Sunday, 4 March 2018

CHINA: Hubei, Chinese Whacky Foods Like Dog , Cat, Snail, Frog, Pig's Blood In Plenty

Hubei is a province in the southern central region of China located in the Central China region. The name of the province means north of the lake, referring to its position north of Dongting Lake.

The provincial capital is Wuhan, a major transportation thoroughfare and the political, cultural, and economic hub of Central China.

Hubei is officially abbreviated to E, an ancient name associated with the eastern part of the province since the Qin dynasty, while a popular name for Hubei is Chu, after the powerful State of Chu that existed during the Eastern Zhou dynasty.

It borders Henan to the north, Anhui to the east, Jiangxi to the southeast, Hunan to the south, Chongqing to the west, and Shaanxi to the northwest. The high-profile Three Gorges Dam is located at Yichang, in the west of the province.

The Jianghan Plain takes up most of central and southern Hubei, while the west and the peripheries are more mountainous, with ranges such as the Wudang Mountains, the Jing Mountains, the Daba Mountains, and the Wu Mountains in rough north-to-south order.

The Dabie Mountains lie to the northeast of the Janghan Plain, on the border with Henan and Anhui; the Tongbai Mountains lie to the north on the border with Henan; to the southeast, the Mufu Mountains form the border with Jiangxi.

The highest peak in Hubei is Shennong Peak, found in the Daba Mountains and in the forestry area of Shennongjia; it has an altitude of 3105 m.

The two major rivers of Hubei are the Yangtze and its left tributary, the Hanshui; they lend their names to the Jianghan Plain.

The Yangtze River enters Hubei from the west via the Three Gorges; the eastern half of the Three Gorges the Xiling Gorge and part of Wu Gorge lie in western Hubei, while the western half is in neighbouring Chongqing.

The Han River enters the province from the northwest. After crossing most of the province, the two great rivers meet at Wuhan, the provincial capital.

Among the notable tributaries of the Yangtze within the province are the Shen Nong Stream a small northern tributary, severely affected by the Three Gorges Dam project.

The Qing, a major waterway of southwestern Hubei; the Huangbo near Yichang; and the Fushui River in the southeast.

Snow is comparatively rare in Wuhan, Thousands of lakes dot the landscape of Hubei's Jianghan Plain, giving Hubei the name of Province of Lakes; the largest of these lakes are Liangzi Lake and Hong Lake.

The numerous hydrodams have created a number of large reservoirs, the largest of which is the Danjiangkou Reservoir on the Han River, on the border between Hubei and Henan.

Hubei has a humid subtropical climate, with four distinct seasons. Winters are cool to cold, with average temperatures of 1 to 6 °C (34 to 43 °F) in January, while summers are hot and humid, with average temperatures of 24 to 30 °C (75 to 86 °F) in July.

Punishing temperatures of 40 °C (104 °F) or above are widely associated with Wuhan, the provincial capital.

The mountainous districts of western Hubei, in particular Shennongjia, with their cooler summers, attract numerous visitors from Wuhan and other lowland cities.

Besides the capital Wuhan, other important cities are Jingmen; Shiyan, a center of automotive industry and the gateway to the Wudang Mountains.

Yichang, the main base for the gigantic hydroelectric projects of southwestern Hubei; and Shashi.

Hubei is divided into thirteen prefecture-level divisions of which there are twelve prefecture-level cities (including a sub-provincial city) and one autonomous prefecture.

As well as three directly administered county-level cities all sub-prefecture-level cities and one directly administered county-level forestry area.

The thirteen prefecture-level divisions and four directly administered county-level divisions of Hubei are subdivided into 103 county-level divisions, 39 districts, 24 county-level cities, 37 counties, 2 autonomous counties, 1 forestry district; the directly administered county-level divisions are included here.

Those are in turn divided into 1234 township-level divisions 737 towns, 215 townships, nine ethnic townships, and 273 subdistricts.

