Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: lake

May 2021

May has been a time for me to rest and reflect as I transition between jobs. I quit my old job at the end of April and will officially start full-time in August as a biology teacher at an international school in Wuhan – bet not a lot of people saw that coming 😛 In May and June I am working part-time and am only obligated to be present at the school on Mondays and Tuesdays. However, I am still working to prepare for teaching on the other days, but my schedule is extremely flexible. That’s why I had been able to visit some restaurants and coffee shops that have long been on my to-go list, and even travel a bit outside of Wuhan. Days like this won’t last so I’m cherishing and enjoying them to the fullest before I return to full-time work. Here’s May!

I will always try to get a window seat on a plane or train ride and this is why – the views speak for themselves. The high-speed train from Guiyang (a post to come later) to Wuhan passes by countless mountains and villages, and this stretch of rice terrace had to be my favourite scene during the 4.5-hour trip.

Had to catch the end of spring in May anf take a few more leisurely strolls along the East Lake in Wuhan before it gets too hot in the summer…

…or cycle a couple dozen kilometers. The end of may already saw some 33-degree weather so this might be my last cycling trip for awhile, unless I’m crazy enough to brave the summer heat waves!

Donut art, random encounter during a supermarket visit. I don’t particularly like donuts as they’re too sweet, but here they look like they might as well be in a museum!

Lamb chop time! Jian and I had been intending to make lamb chops at home but it only stayed an intention until two weeks ago, when we finally made it happen. Well I did the cooking and Jian helped with devouring it, heh. The lamb chops were first pan-seared and then baked in the oven. Side dishes included q colorful salad and some garlic-sauteed potatoes. May I give myself a 12/10 for this, please! It looked fantastic, if I could say so myself, and tasted so delicious!

Animal friends at a cafe that I frequented during my free afternoons in May. Why cats in any form have gone viral is anyone’s guess…

I’ve seen a couple of these ducks lurking around the neighbourhood recently. The English says “I am very busy” but the Chinese tells you what he’s busy doing as it translates to “busy making money”. Well played, Mr. Duck, well played.

This photo was taken by Jian, presumably one day during lunch break, and I just had to steal it and post it. It was a simple snail but I love how the image was super clear and the details came out so sharply. I do have to admit that lately my husband’s photography skills have improved greatly and they indeed deserves applause.

Finally, a real animal friend, our beloved Shanshan. I suppose I answered my own question about cats going viral – how could they NOT??!!!

I’ve been loving my coffee shop afternoons and in fact I’m sitting in one as I write this. I guess coffee culture has become a fad in many parts of the world and though I know nothing about good coffee, I do find it delightfully pleasant to work or chill in a nice coffee shop (with a reasonable purchase, of course). And here comes June with the summer weather – I’m not ready for this yet!!!

March 2021

I’m sick again, ugh! Seems like this always happen during the season-changing periods every year, mostly during the transition from winter to summer and vice versa (spring and fall don’t really exist in Wuhan…) It had been raining non-stop for the past week or so and I’m hoping to get better from this cold in a few days. Meanwhile, a bit late but here’s a snapshot of March 2021 😉

Wuhan is known for its cherry blossoms in March but I prefer the humble plum blossoms that could also be found everywhere.

Here are some cherry blossoms but they were not from Wuhan…this photo was taken in Taiyuan in Shanxi province! ZJ had a weekend business trip and I thought I’d tag along for a few days because I hadn’t been to Taiyuan before…heh 😛

Jinyang Lake in Taiyuan, with the West Hills across from the lake. The lake was actually a lot bigger than I had expected, and I would have liked to stay for a bit longer but it was a rather chilly day and the winds were strong. I could imagine it being gorgeous during the summer in Taiyuan!

A lone bell hanging from a temple along the way during my visit to the giant stone Buddha at Meng Hill in Taiyuan.

Coffee for two in Taiyuan, after ZJ’s lunch with his colleagues and my visit to the stone Buddha at Meng Hill. If you see an owl at the bottom of the large pitcher, you’re not hallucinating – it was sitting on top of an owl coaster, ha!

Iced latte at a coffee shop overlooking the Yangtze River in Wuhan. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of free weekend afternoons exploring independent coffee shops around Wuhan, having a cup of latte and either writing or just chilling and daydreaming…

An unusually nice day in Wuhan, with temperatures in the 20s. The parks are filled with people out to enjoy the sun, including ZJ and me and this couple having a rest side by side.

