WOW Member Feature : PANIDA GRINNEBACK
Everyone knows Panida (or ought to). Her complete dedication to the group since her arrival in Wuhan two and a half years ago has been rock solid that one can’t help but say, ‘WOW!’. This scuba diving enthusiast with origins from New Zealand and Thailand juggles her time between managing WOW events/website and honing her passion for photography, growing herbs, reading and being a foodie. Take a sneak peek inside this woman’s colorful life in her adopted home of Wuhan and learn from her adventures. WOW couldn’t have chosen anyone better to kick-off the Woman of Wuhan Monthly Feature, a new series geared to give readers an appreciation of Wuhan life through her eyes.
Enjoy the read and ‘til next month!
What was your first impression of the city? It was winter. Everything was very dusty, bleak and the apartment was an icebox. But since I had just recently travelled from India – I thought it was fantastically structured and clean! I remember thinking as we left the airport – “Oh no – here we are catching a taxi from the International Airport – and the taxi driver doesn’t speak a word of English. I’m in trouble!” The next 6 months I spent many hours studying Chinese.
What do you love about Wuhan? Creative driving techniques. Wet markets. Club activities in the parks. The fact that nobody really cares and people seem to do anything and everything. This of course has serious safety issues – but it is also rather liberating.
What could the city improve on? Pavements.
If your best friend had only one afternoon to visit, where would you take her? I’d start at Hubuxiang (Breakfast Alley) – testing out the local street foods and letting her freak out and take pics of all the weird food stuff. Then walk across the road and meander the backstreets towards Tanhualin – pointing out the famous heaven-made Yellow Crane Tower in the background. Next- grab a coffee, cocktail or beer at Soul House then walk along Tanhualin to see if any new artsy cafes have opened… maybe taking another cold drink if we can fit it in. Then, if still have energy, walk up Yanzhi Lu to the fabric market and peruse the seasons’ materials before grabbing a taxi home.
Cite an experience which made you say to yourself—Only in Wuhan… There are just so many! A mother holding her son over the rubbish bin to pee. The taxi driver taking a short cut up the pavement. Roundabouts with traffic lights. People spitting onto the floor – in a supermarket! And on the other hand you have locals opening up their houses for us to come in, look around and take photos.
Either a local feast of all our favorite dishes – sorry haven’t really learnt all their names – but including suan la tudousi (sour & salty shredded potato), mapo doufu (spicy tofu dish), fish-fragrant eggplant,….or if our bellies were up to it – Hot Pot!
Name your favorite outdoor spot with your partner or husband. Mmmm – that’s a tricky one. We are kind of creatures of habit, and often don’t go too far from home when we have time off together. Our most frequented place is probably just hanging out at Eliville in Wuhan Tiandi or across the road in the Riverside Park. If we do have more than 2 days off then we love going with our friend Yang of CECP to explore the countryside.
What phrase or sentence in Mandarin do you catch yourself saying constantly? Unfortunately it has to be “yi bei caramel latte – re de”(one caramel latte –hot) – followed closely by “yi zhi wang qian zou” (go straight ahead) and naturally “ting bu dong”.
What is your favorite Chinese Festival? I think it would have to be Qingming (Tomb Sweeping Festival). I guess it’s because it’s just at the end of winter, and I can almost convince myself it’s getting warmer. During both our Qingming holidays here we have traveled within China – once to Nanjing by train, and once a road trip to Anhui. Both trips were wonderful and travelling through the countryside it was fascinating to see the decorations at the tombs and the yellow rape seed plants brightening up the fields. It’s a beautiful time of the year to travel.
Living in Wuhan has made me ——- a Wowcoholic!! Yes – totally. But apart from that living here has shown me that there is more to Chinese food than chicken chow mein and sweet and sour pork – in fact – I don’t think I have ever even seen them on a local menu! I never really had a good understanding of China as a country, nor of Chinese as a people before living and travelling around China – and now I think I do. And for that, I am very grateful that we were based in Wuhan.