Hubei is often called the Land of Fish and Rice. Important agricultural products in Hubei include cotton, rice, wheat, and tea, while industries include automobiles, metallurgy, machinery, power generation, textiles, foodstuffs and high-tech commodities.

Mineral resources that can be found in Hubei in significant quantities include borax, hongshiite, wollastonite, garnet, marlstone, iron, phosphorus, copper, gypsum, rutile, rock salt, gold amalgam, manganese and vanadium.

The province's recoverable reserves of coal stand at 548 million tons, which is modest compared to other Chinese provinces. Hubei is well known for its mines of fine turquoise and green faustite.

Once completed, the Three Gorges Dam in western Hubei will provide plentiful hydroelectricity, with an estimated annual power production of 84,700 Gwh.

Existing hydroelectric stations include Gezhouba, Danjiangkou, Geheyan, Hanjiang, Duhe, Huanglongtan, Bailianhe, Lushui and Fushui.

Hubei's economy ranks 11th in the country and its nominal GDP for 2011 was 1.959 trillion yuan (US$311 billion) and a per capita of 21,566 RMB (US$2,863).

The government of Hubei hopes to keep the GDP growth rate above 10% annually and double per capita GDP by 2020.

Economic and Technological Development Zones

- Hubei Jingzhou Chengnan Economic Development Zone was established in 1992 under the approval of Hubei Government.

Three major industries include textile, petroleum and chemical processing, with a combined output accounts for 90% of its total output.

The zone also enjoys a well-developed transportation network—only 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) to the airport and 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to the railway station.

- Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone is a national level high-tech development zone. Optical-electronics, telecommunications, and equipment manufacturing are the core industries of Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone (ELHTZ) while software outsourcing and electronics are also encouraged.

ELHTZ is China's largest production centre for optical-electronic products with key players like Changfei Fiber-optical Cables, the largest fiber-optical cable maker in China.

Fenghuo Telecommunications and Wuhan Research Institute of Post and Telecommunications the largest research institute in optical telecommunications in China.

Wuhan ELHTZ represents the development centre for China's laser industry with key players such as HUST Technologies and Chutian Laser being based in the zone.

- Wuhan Economic and Technological Development Zone is a national level industrial zone incorporated in 1993.

Its size is about 10-25 square km and it plans to expand to 25-50 square km. Industries encouraged in Wuhan Economic and Technological Development Zone include automobile production/assembly,biotechnology/pharmaceuticals, chemicals production and processing, food/beverage processing, heavy industry, and telecommunications equipment.

- Wuhan Export Processing Zone was established in 2000. It is located in Wuhan Economic & Technology Development Zone, planned to cover land of 2.7 km2. The first 0.7 km2 area has been launched.

- Wuhan Optical Valley (Guanggu) Software Park is in Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone. Wuhan Optics Valley Software Park is jointly developed by East Lake High-Tech Development Zone and Dalian Software Park Co., Ltd.

The planned area is 0.67 km2 with total floor area of 600,000 square meters. The zone is 8.5 km (5.28 mi) from the 316 National Highway and is 46.7 km (29.02 mi) from the Wuhan Tianhe Airport.

- Xiangyang New & Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone

Han Chinese form the dominant ethnic group in Hubei. A considerable Miao and Tujia population live in the southwestern part of the province, especially in Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture.

On October 18, 2009, Chinese officials began to relocate 330,000 residents from the Hubei and Henan provinces that will be affected by the Danjiangkou Reservoir on the Han river.

The reservoir is part of the larger South-North Water Transfer Project.

The predominant religions in Hubei are Chinese folk religions, Taoist traditions and Chinese Buddhism.

According to surveys conducted in 2007 and 2009, 6.5% of the population believes and is involved in cults of ancestors, while 0.58% of the population identifies as Christian, declining from 0.83% in 2004.

The reports didn't give figures for other types of religion; 92.92% of the population may be either irreligious or involved in worship of nature deities, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, folk religious sects.
Baotong Buddhist Temple in Wuhan.
People in Hubei speak Mandarin dialects; most of these dialects are classified as Southwestern Mandarin dialects, a group that also encompasses the Mandarin dialects of most of southwestern China.

