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Published: June 28th 2015
And the glamorous malls around the Liberation Monument.
It seemed pretty close on the map, and was supposed to be just a quick 2h high speed train ride away, but Chengdu to Chongqing took a whole lot longer than I'd anticipated. Pretty much my own fault though. First, thanks to these confusing large Chinese cities, I'd gone to the wrong train station, then when I finally got to the correct one, the tickets were sold out, so I had to opt for the slower bus ride instead. But the bus wasn't going directly to Chongqing, but rather one of the smaller towns on the outskirts. Somehow though, there was an opportunity to transfer midway through the journey to a Chongqing bound bus. And so what was supposed to be a pretty straightforward and short journey ended up taking almost the entire day.
And what about Chongqing? Well it's a massive and highly populated (20+ million) municipality that was granted special status by the central government, presumably due its commercial importance and historical significance (it was China's wartime capital during WWII, and endured massive bombing from the Japanese). Historically part of Sichuan, when it was carved out administratively it came under direct central command.
The first thing I
A river runs through it
Or in Chongqing's case, two rivers -- the Yangtze and the Jialing.
noticed though, was that it was hot, hot, hot! And it was a stifling kind of heat, almost sauna-like everywhere you go, energy-sapping and slowing your pace to a crawl outdoors. LP had warned about this but I really wondered how bad it could be, considering the agreeable weather I'd just experienced in Chengdu not far away. Well for some reason probably related to its topography, Chongqing was much hotter, almost unbearably so at times.
And this was also sort of the first time since I'd arrived in China some two weeks ago, that the crowds kinda got to me. Of course the heat didn't help, but it was here in Chongqing that the cacophonous chatter everywhere, the loud shouting and spitting, the queue-cutting and the jostling in the subway that really hit home some of the less savoury aspects of China. Also, large parts of the city are really quite unlike Chengdu or Xi-an -- it's very hilly, with rather old buildings and the stench of stale urine in the streets. In many ways it reminded me much of Hong Kong, and it kinda figures cos one of the earliest times I'd heard of the city was from
Dirty streets, grimy walls, pungent odours, a mess of overhead cables and thigh-busting inclines -- the best of the older parts of this very storied Chinese city.
a famous 90s Hong Kong movie called Chungking Express (which incidentally was filmed completely in Hong Kong, but took its title from a featured apartment building called Chungking Mansion).
I'd come to Chongqing firstly because it's a logical continuation from Chengdu in the easterly direction towards the coast that I'd planned to proceed, and also because it's the usual start point for cruises down the Yangtze River towards the Three Gorges. However, it seemed the particular fast hydrofoil that I'd been hoping to take, instead of the touristy multi-day tour cruises, was no longer running, so I'll have to figure out another way to pay a visit to the Three Gorges Dam instead.
Stayed at Yuanze Hotel.
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