Wuhan – An Alley of Food!

11 Jun

So Rachelle and I had settled into our hotel room in Wuhan, tried to do some sightseeing before the conference began, were thwarted and frustrated and had the expected marital spat, and had returned home for a good night’s sleep on the hard hotel beds.  Pro Tip: Since Wuhan is at the center of China and most long-distance transportation passes right through it, it has been called, “The Chicago of China.”  This is a crap moniker, as a few moments trying to deal with traffic will reveal that it is, in fact, Pittsburgh, but with fewer bridges.  But I digress.

Rachelle was off to rub shoulders with her fellow academics, so I had the day to explore.  I took the Nexus, with some of the surrounding area pre-loaded on Google Maps, and a note from one of Rachelle’s students to assist me (best part ever: “P.S. If you think a Wuhanese is shouting at you, he is most likely not, because Wuhan dialect sounds short-tempered”), and took it upon myself to head, in an indirect manner, to 户部巷(Hu4 Bu4 Xiang4), a slightly touristy area full of food vendors, to explore some local cuisine, and maybe find some interesting sights along the way.

Do I want my shop's name to make no sense?

Do I want my shop’s name to make no sense?

The weather was beautiful, so after a quick metro ride to the end of the street it was supposed to be near, I resolved to walk the rest of the way.  Interesting(?) note: Wuhan’s subways have automated libraries.

Self-Service Library

Self-Service Library

The sign, which can’t be read because my camera is super-cheap, says something to the effect of “Self-Service Library,” and I did see a young couple using one, so they’re not just there for decoration.

Anyway.  I checked a bus stop and found that my destination was way on the other end of the street.  I hadn’t eaten yet, so I grabbed a bowl of a local specialty, 热干面(re4 gan1 mian4, “hot dry noodles”) which took seconds to make and 3.5 kuai to purchase, and started walking as I munched.

Noodly goodness.

Noodly goodness.

It was a long walk, and I ended up missing it the first time around.  Then, after reaching the end of the road and turning around, and passing a block-long line of people who appeared to be buying zongzi from a particular store for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival, I saw a sign under a pedestrian bridge, pointing towards my destination.  Through a narrowish gateway was an alley full of colors and scents (some good, some stinky tofu, so at least my nose hairs are shorter), and I was able to take pictures. And then, the next day, I came back with Rachelle and our new friend Scott, and ate and drank and took more pictures.

The first time I found the alley, I was still full from the noodles.  On the return trip, though, we all ate ourselves near bursting.  Rachelle was the first to find 豆皮(dou4 pi2), a fried tofu skin over rice and other yummy things, and we also decided to get some 粽子(zong4 zi), the Chinese answer to tamales, 饺子(jiao3 zi), our favorite yummy dumplings, and some fantastic curry potatoes.  We sat down, started eating, and drank enough beer to get the locals staring like they were from Guangdong province (original home of the slack-jawed stare).

Full and happy, and slightly buzzed, we headed back to the hotel and prepared to catch our train home.

The alley:

Other sights along the way:

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