Just another day in China. Again we have to move on. This is a bit of a pity as we liked Dazu and could have spent longer here looking at all the different rock carving sites.
We caught a taxi to the bus station as it was raining. A good thing too, as it wasn’t where we had thought it was. Then on the Bus to Chongqing. The usual mountainsides splattered with numerous small villages and fields, then the city started. Chongqing is the largest city in China and potentially the world (Depending on how you measure the city population). It could be interesting, but it is also a big city, with all the issues of travel involved with that as well. E.G the time it takes to get across the city.
When we got in, it was just around noon. The bus station was close to the west train station, so we asked if there was a train to Fengdu for tomorrow. This was not the right station. We would have to go to the north station. There was a bus next door that would take us though, so we went over there. Apparently there is only one bus a day!? And it leaves around 3:30 taking 2 hours to get there. Finding this out we booked our tickets. We could jump a day ahead of schedule this way.
It was a boring wait at the bus station, but we were eventually allowed to board the bus. There seemed to be an issue with the tickets though, as the driver took them and disappeared. He came back with the assistant that had translated our requests when buying the tickets (she worked at the station as a supervisor) . Now she was informing us that the bus would take 4 hours, and go everywhere else in the prefecture before finally hitting Fengdu around dark. This was not what we had expected. Needless to say we were a little pissed off at this. We had clearly asked how long it would take, and she had apparently checked. Now it was double the time. Not looking good here. We thanked her for ruining our day (as we had sat here for hours and now lost any chance of getting to Fengdu in daylight (it is not fun dragging your bags around a strange city at night in China see the Chengdu blog) and lost any time for sightseeing Chongqing today as well. Deep Breaths. She understood English enough to realise how annoyed we were and didn’t even blink when we asked for our money back.
We walked over a 4 lane highway back to where we had started in the city all those hours ago, having travelled all of 150m (the width of the road) and caught a bus to Chongqingbai station, as we would at least know how to catch our train to Beijing when it was time, and not have another stuff around like this one. At the station, we went to the ticket hall to see if we could buy a ticket to Fengdu for tomorrow here. The closest hall to the station itself is only automated tickets, and wouldn’t take us to our destination. The second hall is a lot further away, but it was possible to get the ticket. We opted for the 7:15 train. Anna thought I was nuts, but I reckoned that we would need the time if we were to find a hotel and get to the temple we wanted to go to. Plus by this time, I probably wasn’t thinking straight. Still, we got the ticket, and all was good.
Then our next stop was to find accommodation. At least there are plenty around. Walking towards the sign for the 7 day inn, as the last one was good (even if the first one we had tried didn’t accept us, as we are not Chinese) we thought we would check prices. We have a hostel marked on the map, and would work our way towards it trying each one along the way. No. No. No. No. Yes. We could stay in a super 8.
The funny thing here was that all the hotel lobbies were in a row, and the lift to go up to our room was shared by at least three other hotels that wouldn’t accept us?!? We are not sure if it is all owned by the one company operating as different brands, or if each company rents specific floors. Either way is is as confusing as the rest of this city. So, now it was almost dark. All we had done was arrive in a city, book a train and find a hotel. Slow travel at its finest. Its not as if we even spent all day sitting in a comfortable coffee shop whiling away the hours in luxury. It was a hard gruelling day of sitting in places and being frustrated.
So to liven up the day we headed out to Ciqikou. This is one of the old traditional areas in town, it is still supposed to be well preserved and has about 18,000 people living in 1.4km2. So it should at least be lively. It is on the west side of the city, and we are somewhere on the north. At least there is a subway. It would take us all the way there with only one transfer.
The subway is clean and efficient. Half of it is above ground, but that just gave us a view of all the skyscrapers around. Apparently the average he
ight of buildings in Chongqing is around 35 floors! It shows. We made it there without any problems. The ticket machines accept notes and do the stations in English, which is a great help. At the station there were no sides. We got off on a street that had a few stalls on it and looked around. Nothing. Coming in there seemed to be a large garbage dump of a construction site to the left, so we went through the underpass to the right. There was a street sign for Cikiqou here and we followed that. It went up the hill and back the way we had come from! At least we knew where to go now. The entrance to the street was next to that building site on the other side of the road. Going in it is all bright lights, candy shops, dried foodstuffs and all the other things we are associating with tourist areas.
Both sides of the street were two story buildings in a traditional style, but we wouldn’t have called them that old.
Still, it had an atmosphere, was full of lights colours and noise. Wandering around we took the side streets, going up the hill into a more residential area, walking almost over the roofs of some of the houses on narrow broken paths. Back to the main area we ended up in a live music area towards the old dock. From here we went down to the dock area, but were disappointed that the whole area is under construction, and fenced off. They use solid fences in China, so you cant even see what they are doing. It wasn’t very interesting at the moment so we walked back up the hill. This was pretty much the end of what we could do.
There were a couple of statues and sculptures that we had seen and a couple that we couldn’t find.
An interesting one was the monument for dead soldiers in the anti-Japanese war. It fell out of favor and was buried. Then later it was seen as an iconic thing, and they couldn’t find it again, so they made a new one. There is also one of the street, it is an areal view. If you took the model of the street and put it upright. Different.
By now it was late, and the place had lost its bustling feel, people were shutting up their shops, and without the light it was getting a bit dark. Time to head back to the hotel. At least we got to see some of Chongqing.