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 Thursday, 15 November 2018
China Insider: Wuhan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shangri-La   
Monday, 11 December 2006


A quarterly newsletter of “insider tips” on China’s latest travel news including the best and latest in restaurants, retail, entertainment and culture, culled from general managers, concierge and staff of Shangri-La’s 20 China hotels.

This issue’s feature city: Wuhan
http://home.olemiss.edu/~gg/wuhan/wuhnguan.jpg
NEWS FROM AROUND CHINA

TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT

DIRECT TO TIBET

After a direct train from Beijing to Lhasa opened for business in June 2006 two more routes – direct from Shanghai and Guangzhou – are now up and running. Cargo and passenger trains leave every two days from both cities taking 51 hours and 57 hours respectively. The first two months saw the trains carrying 450,000 passengers and over 200,000 tonnes of cargo in and out of Tibet.

SHANGHAI METRO LINKS
The Shanghai government recently revealed plans for a 10th Metro line connecting northeastern Xinjiangwan with Hongqiao Airport. The 34-kilometre line will stop at all the city’s popular entertainment areas, including Huai Hai Road, Nanjing Road and Yu Gardens. It is anticipated that by 2010 Shanghai Metro network will be ranked as the world’s third largest with 11 lines built to carry 5.8 million passengers every day.

TRENDS

LUXURY IS NO LONGER A MAN’S WORLD

Until recently men accounted for 90% of luxury spending in China. Now a recent survey by KPMG and TNS shows the scales are changing with affluent young Chinese women catching up with their counterparts. China is currently the world’s third largest consumer of luxury goods after Japan and the US and is expected to grow 20% annually until 2008. By 2015 it is estimated that China will consume just under a third of the world’s total luxury goods.

ENTERTAINMENT

A GRAND OPENING

An Autumn 2007 opening has been announced for Beijing’s National Grand Theatre, located west of the Great Hall of the people and designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Surrounded by a lake with an enormous titanium dome, it is said to resemble an egg floating on water. Its ultra-modern design has sparked fierce debate amongst domestic architectural experts.

HERE FOR THE RIDE
China is attracting an increasing number of theme parks and museums. In 2006, at least five major attractions opened including Britain’s Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Shanghai. In 2007 US-based Ripley Entertainment is hoping to open one of its signature “Believe or Not” museums in Shanghai while construction of Paramount Theme Park, costing US$625 million, is already underway in Tianjin city, North China.

OLYMPIC UPDATES

TICKET SALES

The Beijing Olympic Organising Committee has just released the ticket prices for the 2008 Olympics. The prices for the opening ceremony range from RMB200 to RMB5,000; for the games from RMB30 to RMB1,000; and for the closing ceremony from RMB150 to RMB3,000. Ticket sales will begin in the first half of 2007 in China.

WORLD CLASS DIRECTORS CREATE A VISION FOR BEIJING
As part of the ongoing “Vision Beijing” programme, award-winning director Oliver Stone, joined by Iranian film master Majid Majidi, will create various short films depicting Beijing to promote the city in the lead up to the 2008 Games.

SPORTS PERSONALITY TO SUPER STAR
Pamela Nicholson -- composer, artist, star-maker and mother of violinist Vanessa-Mae
-- will launch a new reality television show on CCTV5, the official broadcaster of the Olympics. Eight contestants, all former Chinese Olympic medalists, will compete to become the “New World Music Star.” The show will premiere in Beijing in 2008 and will then tour every city that has ever hosted the Olympic Games.

XINHUA NAMED HOST NEWS AGENCY
The International Olympic Committee has officially named China’s Xinhua News Agency as the Host Agency for the 29th Olympic Games. The agreement entrusts Xinhua to set up the National Olympic Photograph Pool while AP, Reuters and AFP will organize the International Olympic Photograph Pool.

HOT NEW VENUES

RESTAURANTS

BUND BAR WITH A VIEW

Attica, with a huge Balinese terrace overlooking the Haungpu River and Pudong skyline, is the latest addition to Shanghai’s glamorous Bund. With dance rooms, two huge terraces and a sophisticated Mediterranean restaurant, Finestre, it’s the city’s latest elite hangout.

A NEW FACE IN BEIJING
It was first in Jakarta, Bangkok and Shanghai – now Face Bar has gone North with its recent opening in Beijing. With rich, warm colours, Southeast Asian furniture, delicious Thai food and rustic Indian cuisine, it is set to become this year’s winter retreat in the city.

