My visit to Wuhan was short - only a weekend, but I was lucky enough to see the best sites and eat the best food as my friend knew her city very well and has much experience in showing visitors around. She soldiered on and insisted that we experience the best Wuhan has to offer even though it rained solidly the whole time. The rain did not thwart our plans at all, although we did spend a while looking for wellies in a shopping mall - unsuccessfully though as apparently they are only sold in child sizes (adults considering them not fashionable enough to wear!).
The first thing that struck me about this city was its size. It took an hour for me to get from the airport to the town centre on the coach. Ying says the city is continually under development and changes dramatically every time she goes home (about once a year). I have gotten used to construction sites- they are very common in every city it seems. We often have to avoid a pulled-up pavement on our way to work, only to find it laid back down with no visible changes made at all the next day. Whether the purpose of these activities is to provide pseudo work for the creation of jobs or simply for the sake of having something to do remains unclear.
Our first stop in Wuhan was the Huáng Hè Lóu (Yellow Crane Tower). This tower was constructed in ancient times and has been added to by each dynasty that has ruled China. They have models of the tower from each dynasty to the present day, where it now stands overlooking the Yangtze River- a collaboration of China's history in a single tower.
Outside many historical buildings in China stand two dragons/lions at either side of the entrance, one male (holding a sphere under its paw) and the other female (holding a cub under its paw). They symbolise protection against evil.
The tower doubles as a museum, with beautiful artefacts on display and each floor offering a more spectacular view of the river and the city.
The significance of the yellow crane is down to legend: one of Ancient China's immortals flew back to the heavens on a yellow crane, leaving the tower behind as a testament to his departure. The curved yellow roofs are designed to imitate the wings of a crane.
The tower is also made famous by the poets who wrote at the tower or were inspired by it. It is one of China's four great towers. The top floor is dedicated to poetry: a fully equipped room with desks, huge calligraphy brushes and ink reserved for only the most noteworthy poets to use.
Some of the most beautiful paintings I have seen covered the walls and ceilings.
The area surrounding the tower is just as picturesque and it was easy to imagine the poets of old wondering the gardens, pondering the meaning of life under low lying tree branches.
Wuhan has some of the most delightful displays of cherry blossoms, their beauty shining all the brighter against the dull sky.
The bridge is a very significant one: the first ever to be built across the mighty Yangtze, it was an accomplishment that cost many lives in order to open up trade between the north and south of China, and connect the 3 towns of Wuhan, previously separated by the Y-shaped river. Completed in 1957 it has stood firm, a solid 1,670 meters long and six lanes wide, the only way to cross the river besides by boat for many years. Seen from the opposite side, the town on the far side is only a faint watermark on the horizon - dwarfing Britain's river Thames by miles.