No matter how much you travel, or even how much time you spend in a country, it never seems enough to see everything you want to or could do.
I’ve spent more than a few years in China now, on and off, and there are still loads of places I want to go to.
Chongqing, however, was never on the list.
The problem is, with the country so vast and the number of people travelling on national holidays, you can’t always go where you’d like to.
So, as circumstances dictated, part of my trip on the most recent national holiday here took in Chongqing.
Really though, why not?
I read up on the place. Listen to this.
One of China’s four municipalities (along with Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai), it’s actually the country’s biggest city by area. It’s also one of the most polluted places in the world.
And with the hilly geography meaning taking in more of this air while walking around, who wouldn’t want to go there?
So I did more reading. This time on what to do while I was there.
One of the must-dos in Chongqing is eating the fantastic(ally spicy) hot pot.
And I did.
— Lee Webb (@myfavouritelee) September 27, 2015
This ain’t a food blog, though.
So on we go to another of the city’s must-dos.
Chongqing’s cable car
Crossing the Yangtze River from the city’s commercial centre to the eastern bank and easily reachable by subway, Chongqing’s cable car is as much a mode of transport for locals as it is a tourist attraction.
Which is always good, as it helps to keep the price down.
As it swoops down and across the vast expanse of muddy water below before rising again to the exit station, the views of the skyline on both sides promised much.
If on a clear day in one of the world’s most polluted cities, of course.
It wasn’t too bad.
Good visibility or not, Chongqing’s cable car itself is actually pretty charming.
Mercifully not yet replaced by a shiny glass and steel modern version, it still looks like it must have done for decades.
The Vintage Film presets seem to work well with it too.
Riding it was a completely touristic venture, by the way.
There was an option to buy a return ticket for the bargain price of exactly double the cost of going one-way. Declining this with a view to seeing what was on the other side before returning later in the day was a mistake, though.
There was nothing really to see or do there. There will be, at some point, but at the time I visited it was still under construction.
Or, more accurately, modernisation.
So despite being exactly the same price as two singles, the Chongqing cable car return ticket did eventually seem like it would have been good value, purely for the convenience.
Chongqing; the city aside from the cable car
China likes to replace whatever begins to look dated. Ancient things are usually safe, but anything that looks run-down rather than historic is usually smartened up in some way.
However, much of Chongqing the city had a similar feel to its cable car, which led to me enjoying my time there more than I thought I would.
Call it shabby chic. Retro. Scruffy. Whatever.
It’s got far more character than I ever found in all-new, shiny Shenzhen.
It took me a day or two to put my finger on exactly why I liked it.
But once I realised, I was sure I had it.
Most people who visit Hong Kong will spend time in two distinct areas.
Kowloon, and Hong Kong Island.
The former is older, cheaper, less developed, less shiny, but with far more character. The latter has the glass and steel buildings, the international banking headquarters, the Irish bars, the expats in suits, and the hills.
Good lord is Hong Kong Island hilly.
And so is Chongqing, yet with the charm of old Kowloon.
I like Hong Kong. Not so much the hills, I admit. But once I’d realised Chongqing reminded me so much of the place, I liked it there too.
Shabby chic again, of course.
Would I recommend Chongqing to first-time travellers to China?
Not over the usual places, no. But it’s certainly worth a trip once they have been exhausted.
Or even beforehand, should national holiday travel patterns dictate.
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