A small municipality with a population of a mere 33 million people.
It sounds beautiful. A city in a sub-tropical temperature zone on the river Yangtze and so mountainous that no one in Chongqing rides a bike. In fact when students from Chongqing go to university outside of their home city the other students laugh at them as they have to learn to ride a bike for the first time in their lives. Public transport in this city includes monorails, funicular railways and chairlifts.
Well it might very well be very beautiful but one will never know on account of this.....
It is so foggy (not to mention the pollution) that the residents of the city hardly ever see the sun, and visitors do not get to see the mountainsides at all.
Chongqing was the capital of China during the Second World War. This was an act of tactical genius. The city was the western side of the Three Gorges on the Yangtze which at that time was an extremely hazardous river and was very difficult for the Japanese to penetrate through. There were no roads over the mountains so the only other possible way to attack the city was by air but it is so bloody foggy the Japanese fighter pilots couldn’t find the place, let alone successfully bomb it.
Much as I would love to sing the praises of this place our few hours in the city before boarding our boat to take us down the river do not count as the highlight of the trip, but I am nevertheless not likely to forget that day in a hurry. In each place we visited we had a different guide. Our guide in Chongqing was called Jackie (English version of his name). Anyway, my middle son was getting on really well with him and the two of them were chatting away nineteen to the dozen. We were in what had been the headquarters of the joint American and Chinese war effort. I was looking at some photos from that time and asked Jackie a question about one of them. He answered the question and then had one of his own for me: “Do you remember the war?”
It was one of those moments when your brain can’t quite process what someone has just said to you as it is simply too dreadful to comprehend. Apparently I stood there with a stunned and horrified expression on my face as I tried to manufacture a reply that was politer than “Fuck right off” when I realised my son was bent double with laughter. Jackie’s question had been instigated by him, and carried out with panache by his accomplice. Revenge will be mine when he least expects it.
So here is downtown Chongqing – yet another place with massive investment pouring in.
But I have to be honest - the best part of our day in Chongqing was the moment our boat set sail and we left the place!
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