Taizhou got a shock from its most famous native son yesterday when the outgoing president, Hu Jintao, made his first visit in more than three decades to the city where he was born and raised.
Hu's trip to the city in Jiangsu province had still not been reported by state media last night, but that did not prevent residents from expressing their surprise at the presidential visit on microblogs.
"Oh my God! Old Hu is really coming home!" one Tencent user wrote, using a term of endearment for the leader.
The internet user posted a photograph of Hu waving from a minibus window and another showing a crowd outside a guest house with a banner that read: "Welcome President Hu."
"A woman who waited in the rain for hours to see Hu told me she 'felt so happy and excited' when she finally saw Big Brother Tao," wrote another microblogger, using a nickname for Hu.
"I think all her words were from the bottom of her heart, as her eyes were swimming with tears when she spoke."
Hu has gone much of his official career without visiting Taizhou, last returning for his father's funeral in 1978. His mother, Li Wenrui , died in 1949, when Hu was seven years old.
Last month Hu handed leadership of the Communist Party to Vice-President Xi Jinping , who will succeed him as president in March.
The low-key trip to Taizhou was only Hu's second public appearance since the change of power at the 18th party congress. Earlier this month, he visited Zunyi, Guizhou province, a "red" tourist destination where Mao Zedong was made party leader.
An itinerary posted on the internet yesterday indicated that Hu visited his alma mater, Taizhou Secondary School, and planted a gingko tree in the schoolyard.
Some residents complained that Hu's visit had caused traffic problems, a reference to the Politburo's recent call for less restrictive traffic controls during official visits.
"Why do we need to send up to eight minibuses to accompany Hu's visit?" one internet user said.