Transportation and Geographic Position
Hubei Province is located on the middle reaches of Yangtze River in central China. It’s endowed with a favorable geographic position to connect the east with the west and the north with the south. Arterial railways including Beijing-Guangzhou line, Jiaozuo-Liuzhou line, Beijing-Kowloon line and Wuhan-Chongqing line all run across the province. This railway networks links the big and mid-sized provincial cities in Hubei with all important cities in China. The metropolis Wuhan city has a reputation as the linking point of nine provinces. As an aeronautic port, it plays a very important role in the aeronautic network of China. Yangtze River which runs across the whole province and directly goes into the sea links Hubei Province with cities along the river closely. The eight national road and two national arterial roads, which all go through the provincial boundary, make Hubei Province an important point in the national road network. The roads for western exploitation, Shanghai-Chengdu highway and the road network to all directions make Hubei the pioneering province for western exploitation.
The capital of Hubei Province is Wuhan. It is also known as “River City” because it lies at the confluence of Yangtze River and Hanshui River. The great poet in Tang Dynasty, Libai, wrote a poem named Appreciating the flute played on the Yellow Crane Tower with Mr.Shi. In this poem, he wrote, “in the Yellow Crane Tower, I hear the flute played; in the May of this River City, I see plum blossoms fall.” Here “River City” means Wuchang but later refers to Wuhan. Wuhan has the typical landscape of Jianghan Plain with a distinct seasonal climate. There are over 100 lakes and a lot of mountains in Wuhan, which is rarely seen in other big cities. As it is the cradle of ancient Jingchu Culture, it has typical features of Chu Culture in its scenic spots. It is one of the celebrated historical and cultural cities of China. Wuhan is always termed as “the three towns of Wuhan city”. They actually refer to Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang, which are separated by Yangtze River and Hanshui River. Historically, Wuhan is called the Oriental Chicago. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Japanese Consul Kono Sashiyozi appointed to Wuhan wrote in his book Hankou that Hankou is the second important port in China and is called the Oriental Chicago by the visitors. In 1918, the American magazine Harp published an article Chicago of China written by Well Walt. It says, Hankou can rival Chicago of American in terms of its positions in the national merchandise market.
Tourism and Humanities
Hubei province is rich in tourist resources, including natural landscape, cultural relics and historical sites. There exists ruins of ancient Changyang people, Qu Jialin, and the ancient Three Kingdoms, and the Chu capital---Jinan City, besides, the ruins of the Revolution of 1911---Uprising Gate, Reviewing Troops Square, the Central Government’s Institute for Peasant’s Movement, the meeting place for the August, 7th Meeting, and many other cultural relics as well as historical sites are scattered all over the province. What’s more, the magnificent world-famous project of Three Gorges, 72 great mountains, 24 rivers and the so-called First Mountain, Wudangshan, the holy mountain of the Taoism can also be found in this province.
The masterpiece Yellow Crane Tower is one of the three famous towers in Chinese history. It is located by the ten-thousand-li long Yangtze River, on the top of Snake Mountain, pretty and magnificent. Standing on the tower and looking down, you may be awed by its tremendous momentum and understand the fine reputation Best Science in the World and First Tower of River and Mountain. Historical records show that the tower was first built in the period of Three Kingdoms. For over 1,700 years, it has been destroyed and rebuilt for many times. Only within two dynasties of Ming and Qing, it was destroyed 7 times, rebuilt and repaired 10 times, thus there is a saying, “The more prosperous the nation is, the more thriving the tower is.”
In Hubei---this enormous Jianghan Plain, 28 historical places of interest are well known around the whole world, on which countless romantic stories and historical experiences are left.
Gulongzhou is famous for Master Zhuge Liang. Here, he once worked in the fields; here, he once composed poems; here, he once met those talented; and here, he once sang high of Liangfu. Everywhere in the woods and hills spread his traces.
The ancient Jingzhou is one of the cities where the ancient walls are comparatively well-kept in China. It is the only complete ancient city wall in the area around the middle reaches of Yangtze River and enjoys a high reputation home and abroad.
The Red Cliffside in Puqi is famous for a historic story. During the period of Three Kingdoms, Zhouyu, a distinguished military commander of Dongwu, had beaten Caocao in the city, where the well-known Red Cliffside War took place. Historians call it Red Cliffside of Zhou Sir.
