Wuhan, the Chinese city in Hubei Province where the COVID-19 outbreak first began, will be lifting its travel restrictions on April 8, a local official said last week. The city has been under a complete lockdown, with barriers that prevent travel movement in and out the city, since Jan. 23.
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However, people in China and around the world should not remember Wuhan as the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, but instead remember it as an ancient and beautiful “River City.”
Lying on the Jianghan Plain where the Yangtze River joins the Han River, Wuhan is the capital of Hubei Province and one of the most popular cities in central China. As a city with an ancient history that has transformed into a modern metropolis, Wuhan served as the cradle of the Chu civilization (770 B.C. – 221 B.C.) and also as the wartime capital of China in 1937.
While the river city of Wuhan is once again drawing public attention on the global stage, Pandaily would love to introduce several places that are worth a visit after the epidemic completely subsides around the world.
When visiting Wuhan, the best time to travel is March and April, since this is when Wuhan has its famous cherry blossom season. Right now, no city in China is more deserving of a message of hope and renewal than Wuhan.
Wuhan University holds an annual cherry blossom festival and attracts 15,000 people per day on weekdays with the number doubling on weekends. Visitors can see the flowers continuously blossoming in Kunpeng Plaza, all the way to the Administration Building of Wuhan University. There are three hotspots for seeing the flowers: Cherry Garden, the Old House, and Cherry Avenue.
This season, however, the campus is nearly empty due to the lockdown.
The East Lake Scenic Area of Wuhan is another place to see flowers blossom. The Mo Shan Scenic Area located in the southern bank of East Lake has a few botanical gardens with abundant trees and flowers, such as cherries, lotus flowers and plums. This place usually holds flower blossom festivals based on different blooming seasons.
Yellow Crane Tower
People say that if you haven’t been to the Yellow Crane Tower, you haven’t been to Wuhan. The Yellow Crane Tower, or Huáng hè lóu in Chinese, is the most iconic building in all of Wuhan. Built around 1,800 years ago, it was the watchtower of the city, and because of that, found itself repeatedly destroyed by warfare and fire, only to be rebuilt and rise from the ashes again and again.
Known for the poetry of several celebrated Chinese poets such as Cui Hao and Li Bai, the Yellow Crane Tower has a room in the upper floor that is specifically reserved for the notes of visiting poets. The cultural value of the Tower mainly stems from its presence in poetry and in immortals, which are two prominent cultural forms in Chinese history.
Hubei Provincial Museum
Hubei Provincial Museum houses more than 200,000 historic and cultural relics from throughout the province, of which 16 are national treasures. As one of the best known museums in the country, there aren’t many better places to learn the glorious complexity of Chinese history.
The centerpiece is the world’s largest musical instrument — an ancient set of bronze bells, “biān zhōng” in Chinese, which you won’t find anywhere else in China, not even in Beijing’s Palace Museum. Note that a replica of the massive Chime Bells is played twice a day in the museum’s music hall by performers dressed in traditional robes. This performance is a must-see when in Wuhan.
Tanhualin Walking Street
Tanhualin is an ancient street located in Wuchang district with buildings over 100 years old. The area is home to various weather-beaten historical buildings such as Boone Memorial School, the London Miaaion Hospital (built in 1895), Shi Ying’s former residence and the former residence of Qian Jibo (father of Qian Zhongshu).
Today, visitors can spend a relaxing day out at the small shops and eateries on Tanhualin Street, have tea-break at a coffee shop, make artifacts at a DIY store or buy souvenirs from local designers. The tranquil atmosphere on this street is not common in most modern Chinese cities.
Located on the city’s busiest street, Hubu Alley is a paradise for food lovers. The 147-meter-long T-shaped pedestrian street is full of appetizing local food and mouth-watering smells.
Rè gān miàn, also known as hot dry noodles, might be the most well-known Wuhan dish. Made from sesame paste, scallions, soy sauce, vegetables and, of course, noodles, the dish tastes spicy but sweet. First, the noodles are boiled and then tossed with oil and left to dry. You will see lots of people slurping these tasty noodles all around you.
Dòu pí is another must-have. It’s a local omelet made with stick rice, beef, mushrooms and beans, all wrapped in an outer layer of bean curd and cooked in a large wok. You might think it looks heavy for a snack, but this high-calorie food will provide you with sufficient energy for the rest of your day.
Wuhan is a major transportation hub, with dozens of domestic railways and flights connecting Wuhan to more than 30 major cities worldwide. Wuhan is also on the list of 72-hour Visa-free transit cities in China. Visitors from the US, Canada and 49 other countries can explore Wuhan for up to three days without a visa.
Even though the city is still closed to foreign arrivals, residents are now able to travel within the city as the pandemic is dwindling in China. This “River City” with a population of 11 million people is optimistic that life will return to normal in the near future.