Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: night

May 2019

Here goes May, the month where Wuhan tried to initiate summer but sort of failed, thankfully. (I feel like I can’t start a Wuhan-related post nowadays without talking about the weather – go figure.) The temperature hovered between 25 to 28 degrees Celsius during the final week of May, which was PERFECT, and as much I know it’s wishful thinking, I seriously hoped that it’d be like this all summer. Mid-May also marked the one-year anniversary of my official arrival in Wuhan so at least I could say that I reached a milestone. Good to be still hanging in there 😉

One of the things I do to keep myself sane on a daily basis is to take photos of beautiful things that I see, one of which is cloud patterns. I often see the stunning artworks of God in the form of clouds and they are enough to make my day. This photo was taken at the Guanggu 7th Road subway station in the late afternoon, and it almost seemed as if the smoke was emerging from the sky lit by the setting sun.

Another photo near Guanggu 7th Road station, this time taking in the early morning, from the other direction.

Third and final photo of beautiful clouds in this mini-collection, taken near dusk in Yancheng, Jiangsu province. J and I attended my cousin’s wedding in Yancheng and was heading to Nanjing for the evening, and saw this while waiting for the train. The sun and clouds fascinatingly accentuated the silhouette of the city, sending us a perfect goodbye gift.

A change of scenery here – a view of “Fairy Island Lake” from the highest point of the scenic area. This was taken during a company spring outing and though I honestly did not enjoy 90% of the trip, I give credit to the 2.5 hours of free time that we had in the end. It was raining pretty horrendously when this photo was taken (rain only during the free time, great) but I somewhat managed to capture the surroundings successfully. Perhaps the rain made it more…”fairy-like”??

Not going in chronological order, this is the Pagoda/Temple of Gratitude in Nanjing during the evening. It is named so because it was commissioned to be built by a king in the Ming dynasty as an expression of gratitute to his mother. I think the original has been destroyed and this is a replica, but it looked magnificent at night. The pavilion is lit up in alternating colours but there is a 20-second window every 5 minutes where it is lit up in multi-colours. Very beautiful!

Still in Nanjing, this is a serendipitous photo of a little girl staning in front of the lyrics of the Chinese national anthem carved into a wall, with the score. I was wondering why there was no English version, but I think the four languages at the bottom might all be ones spoken by minority ethnic groups in China. I’m going to venture a guess from left to right…Mongol, Sanskrit, Arabic, and transliteration of Korean. Can someone confirm??

Probably the most random photo of this post is of this small cocktail that J ordered as part of a meal deal. The deal doesn’t exist anymore so unfortunately I can’t find its name, but it certainly was an aesthetically pleasing little addition to an otherwise great (and very large-portioned) meal ^_^

This set of pig figurines (and the large piggy bank) that was displayed at the front desk of the Nanjing public library made my day and I wish I could have gotten the entire set! So adorable!!! The last one on the right must be doing some sort of yoga post, heh, I love it ❤

Obligatory (almost) monthly photo of me and J, taken in Yancheng. J looks so sleepy and clueless in this photo but actually it was just him being his usual dorky self 😛

Overall May 2019 has been a pleasant month, and I think I’m finally realizing this: I can constantly complain about various aspects of Wuhan, but at the end of the day, I have to accept the fact that I’m living here and learn to embrace its imperfections. I will probably still complain just as a way to vent (and it is necessary), but again, keeping a record of beautiful encounters will be my way of maintaining sanity and reminding myself of the good things in life. Yes, even in Wuhan.

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April 2019

It’s almost the end of May and I am only getting to the April 2019 post…very late, I know. During the past weeks I’ve been contemplating ending the blog for a variety of reasons, but perhaps not just yet. I might write a post about it – I say that about a lot of topics and never got to them, which is one of the reasons why I want to stop blogging altogether – but before that, let’s recap the month of April, the final reasonably comfortable month in Wuhan in terms of weather…

During the Qingming holiday (early April), J and I went back to his hometown in the countryside and enjoyed breathing fresh air away from the big city. We encountered a cat who seemed to be contemplating its own existence and pondering the meaning of life at a neighbour’s house…or maybe it was just in a daze and waiting for food.

