<A> The magic of the Yangtse

Written by Jun 23, 2006 09:06
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Where History Stands Still

Ever since I was quite young, Wuhan was part of my vocabulary - even before I knew that it was at thre heart of China. You see, an ancestor of mine once worked there in the 1920s as a teacher. He died before I could meet him, but his story is handed down in family lore to this day.

Imagine my excitement then, when in May this year, I got a chance to visit Wuhan and see for the first time those places, buildings sights, which till now were only words and sounds to me. Strangely, my first view if Wuhan was somewhat tantalising. I was travelling from Guangzhou to Beijing and at precisely 2212 hours on 27th May 2006, our train chugged across the mighty Yangtse No 1 Bridge. Lights from the triple city twinkled and faded into darkness. I could not wait to be back.

My chance came some days later when I returned to spend some time in Wuhan. What impresses one most of course is the river, with its tributary Han slipping quietly into the mainstream from the north between Hanyang and Hankou.

Historically, these cities are of the greatest importance. Chairman Mao visited and made important political decisions. Warring faction from north and south met here and gave China the face she wears today. When my distant relative worked here, war clouds were already gathering. In fact, it was the impending trouble that drove him back to his native Ireland. He intended to return but never did. I fancied that I was to come in his stead.

Presiding over the passing centuries is the Yellow Crane Tower - a very beautiful structure on the right bank of the Yangtse. It is a lovely building, but something of a disappointment from inside. Formerly one could see the river from its upper storeys, but not any more.

To see the river properly one must stroll on its banks in one of the many lovely parks that have been built to delight the eye. Or one may cross the No 1 Bridge on foot and savour the mighty expanse of the water below. The more imaginative will close their eyes and picture the great river sliding silently on its way to Jiujiang and beyond to Shanhai and the sea. If only those waters could speak of ships they carried under foreign flags once upon a colonial time. Thankfully the ships that sail these waters now are proudly Chinese.

To my special delight, I found the building where my ancestor lived and worked, hidden away in a small street, opposite the Hospital for Chinese Medicine, in Wuchang. Memories of that moment will stay with me forever.

True, other tourists will come to Wuhan with other plans than tracing ancestors. But for al, there will be lots to see and do. Just let the river preside over you plans and dreams and you will be caught up in history. And when you awake from your reverie, you will cry out: 'It is good to be alive, and it is even better to be alive in such a place as this.'

 More Wuhan Travel Reviews
1. Wuhan at Last MISHEN from NZ Feb 26, 2006 09:02
2. The River - Part Four – Not Quite Wuhan MISHEN from NZ Feb 16, 2006 05:02
3. Teaching English at Wuhan University LADYMAGGIC from CN Nov 12, 2005 20:11
Comments (1)


Jun 24, 2006 22:37 Reply


China was never under colonial rule.
Yes, your travels are tainted with feelings and reflection of the past glories of the places u visited.

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