Earth : Asia : East Asia : China : South-central China : Hubei
Hubei is a Central Chinese province. The name is comprised of two characters: '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 Nanjing and Chongqing. During a typical summer temperatures soar above 40 degrees Celsius 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 Celsius and accumulations of snow is not uncommon.
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.
You can enter Hubei 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 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.