Perhaps the most celebrated element of Hubei cuisine is the Wuchang bream, a freshwater bream that is commonly steamed.

Types of traditional Chinese opera popular in Hubei include Hanju.

The Shennongjia area is the alleged home of the Yeren, a wild undiscovered hominid that lives in the forested hills.

The people of Hubei are given the uncomplimentary nickname Nine-headed Birds by other Chinese, from a mythological creature said to be very aggressive and hard to kill.

In the sky live nine-headed birds. On the earth live Hubei people.

Wuhan is one of the major culture centers in China.

Hubei is thought to be the province that originated the card game of Dou Di Zhu.

Prior to the construction of China's national railway network, the Yangtze and Hanshui Rivers had been the main transportation arteries of Hubei for many centuries, and still continue to play an important transport role.

Historically, Hubei's overland transport network was hampered by the lack of bridges across the Yangtze River, which divides the province into northern and southern regions.

The first bridge across the Yangtze in Hubei, the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge was completed in 1957, followed by the Zhicheng Bridge in 1971.

As of October 2014, Hubei had 23 bridges and tunnels across the Yangtze River, including nine bridges and three tunnels in Wuhan.

The railway from Beijing reached Wuhan in 1905, and was later extended to Guangzhou, becoming the first north-to-south railway mainline to cross China.

A number of other lines crossed the province later on, including the Jiaozuo-Liuzhou Railway and Beijing-Kowloon Railway, respectively, in the western and eastern part of the province.

The first decade of the 21st century has seen a large number of new railway construction in Hubei.

The Wuhan–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, roughly parallel to the original Wuhan-Guangzhou line, opened in late 2009, and is currently being extended to the north, towards Beijing.

A new east-west high-speed corridor connecting major cities along the Yangtze the Huhanrong Passenger Dedicated Line is being constructed as well.

The Hefei-Wuhan section, which opened in 2009, has enabled fast service between Wuhan and Shanghai, while the Wuhan-Yuchang and Yichang-Wanzhou sections are okay.

Hubei's main airport is Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Yichang Sanxia Airport serves the Three Gorges region.

There are also passenger airports in Xiangyang, Enshi, and Jingzhou (Shashi Airport, named after the city's Shashi District).

Cities in Hubei

- Wuhan the capital spread across the Han and Yangtse Rivers

- Ezhou - a small city about an a hour away from Wuhan by train or bus, sightseeing on a small scale (hills, temples, night markets). A quiet day trip.

- Huanggang

- Jingmen

- Jingzhou

- Shiyan

- Xiangfan

- Xianning the Hot Spring city, 20 minutes by high speed train from Wuhan.

- Xiaochang

- Xiaogan

- Yichang, the gate way to Three Gorges and the location of the world's largest dam,Three Gorges Dam.

- Zhijiang

- Zhongxiang

- Enshi the gate way to the Enshi Grand Canyon and the home of the Tusi Ancient City.

Other destinations:

- Wudang Mountains Birthplace of Taichi and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hubei is a Central Chinese province. The name is derived from 'Hu' meaning lake and 'Bei' meaning North.

It is the home of many battles from the Three Kingdoms "San Guo" period of Chinese history.

Many cities still retain parts of the history of this time, such as Jingzhou which boasts a wonderfully intact city wall dating back to this time.

Hubei is also home of Yichang, site of the world famous Three Gorges Dam "San Xia Da Ba" project, which is the world's largest hydro-electric dam. This dam has effectively dammed the mighty Yangtse River "Chang Jiang".

The capital city of Hubei is Wuhan, a sprawling city made up of three separate cities separated by the Yangtse and Han rivers. Wuhan gains its name from the name of the three major parts of the city, Wuchang, Hanyang and Hankou.

Wuchang is known as the educational capital of China boasting a myriad of different Universities and Colleges. Wuchang also has a high concentration of government offices and facilities.

