Tag Archive: Chongqing

Having arrived in Chongqing we stopped for a couple of days at the Yangtze River International Youth Hostel. We saw the new and burgeoning city centre juxtaposed to the old “high rises”. It’s urban area is 6/7 million people but the municipality has population of 28,846,200 people.File:Chongqing in China (+all claims hatched).svg
Getting lost in in the city, we found ourselves at one stage in the midst of a high rise complex teeming with people. It felt rather intimidating but at no stage did one feel threatened. There were also very large branches of the higher end retail outlet also in evidence,Louis Vitton, Versace, Gucci et al were all in evidence.
We needed to get to Chengdu as that was were the Giant Panda were being nurtured and bred.

.Giant Pandas in Wolong National Nature ReservePandas are so cute but rather lazy and stupid.They basically just eat and sleep all the time. We saw them up in trees just zonked after eating and just draped over branches and sleeping.They are too lazy to procreate, so a lot of the work done at the sanctuary involves artificial insemination which is a real hit and miss affair. The species, left to itself would have almost certainly died out had it not been for the intervention of the authorities.

The boat was an old Chinese one that had self evidently seen some sterling service throughout its long life. Hopefully it would carry on in the same vein for our passage to Chongqing. She slipped her moorings and eased out into the current,increasing the melismatic throb of her engines,as she drove powerfully against the flow.  Soon the lights of the harbour and Yichang slipped further from view as the night drew in, so we came in from the deck and got  settled in our cabin. Sleep beckoned with the throb and vibration of the “Dragons” diesel engines.
Slept soundly and woke to find a grey day. Went on deck and saw that lynn had gathered a few of the chinese passengers around her, apparently much taken with the colour of her hair and what she happened to be reading, also intrigued as to  what age she was (age is venerated in China). However,there is no such thing as “personal space” in China so the group was tightly woven, and all seemingly happy to converse in sign language. and ooooooo’s and aaaaaaa’s.
The time slipped by and the landscape changed from industrial to agrarian back to industrial and then a bucolic country idyll.All too soon we arrived in Chongqing.A city in flux as highly post modern architecture begins to sublimate the hitherto,heavily influenced communist blandness populated with huge high rise apartment blocks built with unambitious utilitarian precepts.

Other than the Panda Sanctuary there is little else to recommend to see in Chegdu. It is a pleasant enough place with a pleasant promenade along the Jin river. However, a little anecdote here might amuse. Whilst here we needed to access some Vietnamese Dong. Of course one goes to a bank….surprise surprise, we asked the teller if we could have some Dong….”no” they had no Dong….We asked could we have Dollars, “no” they couldn’t give us Dollars. As we were about to leave, the teller spoke to another bank official in a suit who spoke english and said,” just wait a minute and I’ll make a call.” We looked at each other, thinking “what the dickens is going on”? Moments later a man drove up in a car and walked into this swish bank foyer, opened a rather nice leather business case in which there was wadges of cash. Having established how much “in dollars” (still no dong)” we needed, he proceeded to swiftly count out (at the speed of light)(186,400 mps in case you’re interested) the requisite amount. We left the bank bemused and in stunned silence.
In order to get to the Yangste river ferry we had to make it over to Yichang in Hubei province. After a fourteen hour train journey we checked into the Boha Art Hotel in Yichang. It’s the second largest city after Wuhan which is the capital of the province. The Three Gorges Dam is here, naturally we went up to view it. It was the biggest project going on in the world at the time of its construction.

After spending the day walking around it and it’s environs we went back to Yichang to spend the night only to return again the following evening to catch the ferry. Prior to boarding the following evening we were treated to a theatre show which was an artistic representation of the peoples struggle with the Yangste over time. The Yangste , culpable for the killing many people during times of flood, so the small communities dotted along its shores had stories to tell. What stunned us was not so much the show, but the complete lack of “good grace” on the part of the audience”. They were chatting animatedly  between themselves whilst stuffing all manner of things down their throats and even making phone calls to their kith and kin at much elevated volume which undermined any sense of respect for the players and the story line that was going on in front of them on the stage.

Asian Time

Although the damn project displaced many thousands of people causing the opprobrium of the west, it has provided much needed power to all those communities remaining with the added bonus of stopping the perennial flooding and facilitating controlled irrigation for those farmers that are left.
We had booked a four day trip back “up river” to Chongqing.

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