Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

My stories 01: That time in San Francisco

From time to time I remember random bits and pieces from my trip to Boston, San Francisco, and Vancouver in 2017. Earlier, the walk by the waterfront near Fisherman’s Wharf flashed in my head, and the feelings were as prominent as ever. That evening, I took the ferry to Sausalito, but by the time I got there, it was already dark (around 6 pm in mid-November) and there wasn’t much to see. I ended up only staying for maybe an hour before heading back to San Francisco. Then I contemplated whether to walk from the ferry terminal to Pier 39 or take the bus or tram, and eventually decided to walk. It was not a short walk, but it was pleasant as I had the entire time all to myself. When I arrived at Pier 39 (I had originally wanted to skip going altogether because I thought it was probably overhyped), it was a lot quieter than I had expected, without many visitors. I guess that only made sense, as it was already what, 8:30 pm? 9 pm? I don’t remember. Many shops were closing for the evening and the buskers have called it a day – I heard there were buskers, at least. The place even felt a little desolate and melancholic but…I somehow enjoyed the atmosphere. Maybe that was how I already felt, and the environment merely reflected the state of my heart. After a brief wander, it was time to eat a late dinner. I again had to make a decision, this time between expensive fish and chips and the never-failing McDonald’s. Of course, I chose the latter…did that surprise you?! Finally, I took the tram from the wharf and went back to the hostel, ending an entire day spent alone. I don’t know why these scenes from that particularly ordinary evening surfaced in my memory, but it was one of those little moments where I felt completely content in spite of the melancholy, perhaps for no reason at all aside from the luxury of freedom and self-fulfillment.

A stroll by the waterfront near the San Francisco ferry terminal in the evening – dazzling urban lights always mesmerize and impress me!

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December 2018

With the end of 2018 also came the end of December…or it really should be the other way around, but I like a little bit of plot twist 😉 The monthly photos continue as Wuhan entered winter in full swing, without central heating of course as we’re considered to be in the “southern” part of China according to the heating division. It’s harsh, alright, very harsh, but what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger! Here is December 2018 in nine photos.

Dining at Hutaoli, a (sort of) fancy restaurant with nice decorations and atmosphere. They pride themselves on the live musical performances, which are nice, but it’s definitely not a place to be if you want a quiet, intimate chat with friends because the music is SO LOUD. I guess the point is to try to mimic the style of a bar, so it isn’t somewhere I’d like to go often!

Friends with whom I dined at Hutaoli. On the left: my PhD labmates JJ (front) and YF (back). On the right: J (front) and me (back). JJ and YF are both from Wuhan, and we reunited here years after we all graduated!

A random cat that I encountered in a parking lot at Wuhan University. Not sure that it was impressed that I was taking photos of it and getting closer and closer by the second…

Photo taken by J when he went on his morning run – yes, even in the snow! First snow of this winter season but the final one of the year, and I didn’t even realized that it snowed so hard until after I got up (much later than did J). So cold, but so beautiful!

View of the neighbourhood in my residential complex from the window of my flat on the 11th floor. The snow didn’t make it for a white Christmas, but it was just in time for the new year! Traffic that morning was horrendous, and whereas it normally takes me about 20 minutes to get to church by bus, it took almost an hour T_T

Taking a short stroll around the residential complex in the evening, I passed by a lone lamp that lit up the frigid air. It was probably around 1 or 2 degrees Celsius, nothing compared to the -20s in Canada, but it was still freezing!!!

A trip to Shenzhen in the TRUE south of China in mid-December (warmth!) brought me to the summit of Lianhua (Lotus) Hill, where I was able to get an amazing panoramic view of the most prosperous area of Shenzhen. There was supposed to be a light show that got cancelled the day that I went, but since I didn’t know of it beforehand, I wasn’t disappointed because I didn’t expect it anyway.

Obligatory selfie with J! This is me going, “Why is it so cold in Wuhan 😦 I miss central heating 😦 😦 😦 ” J’s response was probably something like, “Hurry up and take the selfie so I don’t have to pretend I’m holding some sort of pose XD “

This photo was taken at the worst angle as it reveals without mercy the chubbiness of my face, but it was the only angle that was able to capture the Duomo Cathedral (not a real cathedral, but it mimics Notre-Dame de Paris) with the Christmas tree in front of it. Once again J was like, “Are you done with your selfies yet -_-” but no J, one can never take enough selfies, especially with the one you love!

And that’s all, folks, for 2018. It’s only day 2 and I’m already looking forward to the Chinese new year and going back home to Canada in exactly one month! 19 more work days to go – wait for me, my home!

November 2018

As I was walking this morning I thought, “The only time that I liked the city that I live in now was when I didn’t live here.” Sounds pessimistic, I know, but the air this morning smelt disgustingly of grease and gloominess (was it smog?) to the point where I wanted to puke, and at that moment I couldn’t gather up any pretension to say that I liked the city. Oh well, it’s the end of November, and it’s been a tough one, but we got through it safe and sound, thanks be to God! One more month till 2019…let’s go for it!