These plush dolls were not in a shop and were in fact in an open area in a mall where anyone could go up and grab one. But the sign says “There are security camers above watching who is stealing the sheep”…so can I take one or not?!?!?!

Finally, a collage of our dear friend Shanshan who, as usual, likes to pose for the camera, whether she did it on purpose or not. I haven’t yet been scratched or injured by her so we’re still on friendly terms…heh.

East Lake, the gem of Wuhan

If there’s anything that makes living in Wuhan more desirable, it’s the East Lake. You may have heard of West Lake, which is a world-renowned tourist attraction in Hangzhou, China, but I’m sure not many people have heard of East Lake in Wuhan. I had mentioned East Lake several times in my previous posts, and I had intended to write a post dedicated to it, but it’s hard to describe and represent so much beauty in one post. But I’ll try.

Wuhan is known to some as “the city of a hundred lakes” because of the large number of lakes that can be found within the city limits. East Lake is the second largest city lake in China (the largest is Tangxun Lake, also in Wuhan) and a (mostly) admission-free category 5A scenic attraction. How big is East Lake? Well, huge! Don’t assume you can simply walk around it in one shot, as the shore length is supposedly >100 km. The vehicle of choice is definitely the bike, and this has been made easier by bike-sharing schemes in the city. In fact, public bikes usually are quite difficult to find near East Lake because of the high demand, so we often had to find them before we got to the lake area.

When cycling the East Lake, the outer shore is not the only route and is actually perhaps the road less taken. What’s great about East Lake is the system of interconnected paths constructed specifically for cyclists and pedestrians, known as the “East Lake Greenway”. These run through the entire lake region, connecting islands, parks, and different sub-areas, making it possible to explore something new with every trip. The map below shows the major paths of the different sections of the lake, but the smaller cycling/hiking paths within each region are not illustrated. Looking at the map, J and I have completed the orange, green, teal, blue, and the right half of the light purple segment by bike. I’ve walked the dark purple segment but have yet to cycle through it, and the red segment, which is the main one through the lake, remains untouched. Well I shall get to you…

Map of the interconnected routes in the East Lake Greenway system, from the official web site (in Chinese only, unfortunately).

I happen to live a stone’s throw away from East Lake and so it is one of the places that J and I frequent, especially on summer nights and weekends. During August last year, we went cycling three times within a two-week period, each time going a different route. Let’s just remind you that Wuhan is infamous for its scorching hot summers and is known as one of the “four big ovens” in China. So, going outdoor in AUGUST was unthinkable for me, but I got tempted and convinced. We did decide to go after 4 pm, when the heat has subsided a bit, so it wasn’t all THAT horrible – just had to bring lots of water. In fact, one thing I like about the greenway is that the roads are mostly flat, so there aren’t a lot of hills or rough paths and it’s a fun, leisurely ride most of the way. Along with the late afternoon wind, you almost don’t feel the heat that much and you can spend your time admiring the beautiful scenery offered by East Lake.

With COVID-19 ravaging the globe, we are still strongly encouraged to stay at home and therefore I haven’t made a visit to East Lake yet this year. But I will see you again soon, East Lake! Now you are wondering where the photos are – I am saving them for the end and here they are! Enjoy 😉

Light evening cycle in the Luoyan Scenic Area (blue segment on map, “luo yan” translates to “falling crane”). There was a tiny lone island not too far from the shore, occupied by nothing but trees. The skyline of Wuhan can be seen in the distance on the right.

Leisurely stroll in the Tingtao Scenic Area (dark purple segment on map, “ting tao” translates to “listening to waves”). A boardwalk stretches outward into the lake, leading to a small pavilion.

Another segment in the Luoyan Scenic Area, this time across from the “Wangguo Park” (“wanguo” translates to “ten thousand kingdoms”). It’s an abandoned theme park built years ago, with remains of Egyptian pyramids, medieval castles, and windmills.

Can’t remember where this photo was taken, but the greenness of it always refreshes my mood. It feels like this could be a fairyland unknown to us mere muggles…

I think this was still the Luoyan Scenic Area, but it’s clear that this was in the middle of summer as the lotus pads covered entire sections of the lake. And the remaining rays of sunlight are still trying to outshine the looming clouds that announce the arrival of night…good evening.

Nearing the northernmost tip of the light purple segment, Wuhan’s skyline is now clearly visible in front of us and feels easily within reach.