Hankou is famous for its commercial and shopping districts with areas such as Jianghan Rd and Jiefang Rd being the most popular places to go for shopping.

Hanyang is the industrial heart of Wuhan boasting many heavy industries including car and steel manufacture.

Wuhan is one of the notorious '3 furnaces' of China, however it easily out-steams it's rivals Nanjing and Chongqing.

During a typical summer temperatures soar above 40 degrees celcius and humidity rarely drops below 80%.

It is because of this weather that the Chinese people believe the local population have gained their fiery reputation of being loud and easily riled up.

In winter temperatures drop below 0 degrees celcius and a few of inches of snow is not uncommon occurrence.

The locals are known as "Jiu Tou Nao" or "nine headed bird" due to their talent for bending the truth. The moniker is both a source of pride and embarrassment.

Wuhan is one of the largest cities in China, however it is still developing, quite slowly, in comparison with the major centres such as Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen.

The population of Hubei like all of China has been taught to speak Beijing Standard Chinese "Putong Hua" for many years now and the ability to speak Mandarin will help you immensely.

However, like many places throughout China, many cities have developed their own particular dialect such as the capital city of Hubei's "Wuhan Hua".

Many Chinese people do not like the accent of the Wuhan locals as they say it comes across as very unelegant and rude however this is purely a matter of opinion.

Hubei also has members of many minority groups, in particular the Uighers of Xinjiang, who speak a language known as Uigher that is similar to Turkish.

Wuhan has strong foreign invest, especially French and German so many expatriates from these countries live in China, stimulating an interest in foreign languages, especially French and English.

Fortunately for Hubei the province has plenty of ESL teachers available to choose from to teach them these languages.

The province's best-known natural attraction shared with the adjacent Chongqing municipalit) is the scenic area of the Three Gorges of the Yangtze.

Located in the far west of the province, the gorges can be conveniently visited by one of the numerous tourist boats or regular passenger boats that travel up the Yangtze from Yichang through the Three Gorges and into the neighboring Chongqing municipality.

The mountains of western Hubei, in particular in Shennongjia District, offer a welcome respite from Wuhan's and Yichang's summer heat, as well as skiing opportunities in winter.

The tourist facilities in that area concentrate around Muyu in the southern part of Shennongjia, the gateway to Shennongjia National Nature Reserve.

Closer to the provincial capital, Wuhan, is the Mount Jiugong (Jiugongshan) national park, in Tongshan County near the border with Jiangxi.

A particular important site of both natural and cultural significance is Mount Wudang (Wudangshan) in the northwest of the province.

Originally created early in the Ming dynasty, its building complex has been listed by UNESCO since 1994 as a World Heritage Site.

Other historic attractions in Hubei include:

- The old Jingzhou City

- The Xianling Mausoleum, built by the Ming dynasty Jiajing Emperor for his parents at their fief near Zhongxiang

- The Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan

The Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, with extensive archaeological and cultural exhibits and performance presentations of ancient music and dance.

This is one of the best places to learn about the ancient state of Chu, which flourished in the territory of present-day Hubei during the Eastern Zhou dynasty and developed its own unique culture, quite distinct from that of the Shang/Zhou civilization of northern China.

The province also has historical sites connected with China's more recent history, such as the Wuchang Uprising Memorial in Wuhan, Project 131 site, a Cultural-Revolution-era underground military command center in Xianning, and the National Mining Park in Huangshi.

You can get into Hubei in many ways.

You can fly into Wuhan Tianhe Airport from most major cities and some international locations such as Australia.

You can also catch a bus or a train from many of the cities in China quite easily thanks to Wuhan's central location, essentially making it 'the transport hub of China'.

One of the better ways to get into Hubei is to cruise the Yangtse River, either from Chongqing further West passing through the Three Gorges Dam and it's massive 5-stage ship lock, or you can cruise in from the East.

There is a daily direct flight for AirAsia from Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia to Wuhan. The flight takes about 4 hours.

Getting around in Hubei is fairly easy. Buses go to most cities or at least through them, just let the driver know where to stop.

