Six photos from the Yangtze

Today, Americans all over the world give thanks that the English invented them. Bu yong xie, it was our pleasure. In completely irrelevant celebration, here are six photos from a recent trip from spicy Chongqing down the foggy Yangtze to mind-crunchingly boring Wuhan.


Everyone has time for a noodle pit-stop in Chongqing. Your worth in this city is judged by your tolerance for spice. That night, eating hotpot with friends, I held back tears at the hottest lettuce I have ever tasted.

Chongqing’s reputation is of a smog-smothered Gotham. But not far outside the city, the scenery is worthy of a classical painting. I came across this vase standing on a wall in just such a quiet spot, at dusk.

On my boat downstream, I felt like a cow being herded through over-grazed pastures. Here you may take a photo. Here you may pay an extortionate entrance fee to a temple. Here you may chew the cud.

At Yichang, we make port and the Yangtze is shrouded in mist. Behind me, I overhear a Chinese fellow traveller boasting “look, I took 409 photos in three days”. “More than me”, someone replies, enviously.

In Wuhan’s Yellow Crane Tower museum, I come across the most obviously photoshopped photograph ever. Brazenly displayed, with others just like it at either side. Seriously, who do they think they’re kidding?

The pagoda forest at Shaolin monastery … the only place on the grounds where fighting is discouraged. The first monk I came across in Shaolin, by the way, asked me how to say ‘shopping’ in English.


  1. Im very glad u had a trip in chongqing。the hotpot always waits for u haha!~

  2. 2012有没有看啊?

  3. 我受到人民的批评!

    steven: Wuhan was only boring for me, and to be fair I will take out the ‘mind-crunchingly’. I appreciated the view from the big bridge, and am hooked for life on 热干面. Wuchang is an area rich in history. my expat friend there had only good things to say about the city. nethertheless, I feel that Wuhan exemplifies a certain characterless – on the surface at least – of big, sprawling Chinese cities. I find that especially provincial capitals can be horribly monotonous (Zhengzhou perhaps a better example), with the exception of those with a unique and apparent character of their own (like Chongqing, in my eyes) or international cities like Shanghai. Chinese friends have echoed this. once more, I am talking about *first impressions only*, if I were to live in Wuhan I’m sure I would find much uniqueness to love in no time at all.

    what do you mean by Beida being “eugenics” oriented?

    k: fair enough. I won’t blow this off by saying it was only a joke (although … it was…) as I get your perspective. don’t give up on the English! tossers aside, we don’t consider our culture superior. we know there is nuance in US culture. and we enjoy the spirit of thanksgiving too. by all means consider the snark you object to as rudeness, but don’t mistake it for lack of respect. and good luck not coming across irritating attitudes to the US in China.

    celine: that’s fantastic, i had no idea. thanks for this.

  4. the vase~ it used for wine bottle by a famous brand of wine in Chongqing named 诗仙太白, indicating the poetic genius 李太白,李白. ~ I miss spice noodles there.

  5. Nice pictures, but damn, will you English ever stop?! The Thanksgivin’ story we folksy, friendly, backwoods bumpkin ‘mericans like to tell our young is about givin’ thanks for a good harvest and ain’t got nothin’ to do with you folks over’ta Eng-a-land. But then again, you knew that.

    The thing I understand least about the type of nonchalant, off-the-cuff rudeness that colored my perception of all this post and permeated discussions I’ve had with English people in the past week is that I’ve never met an English person who doesn’t actually LOVE Thanksgiving. (The 10 who came to my house today professed to enjoy it, at the very least.) What galls me is the tacit assumption that British culture is somehow better or above American culture when the reality is that both have nuance and shading where many Brits assume there is none.

    It’s about respect. We afford it to you, why don’t you offer us the same common courtesy?

    (As a side note, I love living here in the UK but will definitely move away within the next year. I love the place, but I just can’t stand the English. China it is, then.)

  6. Tell me more why you think Wuhan is boring? Although Chongqing and Chengdu are popular places for expats, Wuhan is quite a lively city for lots of Chinese–me is one of them who stayed there for undergrad. I have found a trend, also proved by your posts, that expats are obsessed by BJ,SH,Hnagzhou and other “popular” places. You wrote lots of stuff from Beida and Tsinghua, but sometimes you should keep in mind that Wuhan has 51 universities,which unlike Beida are not that “eugenics” oriented.

    Have a great thanks giving!

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