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WUHAN AND THE YANGTZE RIVER

HUBEI PROVINCE

Wuhan is one of the major cities of China and its industrial capital. It is usually only visited by commercial tours as a brief stopover between more tourist-friendly attractions of the 'quaint old China' variety. Perhaps because of this lack of antique atmosphere, Wuhan comes across as a vibrant modern city with its own culture.

In the 1980s, the provincial Chinese very rarely saw foreigners. Tourists were whisked through by coach, from railway station to hotel, from hotel to tourist attraction, from attraction to Friendship Store, from Store to hotel, from hotel to railway station or airport, and then on to the next city on the list. This is Thursday? Must be the Ming Tombs...

In this regard there was a big difference between provincial Xian and more sophisticated Wuhan. In Xian the sight of a foreigner would immediately attract a crowd. People would just stand and stare. No hostility in their eyes. In fact nothing in their eyes. And a total lack of appreciation that this might be considered rude.

But Wuhan was more like Beijing. I walked for miles around Wuhan and all I attracted was the odd inquisitive look. It seemed that people in Wuhan had better things to do than stare at foreigners.

The main things to see in Wuhan are the beautiful lakes and of course the mighty Yangtze. However Wuhan is home to the Hubei Province Museum which holds a great deal of archaeological material. Most impressive is the Chime Bells from the Warring States period. They have appeared on Western TV several times.