Yangtze River Cruise 19/4/08
We flew out of Shenzhen to Chongching without much drama at all. Though there’s a typhoon due to hit near Hong Kong sometime in the next 24 hours, the weather was only slightly turbulent. The food with China Air is very good.
Once off the plane, we got on the local equivalent of the A330 City-Airport bus (Y15pp) and went to the bus depot where we got a taxi. It was starting to rain, too. At the other end there was a slight drama. We had an address written down in Chinese characters for the driver, but had to get someone else to help us find the place. We were very grateful towards a map-seller for his kindness.
Arriving at the destination, we finally met Amy, with whom I’ve corresponded via a dozen emails. She was helpful and talked as fast in real life as she did on the phone.
Chongching is very hilly and there’s barely a lasting flat surface amongst it. It’s a bit like Hong Kong in that respect. It is also one of the 4 ‘furnace cities’ in China, but since March is just near the beginning of the hot season, the weather is not too oppressive yet.
While we were at the tourist office, there was a screeching of brakes outside, then a loud thump. A man had been hit by a car and come off his scooter. In a short time a lot of people gathered around, and there was no obvious blood or anything on the ground so the man was probably ok. On the other hand, he hadn’t moved the whole time, which suggests he was less than ok. When we saw the spot he fell a few hours later, there was only a little bit of car fluid left on the ground, and no marks of anyone.
Andrew and I bought some noodles, fruit, tinned tuna and chips for our few days on the boat (who knows what the food would be like?), and then continued along the street to the cable car.
We’d been planning to have Sichuan hotpot in Chongqing. The hotpot place was pretty much deserted, since it was only 5pm, but we were hungry and they were not about to turn away hungry guests since the doors were open. We had a ‘half-half’ pot, which is benign on the outer and chilli in the middle. According to our faithful LP, the chillis they use for the hot pot here are ‘more lethal’ than the ones used in Chengdu. We were given a bowl of oil and vinegar and MSG salt in which to dip our chilified things. It was really necessary. The chilli effect on the tongue was cumulative and so tea needed some time taken over it, to both chilify and dechillifiy.
At tea I’d previously brought out my Mandarin phrasebook, becasue you never know when you’ll need it, and a bold waitress asked to have a look. She then spent the best part of the next hour writing down phrases that she needed for her work.
There’s a cable car that crosses the river, which we had a look at and a ride on. Y3 return, just over the river and back again, which gave us a great view of the… er… yeah… hmmm. There were 2 cars running. Incidentally we’re around the middle of China, so the obvious staring at the foreigners has started again.
When Andrew and I were crossing the road, he nearly walked into the path of an oncoming bus. He later said that the bus was going slowly and was turning uphill, but it still gave me a shock. In general, the traffic here is more crazy than down south. There are more near-misses around here than I’m used to.
We were taken for a bit of a ride on the boat. We’d originally booked a 2nd class room, which is 4 people per room. After being there for 2 minutes our guide told us that we must go to another room, which turned out to be a first class room. We settled down. Half an hour later he came to us demanding payment of an additional Y1000 because it was first class. By this time we were tired and un-packed and so, in time-honoured Chinese tradition, bargained a deal to stay. Over the next few days we really appreciated it as a respite from everyone else, many of whom were smoking heavily.
Departing Chongching at night was impressive (see lead photo) but we left on the boat too early in the evening to truly appreciate it’s night time splendour. Most of the buildings were still looming grey, just starting to take on their night-time illuminated hue.