i left the house around 10am for some breakfast of rice porridge and a pair of meat buns (RMB7). today's 2 destination was the nanshan botanical garden then the new jialing bridge in the evening to get some night time photos of the city. before i got on the subway though, i made a quick stop at the new century supermarket to get some napkin packets (RMB3.50, i had some back at the hotel but i was all out on myself) and a bag of beef jerky (RMB9.90, got emergency food). i had with me a bottle of water from the hotel.
going to nanshan (south mountain) was easy because i'd been there twice already with sunmeng. it involves going to naping station (just 6 stops directly on blue metro line 3) then taking the infamous 384 bus from the bus station. bus and train stations are notoriously noisy places, filled with boisterous private minivan and car drivers looking to find passengers to fill their vehicles. from memory i was able to find the 384 bus stop, located at the far end of the bus plaza, which in itself is kind of strange place, as buses and pedestrians wander haphazardly about.
given that today was a nice blue sky day, i shouldn't have been surprised to see the long line of people heading to nanshan. a bus arrived, filled up with people, followed quickly by a second bus, which also filled up. i was in front of the line for the 3rd bus. if you didn't mind standing, you could also go for a standing-only spot, but i minded. the 2nd bus didn't leave, the driver disappeared for a break, then came back shortly. the 3rd bus came soon afterwards, everyone climbed on, i got a seat directly behind the driver, but in hindsight was a bad decision because there was a platform where my feet were supposed to be so i was in an awkward crouching position for the next hour. an elderly couple sat next to me on opposite side of the aisle. they didn't speak chongqing dialect so i knew they weren't local, the husband knew some english as he could read the words on some of the buses. not sure where they were from, but definitely chinese, and arrived in chongqing via the three gorges.
we departed nanping around 11:30am. i had the window opened to take photos even though it was slightly chilly outside. fine for me, but i was concerned about the people behind and next to me. the route goes by a part of nanbin road (the southern coastline area opposite yuzhong pennisula), which is a famous part of chongqing i've only seen but never got the chance to visit. the most striking landmark of nanbin road are these golden twin towers.
it took about 35-40 minutes to get to the top of nanshan, and technically only 12 stops. part of the reason why it takes a bit longer than it should is because of the winding switchback roads on the mountain. i could feel the driver flooring the gas pedal as we slowly struggled up the incline. two pervasive smells immediately struck our noses: one was of fresh spray paint, as it seemed like the road crew had recently reapplied zebra-stripes on the metal safety barricades. the second smell was even worse, maybe there was a trash dump nearby, or an agricultural plant, because all of nanshan smelled like a pig farm. not like a light pig farm, but deep in pig waste material fertilizer smell. the odor was so strong that there were times i wanted to gag and i even thought about asking my money back (which i knew would have been a pointless effort).
the old couple got off at huangshan while i continued all the way to the end of the line. i saw the famous golden eagle landmark, which sunmeng and i climbed the first time we visited nanshan (there's paid admission to see the golden eagle but we snuck after despite being yelled at by ushers). i used the bathroom first before buying a ticket (underground, dark, wet, smelly, like a toilet cave, but at least there was running water in the sinks). sunmeng had warned me it was expensive to visit the botanical garden, something like RMB30 + RMB50. the price is as follows: RMB30 just to get into the garden area, and then another RMB20 to visit the botanical garden greenhouse. the pricing is weird because there's no way to get into the botanical garden without actually getting into the garden first, so it's not like you can just pay RMB20.
there was a field of pots leading the way up to the greenhouse. each pot had a seedling, signs of things to come. before i even came to the greenhouse i could hear the chatter of hundreds of school children, here on a field trip. teachers had them organized into battalions, as they systemically marched their way into the greenhouse. i lined up behind them, the usher making sure i paid my ticket instead of trying to sneak in through the back with the kids. this is how much i like plants: just in the foyer area itself i must've spent 20 minutes photographing all the different orchids and tropical plants on display. despite the crowd of children, despite the pig fertilizer smell, i could spend the whole day here.