Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday afternoon

So after checking in to our beautiful room, we went out for a tour of a local grocery and department store. The grocery was as well-stocked, shiny, and mercenary as any in the West, albeit with a slightly better variety of dried mushrooms and types of cooked sparrow. The department store was like any department store anywhere: overly air conditioned, too bright, overpriced, and so relentlessly happy that it makes me want to go home and listen to Kindertotenlieder in the dark until I can get my grump back on. It also resembles any department store in that it makes we want to leave immediately, through a reasonably low window if possible, but Katrina wants to wander around. We got out with minimal damage.

After a rest, we joined another couple for dinner at a local place that had been recommended. It had Western (sort of) food as well as Chinese. As per usual, the Chinese menu had all sorts of things mysteriously absent from the English menu, as if pizza were some Eastern secret that could not be revealed to the barbarians. I had a club sandwich, which despite the somewhat non-traditional fried egg in the middle was quite tasty. After dinner we had a concoction of ice cream, Oreo cookies, corn flakes, and whipped cream. It's better than it sounds.

The highlight of the day was the walk back to the hotel. There's a wide plaza along the artificial lake behind the hotel. It's all quite new -- our guide said that this part of Wuhan, now lined with tall buildings, was a village just 12 years ago. The plaza is a gathering place for the locals in the evening to dance and play. There were at least three different dancing groups near sets of loudspeakers -- line dancers, a group of little girls, and an older group. Rollerskaters whirled in a wide circle, grandparents looking on from the sidelines. Children laughed and screamed as they rode recklessly about in big-wheel type contraptions, including one large flying-saucer thing that played music and shot out bubbles. You had to watch your step; I saw one little shaved-head kid in a minaturized dune buggy take out the Achilles tendon of a grandma. She shouted something after the kid. Probably not "bless you."

People talked, and wandered, and ate, and played. It was like a street fair, except it happens every night. Even now, as I type this, the music drifts up to our floor, and the lights flicker off the tinted windows.

1 comment:

Christine and Tom said...

Ken, you HAVE to try the cooked sparrow and let me know if it's better than the cooked sparrow you've had here! You really aren't letting on whether you are enjoying the more interesting dishes. Keep the photos coming; I really would have liked to see the photo of the guy pulling the cart with you two in it through all the alley ways. Be safe.