Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Category Archives: Non-European

October 2020

Here we go, year 3 of the monthly summary posts. These started on my WeChat as a reminder for me to observe the details and notice the small delights of everyday life, which are often overlooked especially during hard times. Then I began to realize that I do a lot of these things – write, photograph, share – because it gives me joy to just record even the most random things. And it is important, for far too often we entangle ourselves in the battle against the reality that tries to devour us and forget to live. So it continues – maybe I will stop at the end of three years, as I did for several of my previous projects. We’ll see in a year…

At my workplace, the yueji flowers (Chinese roses) growing next to the entrance to the building across from us blooms each year in around April and November, from what I’ve observed. The bright colours always bring an air of delight to a depressing work campus.

A lone flower encountered during a lunch walk around the work campus. I don’t know what type of flower it is, and a plant recognition identified it as begonia, but I’m still unsure…hmm.

Roots of a huge tree wrapped around the corner of what seemed to be a mock city wall in Yuexiu Park, Guangzhou. I wasn’t sure if the tree was real or artificial but…it looked real enough to me. I had visited Yuexiu Park many times but only noticed this during my recent visit. Looks fascinating when lit up during the night!

Another small discovery during the lunch walks (still doing them while the autumn weather is nice enough to neither sweat nor freeze). Mr. Cool-Propeller-Duck – yes the propeller spins – looks swaggy with his retro sunglasses and gold chain – dang!

Photos of spectacular cloud formations often appear in my monthly summaries because they are always a product of serendipity. The dome at the subway station seems to be a common place where they appear, probably because I usually exit in the morning at the right time to catch the post-sunset show put on by Mother Nature 😛

Chilling with long-lost friends from Glasgow! Well, only about three years, not so long relatively. These two Wuhan natives came home for the Golden Week holidays and J and I were able to meet up with them.

Mr. J imitating this sculpture of a baby/toddler with a huge head in Yuexiu Park. Keep your balance and don’t topple over!

Another photo featuring Mr. J…or is that him at all?! Our feline friend here has taken a liking to Mr. J but didn’t seem to be impressed that the camer was pointed toward her. Classic feline what-are-you-looking-at expression >o:(

And this…was the most random photo ever. It seemed like Mr. J was tired or maybe he was pretending to be sleepy so that he could avoid having to deal with whatever shenanigans I was up to…O_o

Just a side note: US election is the most exciting and worrisome event to happen in a while. I’ve never been into US politics and I’m not even a US citizen, but this seems like the biggest show on Earth of 2020 and I’m eager to see how it turns out. I still remember waking up in Glasgow four years ago to find shockingly that the UK voted yes to Brexit, but this time, because of the time difference in China, I might be able to follow up-to-the-minute reports on the US election…not sure if I want to. All will be revealed tomorrow…

September 2020

September has historically been my favourite month of the year as it marks the beginning of autumn as well as my birthday 😛 This year, September was extra-anticipated because I took my five-day annual leave at the end of the month, giving me two weeks off work when combined with the eight-day National Week holiday at the beginning of October. Still, let’s see what Annie had been up to this past month.

I’m constantly discovering new places in Wuhan and this time it was a walking path near the Huanglongshan (literally “Yellow Dragon Hill”) area. Who would have thought that there’d be this “I ❤ U" sign in the middle of nowhere! So Jian and I had some fun with it, heh 😛

And at the same time, there is a “I LOVE HUST” sign in front of the HUST (Jian’s university) library. Can’t say I myself love HUST that much but J is a loyal faculty member indeed 😀

Weekly fellowship combined with a birthday party this time, at my place.

Birthday girl making a wish upon a star…or upon a cake?!

Sleep vs. grumpy cat, with that “what are YOU lookin’ at O_O” look. It’s OK, I still like you.

Cat #2 here, looking photogenic as passersby stop to admire the gorgeous beauty.

Dramatic sky one afternoon, with the clouds trying to mask the radiating sun. But Mr. Sun’s like, “Nah bro you ain’t taking the highlight away from me” as it attempts to burst out of the sombre clouds…

The baking experiments continue, this time with…classic banana bread! First bite was like OMG this is delicious but it ended up being too sweet…AGAIN, even with reduced sugar content. I guess I didn’t take into account how sweet ripe banana themselves already are…need to work on my sugar control!!!

