I first heard of Tan Hua Lin in a blip of an article talking about cute, local coffee shops in Wuhan. If I remember correctly, the author described Tan Hua Lin as a “bohemian, artists’ street” and it was immediately clear I would be making my way there at some point during this trip.
After breakfast while lounging around the room, I realized this was our only true free weekend in Wuhan, so Tate and I decided it was time to head out of our little Hilton home-away-from-home and see the city.
Phones are a fickle thing over here, seeing as how most social media sites and Google are banned in China, you must have a VPN app to access any of these. But as we’re learning, when you’re on VPN, the Maps we’re all so used to using on iPhones will not show anything around you. I am not sure what the reasoning is behind this, but it often means we Google things to do on one of our personal phones and then Tate has to use his work phone to find out where they’re actually at. Since many areas of town are simply labelled with traditional Chinese characters we had the concierge confirm where to tell the DiDi to drop us off, and then headed on our way.
A few short steps out of the car and I was already in love. There was a little shop where you could buy an ornament and write your well wishes, dreams or proclamations then hang them on the exterior. It was a colorful little wall of hope and love.
As we began to wander down the street it was evident I had found my happy place. It reminded me a lot of our time in Hoi An when we went to Vietnam a few years ago. From adorable storefronts, to even cuter trinkets being sold I was immediately kicking myself for not hitting up an ATM. (Credit cards are practically useless here in China. The entire country uses an app called WeChat to pay for everything simply by scanning QR codes. Unfortunately, Americans cannot create a payment profile on WeChat or AliPay so we’re stuck using cash all the time)
After fawning over some very lazy kitties in the windows of the handful of cat cafes, we settled into the patio of a coffee shop called “On The Road” and enjoyed an afternoon pick me up.
Budweiser has apparently won some popularity contest over here, as you find Bud Diesel on nearly every menu. I opted for a coffee myself.
We found the neatest shop full of locally made handicrafts (pottery, textiles, carved items) that I’m already planning on heading back to at some point this month. Not to mention a jewelry shop where I fell in love with a beaded bracelet adorned with turquoise and pearls. I made a mental note to learn how to ask how much something is. We get by pretty well between pointing, pantomiming, and using a few translation apps on our phone but still nearly every interaction is a challenge.
I’m not sure the status of pets around here, but after seeing a handful of well pampered pups perusing the streets I’m led to believe that, even though collarless, they do actually have owners and aren’t just stray. This little guy reminded me a lot of Russell, and him and his compadre gave me a good laugh as they made a hot lap around the block then proceeded right back down the alley they came from.
Even though we left TanHuaLin empty handed this time, I look forward to heading back to the little quiet, artsy escape from the hustle bustle of this huge city a time or two more.