One of the items on my bucket list was to fly a kite and it was achieved during this trip! Well, I’ve flown a kite before this, but not successfully. I was really young and only remember that the kite somehow didn’t work properly – in hindsight we probably just didn’t know how to handle it. This time, I was super ready! J and I reached an open area and the early April weather was just perfect, breezy but not cold! See that kite fly! Higher up, up, and up!

It’s nice to get away from the city once in a while, especially one with so much distraction like Wuhan. Going back to the countryside allowed us to spend some peaceful time where the only thing we heard was the wind in the air and carefree birds chirping.

But of course we had to come back to the city. April was getting warm but not so hot that it was unbearable to go for a walk outside after lunch. The area around my workplace offered some beautiful nature, though the types of flowers weren’t as diverse as those that I saw in March.

Oh hey, almost didn’t see you there, little thing.

This was taken near the station where I usually take the subway to go home after work, capturing the final moments of daylight emitting from the golden globe.

During a random walk on the HUST campus, J and I encountered an event held by a department celebrating their 20th (I think) year of establishment. Naval engineering, I think? There were performances and a small party in the pavilion in the middle of the small lake. I remember very clearly that I got angry at J that evening, though I can’t for the life of me remember why O_O

On the last day of April, I arrived in Nanjing before the entire nation went traveling for the Labour Day mini-holiday. It was definitely a good call because most people didn’t begin their travels until May 1, and so the crowds in the tourist areas of Nanjing were quite bearable. I especially enjoyed hanging around the Qinhuai River, which has quite a lovely atmosphere when it wasn’t smothered by people!

And in Nanjing, of course I didn’t hesitate going to the Fuzi Temple tourist area for the famous street food! Wow there were so many goodies that I couldn’t resist even though I was suffering from a bad cold. I realize that a lot of these typically tourist areas were remodeled to resemble an old town and are heavily commercialized, but even knowing that, I rather enjoyed Nanjing. Then again, that might be because I would rather be anywhere else than Wuhan…

It seems like I can’t write a post without dissing Wuhan or expressing my strong dislike for it, and I don’t think my feelings toward this city will change any time soon. May is also the month that marks the one-year anniversary of my arrival in Wuhan so hey, at least it hasn’t defeated me yet – or has it already defeated me by changing me into someone that even I dislike?

Boston in three photos

The first stop of my three-part trip in November 2017 was Boston. Here is Boston in three photos.

The glistening skyline of downtown Boston by night, as seen from Cambridge, on the north side of the Charles River.

At the Park Street T (subway) station in downtown Boston, a man was making friends with (i.e. feeding) the pigeon.

Not too late to catch a final glimpse of fall colours at Boston Common.

26 days in China, part 4 – Huzhou

Huzhou is one of those places that is as of now mostly untainted by tourism, and the only reason I visited it (and found out about it) in the first place was to see my long-lost friend, YH, whom I met in Bordeaux and hadn’t seen for four years! Huzhou is her hometown and where she currently works, so a north-to-south China trip wouldn’t be complete without stopping by, especially since it’s only 2.5 hours away from Shanghai by high-speed train (and my mom’s first time on China’s high-speed train). In fact, I would say that Huzhou was the most anticipated stop on the itinerary!

Compared with nearby tourist hubs like Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and many other cities in the Jiangsu/Zhejiang provinces, Huzhou is quaint and quiet but certainly did not lack characteristic. In fact, because it wasn’t super crowded, Huzhou exhibited an accentuated sense of elegance that so well defines the Jiangnan region (or my impression of the region). Again, these are settings that only ever appeared in the quintessential historical Chinese movies and drama series, but beautiful places like these do exist in real life! Here is an alley on Yishang Street (“yishang” means “clothing”), which is one of the oldest and historically significant streets in Huzhou.

One (very well) hidden gem in Huzhou and my favourite place was the Lotus Garden, Huzhou’s response to the many famous gardens of Suzhou, except without the crowds and admission fees. Near the entrance there was a path lined with bamboos on both sides, and I felt like the only thing that was missing to make this a perfect TV scene was the sound of a bamboo flute and a handsome guy with a sword. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, anyone?

