A Little Light SYPing
Among the greatest gifts I’ve received from becoming a Su Youpeng fan is the friendship of other fans throughout the world. Language barriers seem to be no problem within this family, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many delightful, friendly, and generous people during these past five years. When I learned that I would have a long layover in Hong Kong before arriving in Wuhan, I didn’t hesitate to contact the Hong Kong fans I’d met last November, to see if anybody was able to join me for a short excursion. Five lovely ladies met me at the airport, Lok (a long-time SYP supporter and guiding force in the HK fan base) immediately handing me a DVD of one of You Peng’s most recent films, A Singing Fairy. I brought some photos to share with them, and we all spent a lovely day visiting the Po Lin Buddha and Tai O fishing village.
Well, there weren’t any huge billboards (as I found in Kunming last autumn) in Wuhan, but every day on my way to class, I walked past some small stores near the hotel, including a copy shop with a poster in the window promoting one of You Peng’s charity efforts, providing backpacks with school supplies for deserving students. Book and even DVD/CD stores were surprisingly scarce, at least in our part of the city, and the only item I was able to pick up in the Ocean Mall (center of social activities for HUST students, not to mention evening ballroom dance lessons on the sidewalks) was a 2-disc Xiao Hu Dui CD package (some sort of “best of” compilation, and likely a bootleg). Of course I bought a copy.
Through a friend in Beijing, I was able to get a phone number for the leader of the Wuhan support group, Fang Ying, who doesn’t speak any English. So, after a week of teaching and working with my fabulous HUST TA Cathy, I felt we’d bonded well enough for me to explain about my strange secret fan life and ask her help in making contact. (Her reaction was amusing: “Eleanor, you always surprise me!”) We arranged to meet for dinner on Sunday in Hankou, and Cathy offered to show me around this popular historical and shopping area (Wuhan’s version of the Shanghai Bund). It was a delightful day: we took a taxi (our driver was quite interested in politics and very vocal!) to the Wubuhang “breakfast street” and had a snack, then took a ferry across the Yangtze to Hankou, and spent the afternoon wandering along Jianghan Road, a pedestrian shopping street sprinkled with sculptures and several buildings of European-style architecture dating from the 1920s-30s.
I bought a large shoulder bag (for carrying stuff to and from class), and we poked our heads into the lobby of one of the 1930s-era hotels (very posh!), and then walked down to the river bank, where we had some cool drinks and watched the boat traffic (and a few intrepid swimmers cooling off from the heat). Around 5:30 we met Fang Ying in front of one of the shopping malls, and found that several more members of the Wuhan support group would join us for hot pot. Finding a restaurant with enough space took a while, but eventually we got ourselves a private room and a ton of food to cook and share.
Typically for SYP fans, this was a friendly and lively group, chattering happily as we walked and ate. I had a couple of leftover 2010 calendars I presented as small gifts, as well as my “ming piao” (calling card) and a copy of the English version of Alec’s autobiography. This seems to be a coveted item among the Chinese fans (I’m doubtful if it’s inspired them to learn English, but one can hope!)
After our stay on top of Huangshan, we had some time to kill between dinner and our flight to Shanghai, so we explored a nearby “ancient shopping street” area. The “ancient” part catered to tourists with several blocks of stores selling scroll paintings and calligraphy materials. Further along were more modern souvenirs, clothing stores, etc. It was quite busy, largely tourists down from the mountain (many Westerners) strolling about on this warm evening. I didn’t buy anything but a poster inside the (closed) post office caught my eye.... When we finally returned to the airport after our brief hotel nap during the thunderstorm flight delay, I was in the escalator on the way to our gate and heard some very familiar music coming from several TV monitors in the departure waiting area. There were the Little Tigers during the 2010 Lantern Festival, where, as one of the most popular Spring Festival acts, they sang “Bright Starlight” and were awarded the "most popular singing act" accolade for their reunion performance during the Spring Festival. I stayed glued to the TV for this lovely treat, needless to say! (Here's a link to the Lantern Festival performance.)
We had limited time in Shanghai (especially with the 4 am delayed arrival), but I was determined to find the issue of Top Travel magazine that proved so elusive in Wuhan. Between lunch and our late afternoon visit to the Expo, I took a walk around the neighborhood looking for beer and news stands and was successful in both quests. (The guy at the first stand would only sell me one copy of the isssue, so I had to grab a few extras the next day near the museum.) So, here’s my very small SYP stash from this China visit.
Alec Su in Wuhan (2005)
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