Day 8-9-10 –
UPDATE: We have figured out the pictures a little. Click here for a fun slideshow of our pictures from Wuhan.
Bob: Beijing was a tourist city, when you stepped out of the hotel or off the bus, vendors appeared out of nowhere selling everything under the sun. Wuhan is the total opposite, here we are in an incredibly modern city of 11 million people that we never heard of, there are no souvenir vendors, and we are basically ignored. And there are not too many big noses here (what the Chinese people call Caucasians). We are staying in a 5 star hotel, and we have never been so well attended to in our lives. There is a person assigned to everything. As near as I can tell, they are working at demolishing the old dingy four story buildings and putting up high rise apartments. The streets are crowded with autos, traffic flow is handled very nicely, lots of red lights, turn lanes, informative flashing signs (in Chinese). Very hazy, but I don’t think it is pollution, just haze like the great Smokey mountains in USA. Yangtze River runs through the middle of Wuhan and there are lakes everywhere, but no mosquitoes, I wonder how they do that.
We have been in a couple of modern department stores, Carrefour is the Chinese equivalent of Costco, very modern packaged foods just like USA and same brands in a lot of cases, bakery, prepared foods (although definitely Chinese), clothes, appliances, bar code checkout, everything in a modern atmosphere. By total contrast, Walking down a small blvd, we saw an iron gate leading into a side alley which was an open air food market, fruit and vegetables, live fish, crabs, frogs, turtles, eels, chickens and lord knows what else, total contrast to the Carrefour. There are obviously two strata of citizens here, the old generation which lives in the squalid apartment buildings which are maybe 4 stories high and shops in the sidewalk markets and the new generation which drives cars, shops in Carrefour and lives in a 30 story high rise.
Stopped in front of a real estate office (just like CA?) 1000 sq ft “used” apartment costs 30,000 yuan and has 4 rooms. Figure that one out. 8 yuan to the dollar. Our guide says that one of the brand new apartments in a new high rise with a river view costs 10,000 yuan per sq meter. Works out to about 1,000,000 yuan for 1000 sq ft. (125,000 USD).
We also stopped in a little bakery, typical with so many employees, one girl figures out the cost, another girl makes the change, I handed my money to the girl who figured out the cost and the change girl snatched it.
Today, Friday, we made an expedition to the River Beach Park on the shore of the Yangtze River, this is a beautiful park several kilometers long filled with statues and trees and grass (a rarity in these large cities). R and M were carrying the twins and you would think they were celebrities, so many curious people crowded around. We got some Yangtze River water and earth to take home, according to Chinese lore, this will bring luck and good fortune to always have a little piece of their homeland. And then we went to the biggest and fanciest Chinese restaurant that I have ever seen, the dining area must have been 100 yards long and 10 yards wide. Tai Zi (Prince) Restaurant. Four parking attendants in gold braided uniforms out front, parking the Buicks and Fords and Mercedes and Hondas. And our guide ordered us quite a feast, several things that I have never heard of. The final dish was a fish on a platter, somehow the flesh was braided into sticks to make the fish look like a porcupine, quite incredible. By the way, the local beer (Snow beer) is quite good. Total cost, 449 yuan (about $50) for 11 people and 4 kids. So we can eat in the 5 star dining room for $20 for the buffet, $5 at a fancy restaurant, and if we had the nerve, probably $1 at the street stalls. Something for everybody.
By the way, the French have a presence in China, especially in Wuhan which is where the French Consulate is located. All the taxis are Citroens, the airlines have a lot of airbuses, and apparently talks are going on about nuclear power. In fact, we are sharing the streets with Jacque Chirac for the last couple days. Yesterday, we saw this really big motorcade of black cars and vans full of policemen going down the street and today when we came back to our hotel, Chirac was in the dining room and the place was crawling with security. There was a half inch thick red carpet laid down from the curb, through the lobby and into the dining room.
Day 8 – We received the precious girls yesterday and they couldn’t sleep the first night, therefore M didn’t sleep either. It is tough to be a new parent with 22 pound twins. We had to leave the hotel at 8:45 to go to the interview for new parents. Well, we left at 9:30 and just barely. The grand parents look like pack horses for the new parents and their daughters, but that’s why we came to support them in all ways. Of course I was very emotional at the interview especially when they asked M questions regarding the girls’ future. R and M are doing a great job for new parents in a very different kind of situation. They are ordering room service because they can’t leave the room yet.
Day 9 – M and R and the girls leave the room to go to breakfast. Everyone loves seeing the twins. Grandparents went on a bus trip to a department store for clothes for the girls. Now this was a bit confusing. I had to pick out my articles get a bill from each little counter and then go to a cashier to pay and get a receipt. Then I had to remember where I picked out my items and give the clerk my receipt before I could get my purchased items. What an ordeal. Then we went to the basement for the grocery items. Bob found a jar of salsa for R, yea.
The girls are dressed in cute denim jumpers and off to lunch in the hotel. They take R and M and the girls to a special room in the back with a divider. I wonder why?
All the Chinese children walk by and say “Hello”. Many shops were cooking in front of their little shops. People were on their way home from work and eating from the shops or taking the food home. Found a neat street for shopping and looking. Passed a line of people paying money and receiving a different stub of a ticket. Then they went to the next line where there was a large cauldron about 4 feet in diameter with sections like pieces of pie and a center of boiling broth. In each section there was a different type of sauce and meat or fish. The clerk had a cone shaped basket with a long handle full of noodles. She would dip them in the broth and put them in a bag for the customer, very strange
Then we found an alley that was an open food market. Oh my! There were bins of live shrimp, fish, eels, turtles, frogs and crabs. It was quite a place, no I didn’t buy anything but we washed the soles of shoes when we returned and then wiped them with handi wipes.
Back to the hotel and dinner time. This time all 6 adults went since Ro knocked R’s dish on the floor at lunch, they needed help. I love it. What a difference in the girls, lots of smiles, teasing and facial expressions. They love to eat.