HOT LOFT
Beijing’s popular The Loft has just got hotter, reinventing itself into the city’s first designer hotpot restaurant. Retaining its industrialized style, Hot Loft now serves Hong Kong and Thai hotpot dishes in its two restaurants in the Sanlitun and Gongti areas.

EXTREME ELEGANCE
Opened by popular Chinese author Hai Yan in Beijing’s CBD, Delicieaux has become one of the most elegant new Chinese restaurants in town. Fusing tasty Chinese dishes and Western favourites, it’s a great choice for visitors easing their way into Chinese cuisine.

HATS OFF TO HATSUNE
Hatsune, rated amongst the best Japanese restaurants in Beijing, is soon to open a second restaurant in Shanghai’s French Concession. Its imaginative sushi and fun atmosphere is anticipated to be another huge culinary draw to the area.

MEI’S MANSION
At Mei’s Mansion, guests can dine amongst the memories of brilliant Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang. His photographs, furniture and prized gramophone remain unchanged; in fact the only thing missing is the host himself. There’s no menu and diners rely on the chef to construct a menu from over 600 dishes.

RETAIL THERAPY

SPREADING THE WORD: CHATERHOUSE

With the widest selection of foreign language books in mainland China, Chaterhouse has now opened its first store in Beijing. A third Shanghai store is due to open in Spring 2007 at the Shanghai Center on Nanjing Road.

BEAUTY UNDERFOOT
Torana House, selling beautiful Tibetan rugs and chests, has moved to a large lane house off Shaanxi Road in Shanghai’s French Concession. With shops also in Beijing and Shanghai, it specializes in antique Tibetan rugs and modern interpretations, all made in Tibet by traditional weaving methods.

KATHERIN VON RECHENBERG
German fashion designer Katherin Von Rechenberg has opened a new atelier showroom in Beijing. Using rare ‘tea silk,” her designs in casual and evening wear are beautifully simple with subtle Asian details.

DESTINATION: WUHAN

Where the Han River flows into the gaping Yangtze, the ancient riverside towns of Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang have amalgamated into the thriving capital of Hubei Province -- Wuhan. As a commercial hub for Central China and the drop off point for many of the Three Gorges River cruises, the city receives a constant flow of visitors. While some use the city as a connecting point to other destinations many stay longer to enjoy the numerous historical and cultural attractions.

There are two distinct temperaments in Wuhan. Hankou, home to one of the largest inland ports in China, lies to the west of the city and has a frenetic buzz. Cargo ships charge up the Yangtze hooting and barging their way through the busy waterways whilst onshore lively markets sell local produce and artefacts. East of the Yangtze River, life is a little calmer in Wuchang, dominated by 80 square kilometres of parklands and lakes scattered with ancient temples and peaceful gardens.

Known as one of China’s three “furnaces” with a scorching summer and freezing winter, the best times to visit are from March to June and September to November.

Insider Tip: The best way to discover the city is by foot, wandering down the riverside promenade, the old Concession area, the lively markets and relaxing in one of the city’s many gardens.

ATTRACTIONS

Yellow Crane Tower

Set peacefully atop She Shan (Snake’s Hill), Yellow Crane Tower is a prominent symbol of Wuhan, standing impressively tall at over 50 metres. Its 72 wooden pillars, yellow glazed tiles and delicate curved roofs are a beautiful replication of the original Qing Dynasty tower that was destroyed by fire.

Insider Tip: For repeat visitors, an annual ticket costs a marginal 10RMB more than a single entry ticket.

East Lake and Dong Hu Park
East Lake covers 33 square kilometres of the extensive Dong Hu parklands. Nestled into Loujia Hill at the edge of the lake, Wuhan University is said by many to be the most beautiful in the world. It’s surrounded by open green spaces and gardens, including the Cherry Blossom Garden and Forest of the Birds.

Insider Tip: Visit at the end of March or early April to see the gardens flooded with blossoming trees and spectacularly vivid flowers.

Moshan Hill
Bordered on three sides by East Lake and rising into six lush green peaks, Moshan Hill was the homeland of the 800-year-old Chu Kingdom and many relics still remain.
Insider Tip: Dedicate a whole morning or afternoon to wandering around the beautiful gardens, historic sites and forest trails.