At the Lotus Garden, people liked to sit in pavilions to have tea and chat, or sing in groups in a courtyard, the way one leads a leisurely life. Now, that’s a lifestyle that I wouldn’t mind adopting after retirement.

Going away from the city centre, we arrived at a prominent landmark of Huzhou: the “Moon Hotel” by Tai Lake, which is really just a Sheraton Hot Spring Resort. It was rather a pity that we were not there during the evening, when the exterior of the entire crescent-shaped hotel is lit up and transforms the surrounding atmosphere. I would actually like to experience a stay at the hotel, at the very top of the crescent…one day, when I’m super rich!

And at Tai Lake, I met none other than my childhood hero, Doraemon! Well, a life-sized or more like a blown-up version of him, as I don’t think Doraemon is really THAT tall and huge. Can’t resist taking a photo of my all-time favourite fictional (is he fictional?) character, a close tie with the Little Prince whom I already met years ago in Hong Kong. Now if only Nobita and Shizuka and the rest of the gang are present, that would have been perfect!

By Tai Lake, a fisherman was drying and selling his catch of the day. It was extremely windy and cold that day, especially around the Tai Lake area. As I walked by, I was hoping that this man had enough clothes to keep him warm, because who knows how much longer he had to stay outdoor! Take care!

In the evening, YH and I went back to Yishang Street, where we were earlier, and I was surprised to see such spectacular night scene by the river that ran through Huzhou. This just goes to show that a city doesn’t have to have glittering skyscrapers to be charming. Even when most of the city seemed to have fallen asleep, Huzhou shone secretly and quietly only for those who were determined to seek her beauty.

During the preparation of my stay in Huzhou, YH originally intended to arrange for me and my mom to stay in one of the chic, Chinese-style boutique inns along the river but because I am a “foreigner” (not a Chinese citizen), I wasn’t allowed to book there… 😦 I don’t really know why that is the case, but even though China is an amazing place full of things to be discovered, being a foreigner in this land (even though it was MY native homeland) has its disadvantages. Oh well.

As for food, I was fed so well that if I lost any weight within the past month of going to the gym, I gained it all back in Huzhou. YH certainly knew how to be a great host! Let’s see what we have here. Top left: steamed fish from Tai Lake, one of the “three treasures of Tai Lake”. Bottom left: fish cooked with suancai (Chinese sauerkraut). Top right: cow (or pig?) stomach cooked with suancai. Middle right: home-styled tofu, excellent with the sauce and a bowl of rice! Bottom right: marinated beef wraps, kind of like the beef version of the Peking duck. It is almost dinnertime as I write this and looking at the photos of this food makes me sooooo hungry…

The one thing that I did regret was forgetting to take a photo with my friend YH this entire time (except the group photo at West Lake in Hangzhou, from the previous post) as we were having way too much fun reminiscing and exploring. One of the most frequent phrases that I heard during my entire China trip was this: “Your stay is too short!” Of course I heard this in Huzhou as well, but albeit it was a short stay, being able to experience this authentic city with a born-and-raised-here local was truly the greatest blessing. Huzhou and YH, you are greatly missed!

Next stop: another city in Zhejiang province – Wenzhou!

26 days in China, part 2 – Shanghai

Shanghai was the only city that I visited without a local friend to act as a guide, but the up side was that I was meeting my mom in Shanghai and we would be travel companions from here on! Yep, my mom arrived from Toronto just in time to meet me in Shanghai so that we would continue our trip together, all the way to the south.

In Shanghai, my mom and I met with a close cousin of mine whom I last saw 6 years ago. He’s worked in Shanghai for a while, but in my mind he is still not a true local, ha! Most of our time in the largest city in China was spent wandering on our own, but as I had been to Shanghai briefly in 2010, I had a slight idea of the most interesting places to go for a first-time visitor to Shanghai. So in a sense…I acted as my mom’s “guide”, though barely qualifying as one. No matter, we were off to have fun!

