ducks for sale :-(

chongqing is a hilly city - so much so that there are no bicycles anywhere. this means great vantage points for those looking to take photos. the streets themselves are a pleasure for pedestrains, unlike the streets of shanghai, crowded with construction equipment, trash, bicycles, motorcycles, and of course the 16 million residents of shanghai - not to say that chongqing isn't a big city itself - the 4th largest city in china - but i haven't seen the crush of people i saw in shanghai. here in chongqing little picturesque alleys often line the streets and many streets are found under a canopy of trees to provide shade.

i made my way to the remnants of the former chongqing city wall. it's not indicated on any of my maps and the only reason i knew about its existence is because i saw it from a taxi window yesterday. if you keep on following the wall it leads to a quaint little hutong, ancient stone steps, and old chinese people relaxing underneath trees. it's definitely a hidden gem and i felt like i was intruding on their quiet little hideout.

chongqing coolie

since there are no bicycles in chongqing, the cheapest way to move things around is by old fashion human power in the form of coolies armed with their ropes and poles, hauling supplies from hilltop to hilltop.

remnin concert hall

i walked all the way to the renmin concert hall, about 2 miles in this hot weather. bear in mind that the lunch i was looking to find never did get found and soon it started creeping towards dinner time and i wasn't hungry anyway, only stopping to get something to drink from a chinese supermarket that was selling live horseshoe crabs in their meat department.

remmin concert hall (interior)

renmin concert hall looks great from the outside but not so interesting from the inside. to make matters worse, you have to pay RMB$5 to get in (about 60 cents, but it's the principle that's at stake here). afterwards, having had enough of walking, and thoroughly no more energy left, i grabbed a taxi back to the hotel - coincidently, the price for the ride was also the same amount to get into the concert hall.


it'd be a crime to leave chongqing without having tried their world famous sichuan hotpot (although i can probably get more of the same in chengdu). i went down to a street that was lined with hotpot restaurants and picked one based on the most interesting neon signage. luckily i'd had my share of hotpot experience, otherwise i wouldn't know what to order. i still had to get the waitresses to help me though, when i told them i was from out of town ("like, way out of town, like, america"), and the manager of the restaurant even pitched in, coaching me from the sideline, her young daughter watching me intently, never having seen a person not experience sichuan hotpot before (that's a lie: i have, just not in sichuan). my favorite: duck tongue, which i've never had in a hotpot before but now i want it everytime. when it was finally over, my lips were numb from the peppercorns, my head was spinning from the bottle of black beer, and my shirt was gloriously stained with red hot chili oil splatter.

renmin monument

suwei decided not to leave chongqing tonight after all, so early tomorrow morning we're taking the train together to chengdu. we went out to downtown chongqing to buy our train tickets from the local branch office, but unfortunately we got their too late and they were closed. near the renmin monument, it reminded me very much of nanjing donglu, even down to the point where we were being constantly solicited by men with advertisements for massage or escort services. i asked suwei if they thought he was a foreigner, since he was getting so much attention. "no, it's you," he replied. later we took a taxi down to the train station itself to buy our tickets for tomorrow.

my head is spinning. not sure if it's the sea legs or the lack of food or both. i've been wandering the hot streets of chongqing (aka chungking). the city is hot but not like shanghai hot: here it's a dry heat, which i can handle (it's the humidity that i can't stand and makes me think of killing myself). downtown chongqing must look great at night, like another nanjing donglu of shanghai, so i'm going to come back later this evening. i spent most of the day visiting cell phone stores and trying to buy a phone for myself, for emergency purposes. if you think negotiating a cell phone plan in the US is hard, try doing it chinese. i ended up buying a cheap $55 dollar monochrome motorola (C118) and paying enough of a per minute plan for 3 months (about $35). (don't let my purchase make you think that china is some how lacking in wireless communication technology: most of the cellphones i see on the streets here are at least a generation beyond US phones.) this chinese young man from a store helped me out, and he told me that chongqing girls are one of the prettiest in china but they're hard to afford (hangzhou and suzhou also rank high on his list of hot chinese ladies). coming back to the hotel to drop off the box (from the phone), i got lost and had to resort to my GPS to find my bearing. when i came back i was surprised to find my business traveling roommate still here - which is good news because i can have laptop internet access for a little while longer.

going out again to get some lunch, then explore the streets of chongqing some more.