Third time in Macau. Away from the casinos and central tourist spots, Macau has maintained its history and traditions in hidden alleys and little-known districts. The red sign with the golden words says “Back in the day” in Chinese.

Annual chrysanthemum festival (one of the locations) in Wuhan, where the flowers bloom for weeks in the autumn. Such beautiful colours!

An insect on a leaf, caught while I was taking a stroll outdoors after lunch. Little details like this remind me of how much I loved taking photos of random things, the process during which I could sharpen my senses toward the world around me.

Sumptuous buffet in Macau, courtesy of my local friend and her family. Unlimited servings of lobster, scallops (and other types of seafood), sashimi, sushi…among other varieties of delicious food – indulgent and luxurious!

Another meal in Macau: traditional dim sum (or yum cha, as we call it in Cantonese). This famous family-owned restaurant, Long Wah, is well known for its cha siu, or roasted pork (red in the center). Of course I also had to order my favourite, steamed spare ribs. You could never get too much dim sum!

Speaking of ribs, another spare ribs dish that I love very much is the garlic deep-fried spare ribs. I don’t know what the secret is to this dish, but the first time I had it in Glasgow, it was instant addiction…and it tasted even better in China!!

Movie night with the boss and the colleagues at a mini private theater. Good company, good times, good evening 😛

My company during the Macau day trip, TK (local friend) and LS (friend living in Zhuhai, which is literally right next to Macau). Bus selfie, cheese!

I love this man so much and I would go to the ends of the Earth for him – literally, because Toronto and Wuhan almost couldn’t be farther apart as they’re almost on the exact opposite side of the Earth as each other. It’s not been an easy month for him but we’re still fighting together. 明天加油!

October 2018

Since August this year, I’ve been posting a series of photos on my WeChat Moments at the end of each month to sum up the month. Unfortunately I don’t have the original photos for August and September anymore, so I will begin by sharing the October series here. November series coming very soon…

Trip to the Three Gorges Waterfall in the Three Gorges scenic area near Yichang in Hubei province, China, during the National Day week-long holiday. This is not the actual waterfall (which is huge at 102 m) but a small cascade that was on the way to the main attraction itself.

Dew drops on a leaf on the morning after a rainy night – the beautiful wonders of nature never cease to amaze me and bring joy to my routine everyday commute!

Fresh morning air – perhaps the only time that the air could be fresh in this polluted city.

Night in the Optics Valley area.

A fancy fountain pen set that I saw at a new bookstore that opened close to home. Normally I would probably have bought it – and I was tempted – but it was way too pricey to be anything close to worthy.

A collection of doorplates and road signs plastered on a block in the corner of an intersection in the Hankou district of Wuhan.

A dark and foggy morning – drivers would not be able to see farther than 5 m in front of their cars.

Qiaokou Road station on subway line 1, in the Hanyang district. There’s a stretch of line 1 that is completely overground, and being able to see the city outside the windows made the usual subway rides a lot more interesting and bearable.

A walk around Yujia Lake, and as it’s close to where I live, I’ve become quite familiar with it. A rare sunny day – not too hot and not too cold – meant that many people were out and about enjoying the weather before winter truly settled in.

Living in Wuhan – Really annoying public transit behaviours

Having already written a post about transportation in Wuhan, I didn’t think that I’d write another related post so soon. However, there are so many public transit pet peeves that frustrate me in Wuhan that I feel a need to write about them (i.e. bitch and complain about every single annoyance). I’m not even going to include things like the lack of queues the need to be the first one to get on the bus/train/subway, which seem to be universally accepted (at least in China). If I line up, I’m the one that’s not normal…I get that. But the following are behaviours I feel that would (should?) annoy every person that regularly relies on public transit (including long-distance trains and shared bikes) to get around. And I’m not only talking about passenger behaviour – drivers, too, contribute to much of the irritation. People who have been doing this for years will probably call me a petty and whiny foreigner – sure, call me that, if you could tell that I’m a foreigner!!! Anyway, this isn’t a happy post. I might write about the ups of public transit in Wuhan in another post, but let’s get the annoyances out of the way first.

Not obeying the “alight first, then board” rule. What may seem like universal common sense is not so common here. No matter how many announcements are made and how many posters are displayed, nobody ever seems to get this, making this the #1 frustration for me when I take the subway. And this is especially obvious for subways because you get on and off via the same doors, whereas for buses, you (usually) board by the front and alight from the back. The general phenomenon is that before you even get a chance to get off, people waiting by the platform are already packing their way in, regardless of whether the train is empty of crowded to the max. Solution: push and shove and squeeze furiously or you’ll probably never get OFF the subway at your stop…

Queues do not exist in Wuhan and this is as good as it gets.

