Harry, a soft-spoken Chinese fellow (30-ish) met us at the airport. We walked for miles and miles to reach our awaiting bus, which smelled bad: between burned electrical wiring and forgotten musty rags.
We asked him to use the microphone as he choked off facts about Wuhan during the drive, but still he didn’t project. In fact, speaking louder would not have helped his English. He sounded as if he had a hot potato in his mouth and was the least confident guide to date. The bus trip took forever before we reached our destination.
- Population Wuchan: 12 million
- It takes 2-1/2 hours to drive from East to West Wuchan
- Three towns joined into one in 1927 and called Wuchan
- This is an educational standard next to Beijing: 87 universities; Wuchan has 69 universities
- Smallest college in Wuchan has 8,000 students and the largest has 50,000
- A total of 1.5 million students in the city of Wuchan
- So far, our bus drivers have made U-turns as a matter of course
The three main industries are:
- Steel and iron (10 square kilometers)
- Automobile factories: Citron (since 1993 venture with France), also with Honda and Toyota
- Main industry, state-owned factory: tobacco. Produces cigarettes. Pays the second most tax next to Citron manufacturing.
- 1-pack = 10 cigarettes
- $3.50 USD for cheapest ones and locals smoke these
- Special cigarettes are exported: sold by carton of 10 packages: 3,000 Yuan or $500.00 USD
- Factory located 80 kilometers outside Wuchan
- Most important social skills in China: smoking and drinking
- Legal drinking age is 16, same as eligibility for a driver’s license
- China white wine very strong: 35 to 43% (sounds closer to white lightening than wine)
- In northern China, one famous brand 70 to 75% (rice wine, high alcohol content). Only the people in northern China drink this because it’s cold there.
- Chinese saying, “If you run out of oil for the hot pot, just pour in some wine.”
- Traffic is terrible after 9:00 p.m. as the bars open
- The bars are loud and packed with young people (9:00 till midnight); the older generation can’t stand the noise
- Life isn’t much different for the young people in the east from the west.
- Square dancing is popular with Seniors, who enjoy it mornings and evenings in the parks
- Young people don’t like the sound of the loud dance music on weekends because they like to sleep late.
This is square dancing? I wonder why they call it that?
June is the beginning of summer. The average temperature is 30 degrees Celsius. There are three ‘ovens’ (also called furnaces) in this area:
Six-and-a-half to seven months of the year, everyone wears Tee shirts in Wuchan because of the heat and humidity. A historical record high of 48 degrees Celsius occurred in 2006. Usual temperature is 44 or 45 degrees. When it gets this hot, school and work are cancelled, a policy made ten years ago. Everyone now has air conditioning to combat the heat.
Harry came only as far as the dock and then, vanished. Dark had fallen some time ago. The cruise ship glowed in the distance like a mirage, outlined with tiny white lights. Slam. Bang. Clatter. We dragged our luggage down long planks of wood and sheets of steel. The ship’s crew members shone flashlights and cautioned us to watch our step at intervals along the way. At long last we boarded, and were handed heated hand towels and tea or apple juice.
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Something extra for you:
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Next on December 5, On the Yangtze River, Day 13, Part 1
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