spotted this. 😀

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This is nothing less than brilliant. Romantically impaired(?) people like me just found the perfect way of conveying devotion. 😀

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This is the future. 😀

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If you’re struck by a sudden need for karaoke singing, there are about 1 m2 -booths for this next to the entrance.

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Example dishes made of plastic. They look uncannily real.

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Either you love it or you hate it, but you can’t ignore this overwhelmingly, disgustingly sweet installation.

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Wen inspecting egg tarts. They look and taste like Portuguese pasteis de nata. I wonder if the Portuguese got the idea from the Chinese. Much like the Italians, who were introduced to “pizza” and “pasta” by an explorer they sent to China, namely Marco Polo. Most people nowadays think pizza and pasta are Italian inventions. Their origin is in fact in China, more specifically the Sichuan/Qinghai area, where Marco Polo spent a lot of time during his Middle Kingdom crusade. An ingredient neither the Italians nor the Portuguese now have in their food repertoire, though, is the durian. Durian is labelled the world’s smelliest fruit (although it can taste okay if you get past the smell), and for a good reason. The smell is described as a mix of garlic, strawberries, and human feces together. I’d say this is a fairly accurate description. This fruit is not widely sold in Europe, and it’s forbidden to eat it in public in Malaysia and Singapore. I can see — or in this case smell — why. Now imagine me biting into one of the egg tarts Wen bought from the stand, the tart looking totally innocent — not knowing that the tart was labelled “Durian egg tart”. 0.5 seconds later, Wen probably had the laugh of her life. 😀

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Such beauties at the grand piano shop. The price is not too bad either.

The featured image shows a residential gate in Tanhualin, which is a district in Wuchang Wen is especially fond of. Students sometimes kiss the figurines, because the name of the house owner is “Qian” (according to the sign on top of the gate) which means money. They think they’ll be prosperous if they do this. There used to be Swedish Christian priests living in the area about 150 years ago, and there is even a Christian church still in use at the Tanhualin hill. The architecture in some areas in Wuhan looks remarkably European, and many domestic tourists visit Wuhan just to have a look at the Western-style buildings, parks and streets.

The streets come alive with lanterns and people at night, when the temperature drops. As a night snack, as we strolled along the narrow streets, we had another traditional Chinese snack which I’ve never seen in European “Chinese” restaurants, called tangbao 汤包, literally “soup bag”. There is a broth inserted into a ball of dough, which is then steamed. It’s delicious, and if you go to a Chinese restaurant, ask the waiter/ess for tangbao, or just baozi (no broth). If they don’t have this, or can’t make them, they’re more than probably fake Chinese! 😀

Mili

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