Almost arriving at the westernmost tip of the orange segment, the sun has decided to grace us with its last appearance of the day and give us a break from the heat, finally.

October 2019

The October 2019 post almost wasn’t going to exist. You see, I started this monthly summary thing last October (August and September both only had 6 photos and don’t count here), so September 2019 marked one whole year of doing it. I was going to stop at one year and perhaps continue onto something else, but I changed my mind. I realized that in the midst of a fast-paced lifestyle where one is so easily agitated, it is necessary to constantly remind myself to see, discover, and record those beautiful things in life – nature, people, events, etc. In doing so, I will then not forget to always express gratitude. So then, let the monthly summaries continue 😀

Tranquil afternoon in the Luoyan Scenic Area of East Lake, the last chance for me to see the rose garden before the winter set in. The rose garden (not real roses) wasn’t all that impressive (and that’s being euphemistic) but the Luoyan area was filled with some nice surprises…

…such as this boardwalk in a wooded area. The air was quiet, particularly because it was raining slightly that day and there weren’t that many visitors, which made it more enjoyable for me.

Sunset view from the balcony outside our office. My office faces the west so in the afternoon, we are often able to catch a perfect view of the sunset right as we get off work. This one in particular wasn’t all that spectacular compared to some of the other ones I’ve seen, but it gives an aura of tranquility and peace – and time to go home 😛

An assortment of flowers around the neighbourhood in October. The weather had been unusually warm this year up till mid-November, remaining at 20 degrees Celsius (or above) whereas last year, the temperature already dropped drastically by early November. I guess as a result of this, the flowers thought that spring came again…?!! According to some sources, the cherry blossoms at Wuhan University blossomed a bit in October…WHAT!! Foolish flowers being tricked by the weather – but hey I liked that I was able to enjoy their beauties again ^_^ Special attention goes to the sweet osmanthus (top right), whose fragance ubiquitously fills the atmosphere for about three weeks each autumn in Wuhan and has become one of my favourite things in this city!

This photo takes us back to France – the day after the wedding. As I mentioned in the previous post, our wedding venue had a fantastic pool that no one ventured to use as it was too cold – well, except for my brave newly wed husband. He had been going on and on about diving in for a swim and I even found swim trunks for him in Bordeaux for this sole purpose. I guess it wasn’t enough that he was thrown into the pool the previous night while he was in his suit, so he went for a proper swim early in the morning – even though he actually doesn’t know how to swim properly -_- That obviously didn’t stop him!

This was the goodbye photo at the Bordeaux train station. We didn’t want too many people to come and send us off, but three friends (one left early) did insist coming to bid us farewell. Please disregard the awkward and stretched shape of my face as I was the one taking the selfie and the angle was NOT advantageous for me. Otherwise I love this photo because everyone else looks so joyful and cute!

Mini team-building event with the company colleagues in my sub-department in Wuhan, at a popular bookstore called “Define Deer at Discovery” (don’t ask me about the translation…it makes no sense). The main destination was actually the sunflower field right outside the bookstore…

…tada! This was the day before the team-building event, where I brought my visiting friend Jade Blanche (emcee at the wedding). I thought that they weren’t planting the sunflowers this year because last year, they were in full bloom by the end of July, and the field was still empty in September this year. But then when Jian told me that the sunflowers were planted again, only later this year, I was beyond excited! Such lovely flowers full of energy and radiance!

Final photo obviously had to go to one of Jian and me in front of the sunflower fields, under the perfect lighting in perfect weather. The sunflowers have wilted by now so I guess I will see you again next year.

So as I mentioned at the beginning, the monthly posts will continue (if not, the blog will probably die because these are almost the only things I post nowadays). I am trying to regain some more time to blog but while it has been difficult, I will not let the blog die! We suddenly welcome winter this week as the temperature dropped sharply from the 20s to below 10 in a span of one day…my hands are freezing as I type this. Also big things are currently happening in life – no I am not pregnant (yet) – so stay tuned for updates in the next couple of months 😉

June 2019

We’re gonna start our monthly summary post with a brief but obligatory weather update: IT’S NOT SUPER HOT IN WUHAN THIS SUMMER. Last year it was 35+ every day by the end of June, and now it’s almost mid-July and the highest temperature we’ve seen was around 33. Perhaps my prayers of a bearable summer have been heard!!??? And 33 is still hot, especially when it’s humid and sticky and yucky, but it’s so far been so much better than what we had to deal with at this time last year. I do have a feeling, though, that the worst is yet to come, or the entire summer is being shifted back so it’ll still be ridiculously hot in October.

