a trip to xiangfan


A Trip to Xiangfan

 

I am writing this journal entry in a hotel room in the city of Xiangfan. I am still on my business trip.

 

Why

 

One of my younger colleagues is here in this city, taking part in the provincial-level English teaching contest. I don’t like teaching competitions. However, at her persistent invitation and following the school’s arrangement, I took the trip with her, accompanied by two other colleagues. My task is to advise her on her teaching and to learn from all the contestants.

 

The Shiyan-Xiangfan Expressway

 

A friend took us from Shiyan to Xiangfan in his private car. There were altogether four passengers plus the driver, who was the friend. It was the first time I had ever travelled on an expressway and it felt very good and comfy to ride fast and smoothly. Even one of the colleagues, who is bus sick normally, was chatting all the way, showing no sign of discomfort. No vomiting, no dizziness.

 

It was late autumn. The scenery along the way was typically of the season. A lot of ripe oranges were still on the trees and the colour was eye-catching on hillsides. The summery green was being replaced by red, brown and orange.

 

The countryside where the expressway runs was still clean and the cottages here and there reminded me of my hometown.

 

My city is mountainous. As we were travelling further and further away from my city, the landscape was gradually changing from mountains to hills, and finally flatland. The city of Xiangfan lies in a plain, with very few hills around.

 

As the car approached our destination, we noticed the city was shrouded by a mist. My city is little but clean and a clear and blue sky is still something common. But the city where we were entering lies in a plain, the population is bigger, and industrial pollution is more serious. All these factors contribute to the shroud we saw.

 

The Hotel

 

We went to the hotel where we were supposed to sign in. All the fees were paid and we were settled in a room for 2. My male colleague and I shared a room and the two females shared another.

 

The room was well furnished, and well facilitated. All the modern conveniences were in place – telephone, bath, Internet access, and TV, for example. I was surprised by the Internet access. I had not expected it. That’s why I am writing my blog now on line. Thank Goodness.

 

My male colleague and I know how rampant prostitution is now in China and a midnight call testified to the severity of the problem. We were disturbed by a phone call from those sex workers offering their service, which of course was rejected.

 

All the three meals were covered by the fees we had paid. And we ate in the hotel dining hall. All the meals were buffets, with hot dishes and cold dishes, meat and veggies, soup and desserts. You took a plate and got whatever you wanted.

 

Unluckily I, together with some others attending the event, started to suffer from diarrhoea. Probably we were not used to the food here or probably the cold dishes served were not hygienic enough. I avoided the cold dishes and the fruits. To my relief, I got much better on the second day and on the third day the diarrhoea was gone. My appetite became as strong as ever.

 

Xiangfan

 

This city of Xiangfan is a regional centre of Northwest Hubei. It is bigger than my city in population and area. My city is a regional centre of Northwest Hubei, too. The river Hanjiang goes from my city to Xiangfan, from where it continues to flow into the Yangtze at the city of Wuhan.

 

Agriculture is still one of the pillar industries of the city, though its significance and share in the whole economy have been on the decline over the decades. Manufacturing and food processing are getting more and more important. Tourism is growing fast, too. Xiangfan is a historical city, some important sites left behind – Longzhong, which is popularly believed to have been Zhuge Liang’s home, and some sections of the ancient city wall.

 

The city is also a transport hub. Some main railway lines cross at the city and some inter-province expressways and highways meet here, too. The train station is one of the busiest in the country.

 

Food, language, and customs are similar to those of my city. Restaurant food is heavily influenced by Sichuan and Hunan flavours and home meals taste plain and to the taste buds of people from other parts of China, meals in most families here are boring and a bit peasantry.

 

Time is getting late. Anyway I will be heading back home tomorrow afternoon. At this time tomorrow evening I will be on duty in my school. I will describe the trip further later. And I will be able to see my epals soon.

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