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Wuhan is the capital of Hubei Province on the vast Jianghan Plain, a region that is more water than land.   Located at the confluence of the Yangtze River and its largest branch-Han River.   Wuhan covers a total area of 3,240 square miles with a population of 7.3 million.   Populations of these places in China is amazing!

The city has a history of 3500 years and once was the center of "Chu" culture.   Being an open port as early as in 1885 after the Opium War, Wuhan has since attracted many western banks and other commercial companies to set up their branches offices here.   It used to be the second most important port after Shanghai and famed as the "Chicago in the Orient".   Wuhan was also the place the republican revolutionary uprising started and destroyed the rule of the Last Emperor's Manchu Court in 1911.

Water levels were somewhat high.   Sadly, there were many who live on the river that when the water rises they start getting into trouble.   I don't pretend to understand why these people must live so near the river but that is their choice, in every country.  

Then there are those who do not have to worry about the river rising and have found a nice life in a condominium.   Very nice architecture.   Had to get a photograph of this advertisement for the more sanitary western toilet.   This was a huge billboard.

Our destination today is the Hubei Provincial History Museum was established in 1953.   The Museum has a collection of 7,000 articles from the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng excavated in 1978 not far away from here.   Items include bronze ritual vessels and weapons, bamboo, lacquer, musical instruments, gold, and jade.

Most important in this find was a complete set of 65 ritual bells of different sizes.   When struck, they emit a perfect 122-tone system covering five octaves.   Each bell has the ability to create two tones, depending where it is struck.   The bells were a gift from the king of Chu. The heaviest is 446 pounds and 4.6 feet high.   These ritual bells were only played for ceremonies, not for pleasure.   Today, reproductions of the bells are used to play the simple Jingle Bells and ancient Chinese music and Beethoven's “Ode to Joy”.

Outside the performance theater, was a museum of ancient artifacts.   For the most part all the pieces were bronze castings.   The “ding pot”, large jars, pieces of unknown use, flat musical pieces that sound like bells when struck and the beautiful peacock.

We had quite a bit of time to look around in the museum building and do a little shopping.   But when we arrived at where the busses were parked, our bus was gone.   Arnold left us!   There was another bus there for at least one other group so I asked their guide if we could ride back with them.   He made a call to Arnold to tell him that we were there and then he took us to a van that was carrying a filming crew.   Well, we arrived at the boat and Arnold with a red face was at the van door waiting for us.   Sort of funny, but nevertheless......   Back at our boat, the river level had receded slightly.   Our boat shown here is really quite large.

After lunch we were given time to go back into the city just to walk around and go to the largest Walmart in China, like we really needed to go to a Walmart.   A small group of us with a guide set out for town.   We were given general directions with a map that turned out to be inaccurate and the group split, the guide going with the others.   Also this was an opportunity to go to a bank and exchange money for future purchases.   We came to the financial area and a couple of us went into the banks while the wives, including Mieko, continued on to Walmart.   The time spent in the bank was agonizingly long.   I got the impression that they really didn't know what they were doing.   With Chinese money finally in hand I left to see if I could find the others and that was when I found the other passenger who was also lost.   Finally, we found Walmart but not Mieko and the other ladies.   Coming out of the store, the wife of the other "lost" passenger found me to tell where Mieko was.   Mieko had been overcome with heat, boy it was hot, and was about to collapse coming very very close to a heat stroke.   She was helped to a sidewalk concession stand where she was given cold water and a seat in the shade.   We went together back into Walmart and found nothing that was must have.   We did find some plain everyday tee-shirts, the cheapest was 9.99 yaun.   That is only 1.34 US dollars!   Looking around more, we found a much better quality shirt for 19.99 yaun, 2.67 US dollars.   We took a taxi back to the boat rather than risk a full heat stroke before we got on the air conditioned boat.   I was a trying day, particularly for Mieko.

Oh, the Walmart?   It is a four story department store with escalators.   Food and groceries on the first floor, a floor for clothing, home furnishings and another for electronics.

Scenes as we journeyed upstream.  Large multi-story buildings most like condominiums.   Some bridges constructed years ago and bridges which seem to be the standard design for today.   Probably the container barge is taking to Shanghai goods destined for the United States.

Tomorrow — Yueyang