[hubei] day 1: jane eyre time

Rolling into Wuhan at the crack of dawn on October 4th, our first item on the agenda was to catch a glimpse of Wuhan University, famous for the #1 most beautiful campus in China. It was indeed very pretty, and even more so for its primo location next to the East Lake, yet somehow I managed to find zero Flickr-worthy shots of it on my camera. Apparently we also went at the wrong time to see the cherry blossoms which coat the campus in the spring. But really, it was a delightful shady green place to watch old people move slowly and determinedly, as they are wont to do in the mornings.

We also really wanted to check out the Hubei Provincial Museum:


But the line was out the wazoo (seriously, couldn't even find a good place to photograph it, it was so long), so we went to the art museum instead, where an exhibition of the winners of a national modern art competition were on display.






The guy taking the photo probably doesn't realize that there's a real live foreigner right behind him, either that or he's actually interested in the brushstrokes. As it happens, I get photographed by Chinese pretty regularly, but it's not often I get an opportunity to take a photo of someone taking a photo of a painting painted from a snapshot of a foreigner!

We also saw some interesting sculpture.

After that we went off to Yellow Crane Tower, which we paid 50 yuan to see, because it was supposed to be famous. I guess it was okay.


The man in the left foreground is engaging in the traditional Chinese pastime of photographing-your-girlfriend-next-to-something-naturey. Look it up, it's a thing!

I, meanwhile, prefer to take my travel snapshots next to golden busts of controversial heads-of-state:


Usually Mao likenesses are gargantuan, hardly-huggable statues, so naturally I had to seize this opportunity. But seriously, what is a Mao bust doing at the base of Yellow Crane Tower? That would be like putting a bust of Jerry Falwell at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Sort of. Okay, that's not my best analogy.

Finally, we called the Wuhan PiA fellows and had a nice meal near Wuhan University of Technology, where they are employed. And by "nice" I mean we had a private dining room with a full time attendant and private bathroom. With a Western toilet. So, pretty opulent by our normal standards.

On our way to Wuhan Tech, Jon and I saw this western restaurant named "Jane Eyre Time":


I could make another translation puzzle out of this, but I'll go ahead and spoil the surprise. The standard translation of "Jane Eyre" in Chinese is "简爱" (jiǎn ài) because of the phonetic similarity, but the phrase also means "simple love". So the restauranteurs probably wanted to name their place "Simple Love Time" (which is still a pretty weird name, actually) but it came out "Jane Eyre Time". Which, like most funny translations, would be a great band name.

The next day we traveled to Wudang Shan, a Daoist mountain in northwestern Hubei. I already have the witty title for that post ready; it's going to knock your flipping socks off.