|A small section of the East Lake 东湖|
Amidst work commitment, personal matters, general tiredness, laziness and mood swings, I quite frankly forgot to sit down and share my trip to Wuhan's East Lake with you.
During the spring festival, I drove past the East Lake at least two dozen times. It's my fish's preferred route when driving from Wuchang to Hankou. The distance is longer but the driving time is usually shorter. It beats trying to brave city traffic, which is mental in Wuhan at the best of times and therefore not good for anyone's nerves. Let alone for a Chinese fish who has to drive and simultaneously deal with his nagging girlfriend. Sometimes I do wonder how I survive my daily commute to and from work what with all the mental driving that is going on on the roads...
I'll try not to go off topic this time though, so let's just forget all about Wuhan traffic. That's a different story for another day.
So yes, where was I?
Oh yes, the East Lake.
Largest urban lake in China and all that (according to Wikipedia). Take that Hangzhou!
|Yep, it's big.|
|from 省博物馆 (Hubei Provincial Museum) to 磨山景区 (Moshan Scenic Area)|
We rounded about half the lake, though this really depends on how you look at it. It's doable and actually quite enjoyable, just not in 35 degrees heat and high humidity. I got countless of mosquito bites, apparently Chinese mosquitoes consider me to be a sweet dessert. I disagree but apparently I'm a minority here in China, they outvoted me. How and why they chose my calves will forever be a mystery to me.
|Awesome Chinese medicine!!!|
I'll spare you all the details about the size of the lake and all the things you can do there. Quite frankly I have no idea exactly how big the lake is and I fear I'll bore you half to death if I start filling my blog with figures and facts. You know that's not me, anything mathematical is unwelcome in my world. So really, it's enough for you to know that Wuhan's East Lake is China's largest urban lake. Also the list of things you can do at the lake is pretty long. In fact it's so long that coming up with a list of things you can't do proved to be a bit of a headache so I'm afraid I don't have that for you either.
|You can ride white elephants!!!|
Sarcasm aside, the lake's surrounding area is nothing but stunning. While the lake is pretty much in the heart of Wuhan City, the area around the lake is quiet, calm and peaceful. No noisy construction sites, no annoying car honking, no loud chatter, no city noise full stop. You can see the city, you can see the construction cranes, but the sounds of nature (birds chirping, splashing waves, cicadas and crickets) make for some beautiful background music. It's a bit like one of those "Relax with Nature" CDs you can buy, only you get it for free.
Every so often one or three of the boat captains along the shore will disturb the peace and quiet when they try to chase you down, offering you one discount after the offer just so you hop on board their little boat and let them take you across the lake. My suggestion for getting rid of them: Point at a random guy far ahead and state that he's your tour guide (他是我的/我们的导游). What you're actually saying is "I'd love to take a cruise on the lake with you but I can't, it's my tour guide's decision." While the owner of the boat chases down the poor bloke you chose to act as your victim, you have plenty of time to escape.
Taking a cruise from one side of the lake to the other is actually a fun thing to do but that day we wanted to walk, though we hadn't actually planned to walk or go to the lake at all. We actually went shopping and then we wanted to visit Hubei Provincial Museum but we were late and they wouldn't let us in. So we chose to take a walk along the lake instead.
It was a blast up until we got lost, around that time we didn't really want to walk any more. When you're tired, sweaty, hungry, mosquito-bitten, your feet are aching and you really need to find a toilet, the last thing you want is to get lost somewhere around the East Lake after dusk. Being able to see the car park and watch one car after the other drive off didn't help either. Then there are public buses in Wuhan and when you finally find the bus number you need, it's both a blessing and a curse. The driver's are even crazier than your average Chinese driver and that is saying something. Of course it isn't the driver's driving skills we must question, it's the existence of all those pesky potholes, the construction sites, the e-bikers who will suddenly veer in front of the bus, forcing the driver to slam his foot on the break or the inability of Chinese driver's to indicate when changing lanes.
If you want some good advice, here's your golden rule: If there's an empty seat, plonk yourself down and whatever you do, DO NOT get up until you reach your stop. I tried standing a few times, you know I wanted to play the foreign superwoman and all that, and each time I ended up being almost thrown through the entire bus.
I fear I went off topic again though, so back to the lake it is.
|Lotus field at dusk.|
There's so much construction going on here in Wuhan that it can be quite a challenge to take a picture without a crane on it. Whichever angle I tried, I couldn't get the shoot without the crane, but now I just think it makes for a unique "This Is Wuhan" picture.
During the Spring Festival the weather was too cold and the air too polluted for the fish and I to actually go to the lake and enjoy our time there. Every time we drove past the lake it was foggy and the lake appeared to be more of a big puddle than a mesmerising lake surrounded by stunning architecture, nature and botanic beauty. Now that autumn has finally arrived, the weather is perfect for a lazy stroll around the lake. Sadly my fish is up to his eyebrows in work so I went out with some friends instead.
I'm not good at giving you directions of how to get to the lake (it really depends on which part of the lake you want to get to) or telling you what you should be doing when you do arrive at the East Lake but my recommendation would be to put on some comfortable shoes, grab your camera and wander off. See where you end up, you'll discover plenty of beautiful places all around the lake and with no pressure to arrive somewhere in time you can just randomly pick a place to relax. Look out over the lake and dream the afternoon away or bring a book/iPad/Kindle/music. Take your loved one or a good friend or just yourself out for an aimless stroll. Plan when you get there and decide on what to do next when you have enough of the lake. In my opinion it's the best way to enjoy the beauty of the East Lake.
|A preferred spot for wedding pictures.|