As a result of the not-so-horrendous weather, I went out more than anticipated in June. One Thursday, the Internet was down at our company, so we had a spontaneous day off (which was made up on the Saturday that week because there is NEVER a free day off in China). Anyway, on this unexpected day off, my colleague and I made a short trip to East Lake – I do that often enough already – and wandered around the Moshan scenic area. We stumbled upon a place where we could climb up to get a panoramic view of East Lake – and THIS! In the far distance is the skyline of the commercial district of Wuhan, and closer to us, at the center of the lake is an elevated greenway that traverses the lake from north to south. On a nice day, a lot of people like to take walks or cycle through the greenway and enjoy the beautiful scenery, but don’t underestimate the distance! This is definitely the highlight of East Lake and what makes it well known as one of the best places to relax, for both locals and tourists.

This photo was taken as the high-speed train I was on was pulling into Wuhan Railway Station, and the name of the station here is in mirror image. I’ve been to Wuhan Railway Station many times but have never taken a photos from this angle…or any angle, in fact.

A lot of young people nowadays like places that are quaint and artistic. There are often at least one of two of these streets or areas in a big city, lined with small shops selling hand-made art, trinkets, and random accessories. I used to like them too but they’ve become all the same and too commercialized, like anything in China that gains popularity. I’ve read about “Da Li Cun” (“Big Lee Village”), which was apparently not so far from my place, so one spontaneous day I went to look for it. There are supposed to be these cozy hostels and unique art shops and cafes but…the surrounding area was being dug up and reconstructed! I felt like I actually stepped into a worn down village and not an artistic world as advertised (though I knew better now than to trust embellished advertisements). The hostels and art shops were there, alright, but how should I put this…there was an indescribably eerie feeling in the air. Definitely not a place I recommend going to…at least not before the constructions are complete.

I think these are characters from Kung Fu Panda…well I only watched Kung Fu Panda 2 many years ago and remember the panda itself, so I don’t know who the other guys are.

For my wedding in October, I am giving out custom postcards as favours. They are all of photos that I personally took of Bordeaux, Wuhan, Canada, or other places to which I’ve travelled with the specific recipient. The company that I found that prints postcards does it quite well, and I’m satisfied with the quality, given the price. Here is a sneak peak of the ones that I got as samples to test the quality – not revealing the ones I’m actually giving out!

There is a place at the Optics Valley commercial area called “Fountain Square”, but I didn’t think there was a REAL fountain there. One night after dining with J, we were walking around and stumbled upon a musical fountain show at the Fountain Square! Pretty cool, especially because it wasn’t planned at all.

We saw a large “I ❤ HUST” sign at the grand entrance of HUST one day and I insisted taking a photo of J with it – because I know and he knows that he loves his university. In the background is a statue of Chairman Mao, which is the landmark of HUST. I would say I love HUST too, but I have to add…HUST’s food! I don’t work there so I don’t spend >50% of my life there, but I do eat at the canteens there at least four times a week so I’d day…yes to HUST food!

We found out later that the “I ❤ HUST" sign was only there temporarily for the graduation season so that people could take photos with it. At another building, there was a sign that says "Graduation time!" with a large banner in the back that says "Degree conferral ceremony of the graduating class of 2019 at the HUST". I of course was neither a student at the HUST nor was I graduating (my last graduation was more than five years ago…ha!) but I liked to pretend that I was still a youthful student with hopes and dreams. Just look at that big smile with aspirations for a bright future!

We end with the only group photos of this post, which is a family photo taken at the famous Yellow Crane Tower. A lot of people thought that the lady behind me is my mom, but it’s actually my aunt. She and my dad visited Wuhan at the beginning of the month and of course we had to take them to some tourist attractions, Yellow Crane Tower being one of them. My dad still has that typical “what, a photo is being taken now?” look on his face which I find funny and adorable at the same time 😛

As opposed to most previous posts where I complain about life in Wuhan, I will actually say that life has been rather fine lately mostly because of the delayed onset of bad summer heat. I will take a cool rainy day over a 33+ degree day any time, thank you very much, though I KNOW that the heat is still yet to come. Wedding planning is also stressful, especially because everything is done over long distance, but it is more enjoyable than stressful. Less than three months to go…

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