Hubei Provincial Museum
This is considered one of the best museums in the country with over 200,000 artefacts and comprehensive English explanations. Particularly interesting are the many articles excavated from the tomb of Marquis Yi who was buried in 433BC with 15,000 bronze and wooden objects 21 women and a dog!

Insider Tip: From here it’s a scenic, lakeside walk to Dong Hu Park.

Villa of Chairman Mao Zedong
Built in 1958 as one of Mao’s several retreats, this particular summer home was used to entertain such notables as President Richard Nixon. Now open to the public it gives a fascinating insight into the everyday life and possessions of Mao from his bedroom slippers to the excessively large swimming pool.

Former French Concession
The former Bund and Jianghan Street create the colonial core of the city with a strong European heritage and beautiful colonial buildings.

FURTHER AFIELD

Three Gorges Yangtze River Cruise

Despite water level changes as a consequence of the Three Gorges Damn Project, the river cruise from Wuhan to Chongqing is a fascinating journey through Central China’s rural landscape. From Wuhan, a three-day boat trip takes you through broad river plains, historic remains and local villages to Yichang and the beginning of the Three Gorges.

Insider Tip: For those with time restrictions, a train goes from Wuhan to Yichang in less than four hours where travellers can pick up other cruises.

Wudang Shan
In northwest Hubei Province the holy mountain range of Wudang Shan is scattered with Tang Dynasty Taoist temples. With over 72 pinnacles, the mountain range peaks at its 1600 metre Tianzhu summit that can be reached in a scenic eight-hour trek from Wudang Shan town, by minibus or (partway) by cable car.

LOCAL DELICACIES

Wuhan has a strong snacking tradition and you’ll find bountiful food stalls. Hubei specialties are a blend of various local influences including fish, particularly yellow fish from the Yangtze, and mouth-tingling peppers from nearby Sichuan Province.

Jiqing Jie is a lively night street brimming with food stalls, singers, musicians and flower sellers. For 400 years, Hu Bu Xiang alley has been bustling with locals who come for Wuhan’s distinctive guo zao (breakfast on the go). An outdoor garden and traditional Chinese architecture make Wu’s Garden a great destination to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of tea and cakes.

SHOPPING

Walking Street

Jianghan Avenue is one of the longest pedestrianised streets in China, making up the central shopping drag of the city.

Insider Tip: For 2RMB a tourist car will take you one-way down the street.

Hanzheng Street and Hanjiang Road
In Wuhan’s major wholesale district, traditional Chinese shops sell all kinds of gifts, gadgets and memorabilia.

Insider Tip: Whilst haggling is expected, the Wuhanese are traditionally shrewd and will put up a fierce battle. Just keep smiling, remain stubborn and expect to pay 30% of the asking price.

UPCOMING EVENTS

CHINESE NEW YEAR

Celebrating the last in the cycle of twelve animal years, 18 February 2007 will welcome in The Year of The Pig – a year for fortune and good luck. As a result many Chinese will be striving to marry and give birth on auspicious dates throughout 2007. The Spring Festival, surrounding Chinese New Year, is the country’s most significant annual celebration and four days of parades, festivals and a carnival atmosphere will dominate the country.

Insider Tips:
If you’re in Beijing, the action gathers around the city’s many temple fairs. Most famous is Changdian, held along the pedestrian street of Liulichang. Here vendors line the street selling crafts, gifts and food including paintings, toys, kites, sticky pancakes and hot sweet potatoes. Amongst these bustling stalls performers entertain the crowds with martial arts, Peking Opera and folk dancing.

If you’re in Shanghai, take a taxi to Longhua Temple, near the Botanical Gardens, where at midnight 108 Buddhist monks climb the Drum Tower to strike the huge temple bell. For a party atmosphere the bars along Maoming or Tongren Road celebrate with fireworks, music and dancing.

HARBIN ICE AND LANTERN FESTIVAL
In February, making the most of its freezing winter, Harbin will host the annual ice festival. Ice and snow sculptures are skillfully carved and then, not so skillfully, destroyed by mallets in a carnival atmosphere. There’s little chance of the sculptures melting with an average temperature of 15 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.1 to -9.4 degrees Celsius), but guests should wrap up warm.

VASALOPPET CHINA
Asia’s biggest ski event will be held from 2 to 4 January 2007 in Jinguetan National Park in Changchu. Celebrating the event’s fifth anniversary, competitors from over 15 countries will compete in various events including a 50 kilometre ski race.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 December 2006 )
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