Tidbits of street food in Chaozhou in Guangdong province, a small trip taken at the end of September before going to my hometown Guangzhou. Top left: beef and tripe soup noodles; top right: glutinous rice stuffed in pig intestines; bottom left: a variety of street snacks in Chaozhou; bottom right: matcha shaved ice milk. Food heaven! ❤

There are two and a half months left in the peculiar year of 2020 but we’ll see if it could get any more bizarre…see you in November with the next monthly update!

August 2020

The coming of September means that there are only four months left in 2020 – what! Heck, what a year 2020 has been not only for me but for everyone in this pandemic-stricken world. Hopefully we are still keeping a positive outlook as we step into the final trimester of the year. August was also REALLY hot and I’m glad I survived another Wuhan summer…!

Leisurely cycling after dinner one evening after a short period of rain, a rainbow appeared above us. Nearly everyone stopped to take a photo and so did we – I think it was my first encounter with a rainbow after moving back to China!

We continued cycling and when we reached Yujia Lake, we saw fiery clouds in the distance that illuminated the dusk over the horizon, like an oil painting coming to life. Nature is too beautiful!

Photo taken at the exact same spot as the last photo, with the golden globe getting ready to sink into the horizon beyond Yujia Lake. Yep, we are frequent visitors to Yujia Lake, alright.

View from the bus from Hankou station as we crossed a bridge over the Han River (not the more well-known Yangtze, which also traverses Wuhan) on our way home.

Amazing cloud patterns seen outside my workplace as I was getting ready to go home.

Group photo after weekly gathering at my place – it’s great to finally be able to see friends face-to-face again!

Fooooooooooooood! Summertime (plus COVID) means that J gets a break from teaching and so we cooked a lot more at home in August than we’re used to. Apparently taking a photo of every home-cooked meal has become a habit and a ritual. I’m so thankful to have such an excellent cook as my husband! ❤

Despite cooking more, we still ate out from time to time, especially during our weekly date on Friday nights. Top left: pizza and curry chicken rice with friends; top right: sizzling-grilled steak with pasta and egg; bottom left: best beef noodles ever in Xiangyang; bottom right: Thai sticky rice with mango and coconut milk. Yum yum!

I usually end these monthly posts with a selfie of Mr. J and me and here we are – my husband is really the most adorable human being ever ❤ ❤ ❤

Other than my job (which I hate and can’t quit yet for not-so-obvious reasons), I dare say that I’m enjoying my currently lifestyle more and more – beautiful sceneries, amazing books (only thing not mentioned in this post), delicious food, and the best companion in life. Two milestones – ten-year anniversary of this blog and one-year wedding anniversary – are coming up and I plan to write corresponding posts reflecting upon these in the upcoming month – if I don’t become lazy or distracted!

July 2020

Well there goes July. This month, Wuhan experienced an excessive amount of rainfall and as a result, the hot temperatures were slightly delayed and we got flooding in return, blah. In other news, J and I just came back from a short getaway to Guilin, a popular tourist destination in the province of Guangxi in southwestern China. It was good to finally be able to get out of the familiar for a bit – definitely a much-needed break.

Impressive cloud formations outside Guanggu 7th Road subway station in Wuhan, early in the morning.

View of villages and surrounding mountainous areas in Yangshuo, Guilin, during a motorcycle ride. Guilin is known for its beautiful karst hills and landscape that look like oil paintings.

More karst hills near Yangshuo, this time as seen with the setting sun from the Gongnong Bridge over the Yulong (meaning “meeting dragon”) River, a tributary of the famous Li River in Guilin.

View from my perspective as I was laying down to rest in a pavilion during a long(ish) hike in 36-degrees-Celsius weather…lots of stops and sweat required.

Evening falls in Yangshuo, which is relatively quiet because of COVID-19. Normally this town would be full of tourists, especially foreigners, but the tourism industry has really taken a heavy hit this year all over the world.

Lights hanging from the ceiling at the guesthouse that accommodated us during our stay in Guilin.

Brief pottery experience in Yangshuo! In about an hour I only got the hang of moulding the clay into a simple circular bowl/dish – fun but not easy!

Check-in at my workplace – that’s my expression of “it’s too early and I’m not ready for work”. Yep, not embarrassed at all posting this selfie – sometime I like it in its most natural, rawest form, heh.

