Friday, May 20, 2011

We Visited China - Chongqing

Chongqing - 17 April 2011

Mr Gullit received us at the airport, a handsome young man in his late thirties, married and father of one daughter. His Chinese name was HU (Over cooked) or (Mah-jong). Some Chinese people who emigrate to, or do business with Western countries sometimes adopt a Westernized name. In his case he liked the Dutch soccer player Rudd Gullit. As he grew up he did not play football, instead became a travel guide. Gifted with good English, he did a good job explaining Chongqing in great detail. He was sad about the economic recession in the USA, prior to that he made lots of money, taking American tourists around. He feels, today China is better off.

Located in central China is the mountain city of Chongqing. The name comes from the Jialing River that runs through the city into the nearby Yangtze River. It is the most populated city of China's four provincial-level municipalities. It is home to 32 million people. (Population of Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore put together).It is also the sister city of Seattle. Chongqing is one of the emerging Megacities, sprawled over an area of 82 300 km² (this is larger than the Czech Republic, with 78 867 km²)

Chongqing is set to become the most economically important city in West China and is certainly already the biggest inland city of the country with plans for even more massive growth. The city manufactures Volvo, Suzuki, Ford cars and motor bikes. In addition it is home to mining, pharmacy, textile and metallurgy. Hu also talked a lot about the presence of corruption in the government, how youngsters are addicted to Western TV programmes, how difficult it is for a person to own a house, who gets subsidised government accommodation, Black and Green GDP and a lot of ye – wo and all those things.

Chongqing is also the launching point for scenic boat trips down the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges Dam. City was also the capital of China during WWII between 1937 and 1946.

Chongqing is famous for its hot Sichuan cuisine and world-famous hotpot dishes. Street vendors as well as restaurants feature exciting spicy delicacies for the adventurers.

The city is blessed with very good weather and the temperature is generally around 25 to 14 deg C. There is a rule in China, which allows all the workers to go home, if the temperature crosses 40 deg C. Hu says “the government does not allow it to happen and continue to show the temperature as 39 deg C”.

As we had very limited time Hu decided to take it easy and show us around in the city. Whatever I saw in Chongqing – 32 million people were always at the back of my mind.

Figure 1 - On the way from the airport.

Figure 2 - Recently built highrise

Figure 3 - Notice the roads

Figure 4 - Some government accommodation

Figure 5 - Mono Rail to be commissioned shortly

Figure 6 - City surrounded by hills and with excellent weather

Figure 7 - Ancient Tower

Figure 8 - Excellent roads throughout

Figure 9 - Nearing city centre

Figure 10 - Housing and their exorbitant costs are cause for concern

Figure 11 - In the city centre

Figure 12 - Sunday painting classes at the City centre

Figure 13 - Sunday - 32 million people????

Figure 14 - Enough is enough where is the beer

Figure 15 - Here we come for lunch

Figure 16 - Market area

Figure 17 - Yin Hua Hotel for lunch

Figure 18 - Lunch Table

As we sat down, the waitress came across to Lalitamma and asked what she would like to have for lunch. Lalitamma, a hard core vegetarian very bravely said “what do you suggest”, to which the waitress said “what about Crisp fried pig ears”. I have never seen anyone so rattled.

Figure 19 - Sunday afternoon revelers

Figure 20 - A very familiar sight

We then went Eling Park which is at a height of 350 meters and offers a grand view of the Yangtze River to its south, the Jialing River to its north, the city proper to its east and the Futuguan to its west. Eling Park was built in 1909.

Figure 21 - Part of their Bonsai collection

Figure 22 - Jai and dimple

Figure 23 - Part of the garden

Figure 24 - Indian flowers

Figure 25 – Pagoda

Figure 26 - Mah-jong on a Sunday afternoon

Figure 27 - Yangtze on the Left

Figure 28 - Disciplining an errant tree

Figure 29 - Prassu tasting Kabab

Figure 30 – Preet appreciating local flowers

Figure 31 - For a moment I thought they were Idli

Figure 32 - Navin with her dinner

Figure 33 - Poor Prassu carrying beer for all of us

After a bit of Chinese dinner, Hu put us on a bus to catch the ferry for the River Cruise. So ended our visit to the most populous city in the whole world.

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