We start with the dazzling skyline of Shanghai at night, as seen from the Bund. If I were to be completely honest, as a typical large city, perhaps the only thing REALLY worth seeing in Shanghai was this, its impressive skyline by night. I had said in 2010, when I saw this skyline for the first time, that it was my favourite out of the skylines I’ve seen. It’s a tough choice between Shanghai and Hong Kong, but though shorter than that of Hong Kong, Shanghai’s skyline exhibits an extra sense of dimension and beauty, mainly with the presence of the Oriental Pearl Tower. In the centre slightly to the right, you see the Shanghai World Financial Center – AKA the world’s largest beer bottle opener 😛

Upon seeing the Bund, my mom said that she felt that all of the images of Shanghai that she’s seen on TV jumped out at her, as she never thought that the night scene would be THAT impressive in reality. It was my mom’s first time in Shanghai and we were the most stereotypical tourists that we could be. Obviously one does not go to the Bund without taking a selfie with it so…let’s rejoice at our reunion and just say cheese!

Even though I had been a city girl all my life, stepping into Shanghai (and Beijing too) made me feel like a country girl seeing the “outside world” for the first time. If you compare Shanghai to Glasgow, the contrast is clear – the third largest city in the UK, Glasgow, is almost like a small village! While wandering in the Lujiazui financial district, where all the tallest skyscrapers dwelt, we saw the full moon perched above the man-made structures and outshining all of the artificial lights so effortlessly, making me think once again of some Chinese lyrics that I loved: “The moon illuminates the dreams in the city.” Perhaps Shanghai, such a world-class, international metropolis, is a place that hides the dreams of many…

Aside from meeting my mom in Shanghai, I met briefly with one of the GU girls, RX, who now works in Shanghai. We chatted over coffee and a portion of stinky tofu (which became way too spicy because I underestimated the chili sauce…) and caught up on our lives and careers. We only had two hours to spend with each other but the brevity was treasured. Until next time, my dear friend!

I did mention my close cousin Tony earlier and after seeing RX, my mom and I went for dinner with Tony and his family, including my aunt and uncle and Tony’s wife Mindy (my cousin-in-law?) whom I was meeting for the first time. Tony and I were inseparable when we were children, but we grew quite distant ever since I moved to Canada. Still it was good to reconnect over some excellent food and some chat time. Obligatory group photo before we said goodbye!

The next day was spent exploring the Chenghuangmiao (City God Temple) area of Shanghai, which is really just a super commercialized area that caters to the interest of tourists. Still, we enjoyed just wandering around the streets and looking at all the interesting shops that lined them.

Local preparing food at their little shop, showing what everyday life is like for the people of this city. One part of travelling that I still enjoy very much is people-watching. Away from all the sightseeing and the hustle and bustle, ordinary life is happening without too much glamour and excitement.

McDonald’s was offering Super Mario figurines as toys for the Happy Meal and…I couldn’t resist. The first one I got was Toad (I got Boo and Yoshi after…) and he happily reminded me again how lovely Shanghai is at night.

As the final photo I present to you…food in Shanghai! On the left we have a Shanghainese specialty, glutinous rice balls cooked in sweet rice wine. The rice balls were so soft, and I loved the smell and taste of the rice wine – perfect combination! On the top right, we have “Grandma’s Beef Slices” from a chain called “Grandma’s House”, specializing in the cuisine of Shanghai and surrounding areas. This went so well with a bowl of rice – I couldn’t get enough of it! Finally on the bottom right we’ve got the stinky tofu that I had with RX, as I mentioned earlier. This was sold at a food cart outside my hotel, and I added loads of garlic, sweet sauce, and chili sauce…way too much chilli sauce that even my mom, who usually handles spicy food really well, thought it was overkill. Psh, piece of cake. The aroma of the tofu oozed out of its crispy exterior, and the taste and texture complemented each other so well. I love street food!

This concludes the Shanghai portion of the trip, although my mom and I did go on a day trip to Suzhou from Shanghai, which I will write about in a future post. For now, let’s anticipate the next stop: Huzhou in Zhejiang province 😀

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