My friend is snoring soundly next to me as I’m writing this. I certainly let her sleep, she’s still about five hours behind me and it means I also have some time to write in the blog. We had an adventurous start to our adventure, when she was still on her way here and got stuck for four hours with the Hong Kong border control. She finally arrived at Tianhe Airport in the middle of the night. At the same time, as I was going to meet her, I fainted from low blood pressure in the underground. I’ve never fainted before, and it was interesting (as much as you can experience a loss of consciousness as interesting). I just gradually realised I was lying on the floor, with people asking me “ni hao bu hao?” and there were immediately three station guards at the platform with hot water. I really appreciate this aspect of the Chinese culture, where the social order is restored as quickly as possible. If the same thing happened in Finland, some people would probably let you lie there thinking you’re another drunk. 😀
Everything ended well and we arrived at the place we’re staying at, tired and happy. I’m very glad to have my friend here. We went asleep immediately, after deciding to go and check out the food markets and the East Lake the next day. Our action plan consists of taking it easy, with no real time schedule. This is the best way to have a good holiday here because literally everything from the tiniest social gesture to the biggest downtown skyscraper is a new experience and takes energy to process, especially for my friend. Hu Bu Xiang is the official breakfast street in Wuchang, and we started our exploratory journey there. We tried out some octopus on a stick, durian fruit and tapioca-laden “juice”. My friend soon realised why durian could be considered a bad investment. 😀 After our little adventure in the food halls we strolled at a leisurely Chinese pace through narrow residential streets towards the waterfront. The sky was clear and we descended down to the bank. As we ventured stepping on the stones, we met some retired Chinese engineers and teachers who were doing their daily swim across the river to Hankou. The swim takes about 30 minutes. We had a really nice conversation, and they gave us good advice how to spend our time, eating rè gan mían and swimming in the Yangtze river. They were intrigued by our strange appearances. My friend has naturally red hair and freckles, and my own hair and complexion are transparent. We experienced some funny moments when each of them wanted to take pictures with us, them standing on a stone while we stood on the ground (we were equally tall then). They gave us some nuts and asked us to come back soon. We continued our exploration by the bank, and then we decided to check out the East Lake. However, at the university we were distracted by the beauty of the Luojia mountain, and decided to ascend it instead. There are lots of good climbing trees and rocks, and there are foxes — possibly other animals as well — living on the mountain. We saw one as we descended, playing with two golden retrievers, their owners walking behind us towards the lake. It seemed they knew each other. The fox looked very young, apparently of this year’s cohort, and it hadn’t learned to be afraid of either dogs or humans.
After our hike we decided to have dinner at the lakeside, as darkness was starting to fall and I figured we wouldn’t have enough time to bike around the lake before it would be too hard to see anything. We went to the restaurant Wen and her family had taken me and my friends to some weeks ago. We had bamboo sprouts cooked in tea, tofu and Chinese mushroom stew, vegetarian omelette and durian rolls. We didn’t know they were durian rolls, otherwise it’s possible that they would have been left unordered. 😀 My friend pointed out that a cook peered at us at regular intervals from the round kitchen door window. They don’t see Europeans here very often, so it’s understandable. I’ll update the blog with pictures and and tell you the rest (so far) tomorrow. This was the first day of our adventure. The image uploading doesn’t work so well here in Hankou.