April 23, 2013. Wuhan, China
At breakfast this morning I try a pretty ugly dish. I think it may be marinated egg made into a pancake and wrapped up. I do not really know why I selected it. I was waiting for a scrambled egg and it seemed so forlorn sitting there on a plate. John tells me it is yuba skin and it is delicious! It tastes exactly like moo shu. While I am standing there I also take a scoop of a wood ear and celery dish which is also very tasty.
Around 8:30 AM we board the bus for a trip to the airport. It’s a gray, drizzly day so there is not much to see out the windows. Jimmy teaches us some Chinese and tells us about the optional excursions from the boat. We figure we might as well do everything since we will probably not be back in China. Once at the airport there is quite a bit of hurrying up and waiting. Then our flight is delayed due to the bad weather but ultimately we take off only about one half hour late.
The flight is fine although we are squeezed in like sardines. Landing in Wuhan, we are amazed to realize that we have never heard of this city of 9 million people. It is bigger than New York or Los Angeles! We drive past giant people warehouses. There are skyscrapers of tiny apartments with tiny balconies. Jimmy has told us that the apartments are of a regulation size of about 600 sq. ft. containing two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a living room and a balcony so people can get some light and air in their dwelling. Rosalind, our local guide, tells us that in Wuhan there are no elevators unless the building is taller than 8 floors. There is also no heat. Only apartments north of the Yangtze have heat even though it gets below freezing in the winter. Weird central planning!
We ride on the bus for about an hour and reach the Hubei Provincial Museum where we visit the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng. The tomb was discovered in 1978 fully intact. There are four chambers. One is for the Marquis and his concubines. Another is for 14 sacrificed girls age 14 to 26. The third is for armaments. And the last contains an amazing set of bells.
We are treated to a concert on a replica of the bell set. Each bell can play two different tones. It takes several people to play the bells. The players also include two zithers, a sort of mouth organ and a flute. They play traditional music and also the Ode to Joy.
Finally we get to the boat. Our room is fine but not nearly as luxurious as the Regent staterooms. We take a trip down to the bar and meet up with some fellow Californians. We decide to get the drinks package. We make good use of it. We have dinner with our new friends, Brad and Kathy, as well as two interesting British couples. It is all very convivial. Oddly there are no Asian entrees at dinner but our fish is quite tasty. We finish up in the lounge with Irish coffees and a little dancing. It has been a very enjoyable evening.