The same goes for getting on the bus, just put out your thumb and a bus will stop for you and tell you how much it costs to go where you want to go.

Hubei also has a decent train network, like the rest of China, however it won't go to quite so many places as the buses and often it is very busy.

Within Wuhan and many other cities in Hubei, bus is the best way to travel. The average fare is ¥1 for non-air conditioned/heated and ¥2 for air-conditioner/heater.

Given the amount of people on buses and the fact that someone will always have a window open, often it is best just to save the extra ¥1 and go the cheap option.

Taxis are also relatively unexpensive. Flagfall is ¥6 for the first 1.5km

The Yangtze River crosses through the region, offering beautiful cruise options, but the scenery past Wuhan is not as great as in the neighbouring provinces of Sichuan and Chongqing

The main tourist attractions and sights in Hubei are located along the Yangtse River.

You can see the famous Ghost City of Feng Du with it's temples and statues, the Three Gorges Dam and it's 5-Stage Ship Lock in Yichang, the impressive city wall of Jingzhou, and the famous Yellow Crane Tower "Huang He Lou" and East Lake "Dong Hu" of Wuhan.

Being in the center of China, Hubei boasts a variety of gourmet delights from every corner of the Chinese nation.

Whether it is the delicious kebabs or hand-pulled noodles "la mian" of Xinjiang in the West, the addictive pork and spring onion dumplings "jiao zi" of the North, the farmed sweet and sour "tang su" of the South or the myriad of seafood dishes of the East there is something to please everyone.

Like most food to be found in Central/Western China, the food of Hubei is liberally laden with chilli, exciting the taste buds of more adventurous gourmands.

All of the famous Chinese whacky foods can be found in Hubei, ranging from dog and cat, to snail and frog, to pig's blood and cow's stomach all the way through to the exotic stuff like BBQ scorpion kebabs.

Hubei is also famed for it's lotus root "ou" dishes, which you can get in a variety of forms from soups to french fried.

The capital city, Wuhan, also has a famous noodle dish by the name of Hot and Dry Noodles "re gan mian". This interesting dish combines the dryness of sesame paste with the heat of chillis and pickled vegetables.

Generally a breakfast staple, Hot and Dry Noodles can be found being cooked on every street of Wuhan and for around ¥1.70 it is an absolute bargain.

As has been the growing trend in China there has also been a growth in 'Western' style restaurants.

You can go and eat at a Brazil BBQ restaurant, Italian, Portuguese and French restaurants, as well as the omnipresent American fast food outlets such as Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonalds.

Hubei generally consumes the same style of beverages as the rest of China. Tea and hot water being the most popular, followed by soft drinks, beer and white wine "bai jiu".

Every kind of tea is available, as are bottled teas and coffees, soft drinks, water and juices.

One of the highlights of Hubei is the local beer, going by the name of Snow which generally comes in 500mL bottles, containes on average 3.6%alc/v and is very easy to drink chilled or not.

The going rate for a bottle is ¥2.50 with a ¥0.5 refund when you return the bottle. The cheapness and high quality of Chinese beer has been the undoing of many an overzealous foreigner.

There are also many places in which to consume these drinks. The most abundant by far are the famous Chinese discos and KTV bars which charge drinks at a minimum of a 500% markup and often times exceed 1000%.

There are a small amount of foreign bars, generally also expensive but with an environment which is catered more to foreign tastes.

In Wuhan itself there is the local institution Vox Bar which is easily the cheapest and most diverse bar in the province, with beer starting from ¥5 and hosting a variety of different live bands ranging from Beijing heavy metal to Xinjiang folk music.

The patrons of Vox come from every corner of the world, featuring strong contingencies of Africans, Arabians, Central Asians, Australian and New Zealander, American, Mexican, Canadian, Pacific Islander, Philippino, Nepalese, Europeans and of course the local Chinese.

Good places to get out to:

- Jiangxi

- Hunan

- Chongqing

- Shaanxi

- Henan

Tourism Observer
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