Wudang Mountain is a world-famous mountain since long. It rollingly runs along 400 miles to Qinlin in the north and Bashan Mountain in the south. Early in Tang Dynasty during Zheng Guan period 1300 years ago, Wulong Temple was built on Wudang Mountain. It advocated Taoism and worship God named Xuantian Zhenwu. Later on, the number of Taoist temples increased a lot and thus Wudang Mountain gradually became a famous mountain for Taoism.
Culture and Arts
Hubei Province is not only rich in natural resources, but also in arts. Han Opera and Chu Opera are the most distinctive and local operas in Hubei. With a history of 300 years, Han Opera is usually lyric and has a full range of roles. Chu Opera uses simple wording with a rustic style. Besides Huangmei Opera of picking tea, dating back to the turn of Ming Dynasty, has a rather wide influence. The art of singing and telling, which includes Hubei Dagu, Hubei Pingshu, Hanchuan Shanshu, is ample and colorful and enjoys a fame home and abroad.
The opera accompanied by a Yugu (a kind of drum)
Daoqing (chanting folk tales) with Yugu (a percussion instrument made of bamboo) accompaniment is the distinctive art of singing and telling in Hanjiang Distinct. This area is not only the hometown of Yangchun & Baixue (the names of two songs), but also the cradle of Shichengle and Mochoule (names of songs). The word Daoqing was first used in Southern Song Dynasty. In Yuan Dynasty, its form was gradually settled. Based on the Taoism stories, Daoqing was then able to be sung alone as well as to be used in the dramas of Yuan Dynasty, Yueyang Tower, Zhuyezhou, etc. Because it is accompanied by Yugu, Daoqing is also named Yugu or Daoqing with Yugu.
People’s Plaza is the biggest comprehensive entertaining center. It is located in the downtown of Liuduqiao District on Zhongshan Road in Hankou. Set up in 1919, it was then well-known as Hankou New Market, both in China and in foreign countries. Actually, it enjoyed the same as Big World in Shanghai and Quanye Market in Tianjing. There used to be places for Han Opera, Beijing Opera, New Theatre, Kunban (women’s Beijing Opera), Dabaixian Opera (puppet opera), films and mobile performances. A number of artistic teams and famous actors home and abroad used to put performances here. The first-class actor Yu Hongyuan of Han Opera performed on the stage for two years. Later, Beijing Opera actors came continuously, making People’s Plaza an important place for Bejing Opera. By 1935, nearly all the noted actors of Beijing Opera had gathered here amd had put on various and colorful performances.
Hubei is one of the birthplaces of Chinese and its ancient culture. In ancient Chu culture, the food style is mainly fresh and salty, which can date back to the ages of Qu Yuan. Porridge and soup were mostly favored. As the saying goes, “Drinking soup before meal each day keeps the doctor away.” It has exerted great influence up to now. Besides, there are a lot of choices, such as in Sijimei Restaurant, steamed bun with gravy stuffing in Sijimei Restaurant, Soup in Xiaotaoyuan Restaurant, hot and dry noodles in Cailinji Restaurant, Dumpling in Tanyanji Restaurant, Shaomei in Shuixiangju Restaurant, Tangyuan in Wufangzhai Restaurant, Steamed Wuchang Fish in Wuchang Restaurant, and so on. The most famous were hot and dry noodles.
The word Guozao (meaning having breakfast outdoors) first appeared in the book Hankou Zhuzhi Ci during the Daoguang Period of Qing Dynasty. It refers to Wuhan people’s having breakfast. Because of geographical environment and economic activities, people in Wuhan got used to the custom of Guozao outdoors a long time ago. The restaurants in Wuhan are highly developed, of various kinds, and of styles of both north and south. They are scattered in many streets all over the city, prosperous and crowded. According to statistiques, as many as 100, 1000 people are engaged in the business. Guozao has been in the noticeable characteristic in this city.
The birth of hot and dry noodles bears an interesting story. It came into being as an occasion. About 7100 years ago, a certain food vendor named Li, who lived near Guanti Temple, in Changti Street, Hankou, was engaged in selling cool rice noodles and soup noodles. He had a tumor on his neck, so he got the nickname Libao (“bao” refers to tumor). One summer, he went back home with a lot of noodles unsold. He boiled the noodles and put them on the board to prevent them from getting spoiled. However, carelessly he split the sesame oil on the noodles. He was depressed, but soon he got an idea and mixed the noodles with oil and then cooled them. The next day, he warmed the noodles in hot water and put some spices in them, then sold them to the customers. Someone asked: what are they? Libao answered without hesitation, hot and dry noodles. That day the noodles were sold unexpectedly fast, thus a new species of food came into being.