City on the Yangtze

Chongqing Travel Blog

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Melissa going for long life by touching the Dragon's Pearl, Kunming
Started the day with a trip out to the Western Hills, also known as Sleeping Beauty Hills, which lie to the south of the city centre.  We thought the driver had got lost because we seemed to be driving all over the place, but there is so much road construction going on that drivers have to drive the wrong way for quite a while before they turn around to head back the right way because the junctions are still being built.  Spied a beautiful scene as we drove out, an incredible sculpture of galloping white horses perched on the top of one of the hills - we could see it looming from miles away so up close it must be massive.  We took a cable car across the hills to the entrance to the Dragons Gate, a templed carved into the side of the cliff - also touched the Dragon's Pearl for long life.
Sword dancers in the People's Square, Chongqing - no discrimination between young and old, everybody gets involved.
  The cable car was lovely and smooth and quiet so the 15 minute trip was quite a nice respite from the normal noise we'd become used to (apart from the one chap heading the other way with his radio blaring full power - ah, the serenity!).  We walked back to the coach park along the side of the hill through various other temples and deities carved into the rock, and along a road lined with market stalls.  Very funny experience with our local guide at lunchtime.  We had lunch near the airport at a local restaurant and were then told to get on the bus for a trip to the famous flower market.  We all piled onto the bus, which then proceeded to take 5 minutes to get out of the car park, drive 20 seconds and drop us off behind the restaurant at the flower market!  We wouldn't have driven more than 100 metres and if we'd walked we could have just zipped through the fence and walked about 25 metres!  Apparently "walking would have been a waste of our time"!  This particular local guide left quite a bit to be desired and we think even she realised she looked pretty silly after this escapade.  Kept us laughing for the whole afternoon, though.  The flower market was beautiful, though, glorious colours and huge bunches of blooms - you could buy 18 long stemmed red roses for the equivalent of A50 cents!  Next door was a big warehouse selling local products, including coffee, which is apparently one of the major exports of Yunnan Province. 
Our flight to Chongqing was delayed about 1 1/2 hours due to the late arrival of our plane and then having to have some cargo off-loaded because the plane was too heavy.  After dinner in Chongqing, we went for a walk around our hotel and realised we were smack bang in the middle of a red light district - very strange to be in a culture that does not appear to have any qualms about obvious prostitution, the brothels are very obvious with the girls lying around on couches just off the street.  It's certainly quite different to home.  Even found a cross-stitch and tapestry shop - very cheap compared to Australia, but Melissa's got plenty to do at home if she gets bored!
Chongqing is a very attractive city, lots of trees and parks and seems to be quite well laid out.  It has a population of 30 million people, so one of the largest cities in the world.  Most of the Yangtze river cruises depart from here, although the river does not seem very big.  A lot of reinforcement works are being done for the completion of the Three Gorges Dam project, which will stabilise the river level through Chongqing and prevent the problem of flooding.  Also has quite a big problem with "fog" - to an extent some of this is actually natural because of the mountainous position, but most of it is the never-ending pollution.  The city has always been the final destination for trade from the east coast and is the chief industrial centre of south-western China.  Chongqing is also known as one of the "three furnaces of China" (along with Wuhan and Nanjing) due to the intense summer heat.
We had a quick look at the Peoples Hall and Square and enjoyed watching the locals dancing, practising tai chi and kung fu.  There was a children's martial arts class, showing just how disciplined these kids can be.  If they made a mistake they got a kick up the pants from the instructor and had to squat-jump up the big steps at the end of the park - a bit tougher than aussie kids are used to!  Drove to the Flying Dragons Museum, in honour of the American volunteer pilots who helped protect Chongqing during World War II.  This museum only opened a few years ago, no doubt because during Mao's time it would not have done to admit that the Western capitalists had been instrumental in protecting China from the Japanese army.  Walked down the street to the General Stillwell Museum, which honours another American instrumental in Chongqing's recent history.  It's quite an austere, typical 1940's government building but houses lots of interesting photos and old furniture.  Then had a wander through E'Lin Park for a view over the city.  The park was glorious and leafy and would be a real haven during the hot summer (temperatures of 40c plus are quite common).  Lots of dancers and singers about - and they all have to try and drown out each other with megaphones and amplifiers so not very peaceful!  A guide took us through the exhibition about the Dam Project, which includes a 50 metre long panorama painded by a famous local artist.
sylviandavid says:
Megaphones are a huge problem for peace... and they are very common in China.... :(
Posted on: Feb 12, 2008
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Melissa going for long life by tou…
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Sword dancers in the Peoples Squa…
Sword dancers in the People's Squ…
Chongqing
photo by: FK27