Selfie time with Mr. J <3, at a Japanese restaurant that was decorated with abacuses on the wall.

In summary, Guilin was great aside from the fact that we went in scorching heat. August will (should) be an entire month of monstrous heat in Wuhan – bring it on, summer!!

Honeymoon in Japan – BONUS POST!

Of course seven posts weren’t even enough to fully document the amazing honeymoon trip to Japan, so I decided to write a final bonus post. Whereas the other posts in the series were location- or theme-based, for this post, I went through all of my photos again and picked out some unposted ones that I particularly liked, in no specific order. Hope you enjoy them too!

The sun was preparing to set moments before landing in Seoul Incheon Airport in South Korea, where we were scheduled for a connecting flight to Tokyo Narita. With the help of Google Maps, I have identified the horizontal island in the middle as Seonjae-ri and the large one on the right as Yeongheungdo by their shapes and location 😉

Lake Ashi in Hakone was one of the highlights of our trip and we especially enjoyed exploring the surrounding areas on foot. After we descended to Lake Ashi from Owakudani by ropeway and before we walked the Ancient Cedar Avenue, we made a detour to Onshi-Hakone Park (“onshi” means heavenly/divine gift), which offered a great panoramic view of Lake Ashi. There was also a beautiful path in the park that was lined on both sides with old trees that I don’t know the names of, making it almost a tunnel. We spent quite a lot of time there even though it was an unexpected find along the route.

Before the boat tour on Lake Ashi, we stopped for lunch at Togendai Lakeview restaurant, where we got a curry omurice and an order of sausages with rice. Even though it was a tourist area, the food was surprisingly not ridiculously expensive and the quality was still up there!

An experience that I wrote about in the Hakone post was eating Wagyu beef at Itoh Dining by NOBU. This was my second wagyu beef experience (Kobe beef the first time in 2018) but the first for my husband J, so we made reservations to sit right by the counter so we could see the chef’s every move. The anticipation was building long before the raw ingredients even appeared on the grill…

…and there he was, preparing the wagyu beef like a piece of art. I definitely wouldn’t mind another serving…heh. For the full description of how the food tasted, please read the Hakone post.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that this trip became much more interesting with a selfie stick, which I was using for the first time – I know I’m behind the times. I never liked selfies but having someone to share precious moments with changed that. (1) J and Annie at the Ancient Cedar Avenue near Lake Ashi; (2) J and Annie at Odawara station before taking the slow train to Tokyo; (3) J and Annie at the entrance of Waraku in Otaru, where we had conveyor belt sushi for lunch; (4) J and Annie at Otaru station before heading to Sapporo.

We really had a nice surprise with the snow on our last day in Hakone – look how pretty the snow made everything!

Pre-flight meal at Narita Airport terminal 3, while waiting for our flight from Tokyo to Hokkaido. The terminal itself was designated for low-cost carriers but there were still a variety of food options – another plus for Japan. J and I ordered different types of noodles but we both got gyoza as a side. I love gyoza but they’re essentially dumplings and I feel like I can get them all the time in my daily life, so I don’t go out of the way to get the Japanese type very often. But they are so delicious that I can’t resist sometimes!

Little figurines sitting on a bench in Hakone-Yumoto, near Tenseien, a hot spring resort. They were connected to a wire so I assumed that they’d light up during the evening. It was too bad that we didn’t stay in that area after sunset – the light displays would have been quite lovely, I bet.

While window-shopping on Sakaimachi Street in Otaru we came across more “figurines” – sake in bottles in the shape of little snowmen?

Here’s a more humble landmark of Otaru aside from the canal or Sakaimachi Street – a statue of Bunko the firefighting dog. When Bunko was a puppy, he was rescued by firefighters during a fire and ever since then, grew up with the firefighters. During his 24 years on Earth, he would participate in firefighting missions as part of the heroic team that guarded the city. This statue commemorates the story of Bunko and look – someone put a sweater and hat on Bunko to keep him warm! J seemed to like him a lot too 😛

Final photo to wrap up this bonus Japan post – sunset in the distance as I was waiting for the flight from New-Chitose (Hokkaido) to Dalian (where I’d end up stranded for two months because of COVID-19). Starting the post with a sunrise and ending it with a sunset would have made it a perfect circle but alas, both were sunsets, which were lovely just the same.

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