Not moving inward on a crowded bus. OK, we’re all taking public transit in a shared space and everyone is grumpy and struggling. However, getting on at an earlier stop does NOT entitle you to extra space. If there are ten people trying to get on and there’s actually maneuverable space in the middle of the bus, THEN PLEASE MOVE IN. If you don’t, then I’ll get my ass on the bus and squeeze to that empty spot, no matter how crowded it is. In China, no bus is TOO crowded to a point that one person cannot get on – there are only people who are unwilling to move. Why don’t we switch places and let you see what it’s like to try to squeeze on? Be a little considerate toward your fellow travellers, please.

Not getting your QR code ready for boarding. QR scanning has become more common and convenient than public transit cards but it’s got its downsides. In particular, some people find it necessary to wait till the second they get on the bus to open up the app on their phone and retrieve their QR code. If you’re the only or final person getting on a bus that’s not so crowded, then fine, take your time getting that QR code to show up. But if there are 15 people behind you and the bus is hella crowded already, AND YOU SAW THE BUS COMING, then GET THE DAMN CODE READY BEFORE YOU BOARD to avoid blocking everyone else, or wait till everyone else has boarded. IS THIS TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR???

Putting private locks on public bikes. This one REALLY pisses me off but unfortunately it’s not uncommon. Around my work place, shared bikes are already scattered and scarce, so any available one is usually taken immediately. As I walk from the bus station to my work place (about a 15-minute walk), I regularly see two or three unused “shared” bikes and at first I was curious why no one took them. It wasn’t until I got closer and tried to use one that I saw that they were restricted by private locks while being blatantly parked on the sidewalk. OH SO THAT’S WHY no one could ride them. I believe they’re not abandoned because occasionally they disappear after work and reappear the next morning, so I think that the lock owners are indeed working around the same area. But really, how selfish can you get…-_- Ugh. I am not wishing for an altruistic society but this type of selfish behaviour is rage-inducing, to say the least. Sometimes I want to stay around and see who the culprits are and give them the evil eye. Worse yet, I wished I had a tool that would break the locks so that I could take the bike – fighting evil with evil, not exactly the best strategy but would at least release some of the spite.

A not-so-public public “shared” bike that has been so conveniently “claimed” by someone who feels that he/she is more entitled to use public property than everyone else…

Blocking the road with a public bike. One advantage of bike-sharing is that you could literally leave the bike anywhere you want but…could you at least park it in an area that DOES NOT BLOCK THE BIKE LANE OR CAUSE TROUBLE FOR OTHER PEOPLE. Ugh. Writing this post makes me so frustrated and I’m going to have a heart attack soon…

Internal organ damage. SPEAKING OF HEART ATTACKS, some bus drivers take aggressive driving to the next level. I applaud them for making a bus ride on a normal, flat road feel like a rollercoaster ride. Granted, the roads may not be in the best of conditions, but that still doesn’t explain how incredibly shaky and bumpy the ride gets sometimes. I wouldn’t be surprised if I get internal hemorrhage one of these days. Oh, and it seems like some drivers are always in a rush. Not only do they constantly sound the honk, but one tried to close the door BEFORE I even finish getting off the bus. There was one instance where my foot was still on the step and the door closed behind me and the bus started moving…eh?????

Honking for the sake of honking. On the subject of honking, I wrote previously that I appreciate gentle reminders in the form of a short honk, but some drivers find joy in infiltrating the city with noise pollution by honking every two seconds. Does it sound like music to your ears? Do you think that the person in front of you who is in the same traffic jam as you are, would be able to move one inch because you are abusing the honk? Maybe it is therapeutic, I don’t know. Do as you wish, I guess, but the amount of noise does make an already distracting environment much more dislikeable…

General disregard for safety: NOT UNDERSTANDING THE PURPOSE OF HAVING EYES. This one isn’t specifically related to public transit, per se. One would think that before a pedestrian crosses the street, he would look both ways to make sure that no vehicle is coming his way. WRONG. More than a dozen times my boyfriend and I, while riding the motor bike, have encountered people glued to their phones while walking OR WHILE RIDING A BIKE. I think you could imagine how frustrating it is when they suddenly appear in front of us with no warning, because their eyes weren’t on the road or they just assume that the busy road belongs entirely to them. And this is how people DIE on the road through no one’s fault but their own, yet they still find it more important to reply to a message or play a game. People. Make life easier for the rest of us (and potentially yourself) by putting away your phone for one damn second while you’re on the road, PLEASE.

Some other unpleasant behaviours that reflect general disregard for the comfort/convenience of fellow passengers on trains and buses include playing music/movies/games at max volume without headphones and blocking the bus or train aisle with bags that could be put on your lap. I realize that this is the way that things have been, are, and probably will be (for some more years to come) here in China (at least in Wuhan) and in no way am I saying that people should change to accommodate me. In fact, I being the one integrating into a new environment should be the one to adapt. However, I think I still have the right to express frustration, so don’t flame me for venting. At the end of the day, you still do what you gotta do and catch that early bus 913 to get to work. Run, bus, run…just don’t hit the motorbike that’s 1 cm away from you!!

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