Back in Beijing, from Wuhan

After spending the last three days in Wuhan (武汉), i am back in freezing Beijing again. Prior to leaving Wuhan, Steve Yau, Du Xincun (IBMers from Hong Kong and Beijing respectively) and i got a short tour of Wuhan. Wuhan is actually the combination of two cities, Wuchang (武昌) and Hankou (汉口). Hankou is north of the Yangzi river while Wuchang is south of the river. In the old days, to go between the cities, you would have to catch a ferry. Now, there are two bridges that spanned across the mighty Yangzi river. I was told that eventually, there will be a tunnel and 5 other bridges across the river in Wuhan. The three days i was in Wuhan, there was this constant haze that surrounded the city. I am not sure if it was polluted air or the humidity but i suspect it was the combination of both.

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Our friendly cab driver was acting as a temporary tour guide for us. He explained the historical significance of this region. He took us on a tour of the East Lake (东湖) and dropped us off at the Yellow Crane Tower (黄鹤楼). He waited for us while we spent about 45 minutes at the Yellow Crane Tower. The original tower was destroyed toward the end of the Qing dynasty. This new one is rebuilt back in 1985 and it’s not located at the original location.

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On our way to the Wuhan airport, the cab driver pointed us to some really weird-looking houses on our right. They were weird in the sense that most of them looked like they were not completely built. Most of them, i did not see any doors or windows. The cab driver told us that the farmers in those area do not grow plants, they “grow” houses. The reason behind that is if you have houses on your land, when the city needs to use your land for other development, they will not only have to pay for your land, they will also have to pay for any houses on your land.

I have been eating great the last few days. In fact, i have been eating really well since i have been here. In every meal, i have to say more than 80% of the dishes were new to me. The IBM reps in Wuhan invited us and the client for two consecutive nights. I learned something during the second dinner. If the person giving you a toast is in a higher position than you, you should always tip your glass lower than his when the glasses meet. I did not know about this until the second dinner. God knows how many people i had offended during the first dinner!

Do you know that there are Chinese cigarettes that cost $8 USD a pack ? I did not believe it until it was shown to me. Apparently, these cigarettes are only made for consumption of party officials and they are not easily available to the general public.

Updated 1/2/2006
Wuhan is actually a combination of three cities, not two. The city i left out is Hanyang (汉阳).

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