For the love of Wuhan
Updated: 2013-10-15 07:39
By Sun Ye (China Daily)
Fang Fang writes novels, prose, historical stories and travel logs.
Each format shares one thing in common: Most are set in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province - the place she knows and loves the most.
"My family moved to Wuhan when I was 2 and I've been here ever since. It's Wuhan that I dream of when I'm away."
She comments on its rise and growth, compares it to every other city she goes to, and collects stories from its past. In recent years, she has produced several documentary books on the city's various districts and architectural feats.
Her suggestion of a route to navigate the "city of water", is to start the area that has the Yellow Crane Tower (a symbol of gratitude to one Taoist priest) and the poetic Qingchuan Pavilion.
"There, you see the clear Hanjiang River water mixing with the muddier, yellow Yangtze River. Two colors, as two different identities merge." That's one key to understanding the city.
"To me, it's also the most beautiful, protected area in Wuhan," Fang says.
"Then you should go to Hankou and see how the city establishes itself."
Hankou (kou for mouth) used to be a plot of swamp, as the passing river continues to wash it wider and wider.
"When the mouth opened big enough, ships came in and commerce commenced," she explains.
The port started to grow slowly and sparingly on its own until technology advanced enough to welcome iron ships.
"That's when Westerners came in, on the undisturbed land they built up the leased territory, that now houses so many stories."
There is also the sprawling East Lake, not far from her residence. "East Lake is several times the size of West Lake in Hangzhou," Fang says.
"Here, we have impressive rivers, mountains in a stately grand style, reflecting the type of people who live here."
Fang says Wuhan residents are generous in the fashion of ancient swordsman. "They may seem a little intimidating to those who meet them first, but that's not really who they are, they just talk in a fast and clear-cut way."
The city has a large number of college students and alleyways full of snacks (like Hubuxiang) will always be her favorite.
But Fang has one final tip.
"It's true that the city is stifling hot in summer, try to avoid that."