Wuhan page 1 of Carter's China Trip
We were very happy our hosts
were there to get us through the station in Guangzhou.
It was classic movie fare—crowds pushing against barricades trying to
get through. Professor Guobin Chi
spoke to the right person and we were let through while those not in our group
were pushed back. We hurried,
then waited, then we went down a hallway by ourselves and soon emerged along a
red, white and blue train. We
were not all in the same car.
This was called a hard sleeper
train. We did not have private
compartments but slots with six bunks—three high with a walkway between.
Mike and I had the lower bunks (we probably paid more).
Each bunk had a blanket and a pillow.
You crawled under the blanket to take off your pants.
In the middle bunks above were
a young couple traveling back to their home area to get married.
With a great amount of effort we had a conversation in English.
(I certainly gained an appreciation for the fact that I speak English
but it is embarrassing that I could not speak his language.)
He was an engineer and she worked in the factory.
He had 20 days of vacation and got another 10 days to get married. It was going to take them more than two days to get home via
Of course there was hot water
on the train. The toilet in our
car was not western, but it did the job.
Many of the Chinese passengers brought dehydrated noodle dishes and
fixed them by pouring hot water into the container.
My dinner that night was a tray of goodies wrapped in cellophane. I ate selectively but it was adequate. We got to see some countryside that evening before it got
dark. We passed through some low
mountains. At 10:20 they turned
the lights out on the train.
Friday started at 5:20 when they turned the lights on. We got off the train in Wuhan at about 6:00 and were met with colleagues from Wuhan University. I piled into a rather luxurious Toyota van with leather seats. They took us to the Lake View Garden Hotel where we got to eat breakfast and wash up. The lobby of this hotel was quite impressive. I tried out a chair appropriate to my rank. Two of our hosts waited for us under an intricately carved wall. The sleeping room was not so luxurious.
I shared a room with Pedro Martinez from Cuba.
Here was my opportunity to practice Spanish.
Pedro was not used to speaking English and it had been years since I
spoke Spanish. But, we did fairly
well. It was more a matter of
phrases and words than complete sentences.
We had a breakfast buffet at
the hotel that was mostly western, but it was good.
Of course there was watermelon. At
9:00 we are off for a visit to Wuhan University.
It was here that I saw the first traffic light with a display of
numbers counting down the seconds until the light would change to green.
Wuhan University is a quality
university with a large program in the surveying and mapping sciences.
I had corresponded with colleagues from this University through the Map
Use Commission. There are four
campuses produced through a recent consolidation of area universities.
Here we learned that the
faculty and staff live in university apartments.
The higher your rank and the more senior you are, the larger your
apartment. Faculty members are
not well compensated in China.
If you have enough money I believe you can buy your own apartment. I never full comprehended how housing is allocated and who can live where. Suffice it to say, it is not the American system with people living anywhere they want and then driving to work every day. You don’t see much space devoted to parking lots. This is another measure of how much less energy they consume and how we are locked into a system requiring that everyone have an automobile.
At the University we had presentations on the software they have created. The prime product is GeoStar. This looks a lot like the popular ESRI software, ArcView and Arc/Info. Their package competes with the ESRI products but GeoStar is not a rip-off of the other packages. Although I slept well on the train, I got hit with a wave of sleepiness this morning. This seems to have been my only jet lag problem and it came days after I got to China.