Written & Photos by (作者, 图片来源): Summer Xia 夏益
Sitting in the Chongqing Monorail, gliding through the mountains high above the streets below, I looked out over this expansive city: mountains encircled a bustling metropolis with high-rises dotting the landscape. Another train passed by us. We shuttled from one station to the next, the city pulsing below our feet. I felt the people of Chongqing must be very brave to take this roller coaster ride to and from work each day! We alighted and found ourselves in an urban area, surrounded by sights, sounds, and smells. The scent of Chongqing hotpot, arguably the spiciest hotpot in China, filled the air with its delicious aroma. We had arrived in an amazing place.
Our first stop was the People’s Liberation Monument, the modern symbol of Chongqing. Built during the height of WWII and on the anniversary of Sun Yat-sen’s death in 1940, the monument is a towering octagon with a smooth white surface. Even if it is dwarfed by the Jiefangbei CBD which has gradually surrounded the monument, it is still a testament to the strength of the city. Near the monument is the entrance to Xinhua Road and the Yangtze River Cableway, spanning the river and connecting Yuzhong and Nan’an District. We recommend going to Nan’an District by bus and then taking the cable car back to Xinhua Road. It is not only fast, but it’s a great way to see the city and Yangtze River from above. Looking at the lights across the river through the misty evening, we were enchanted by the scene. Chongqing is definitely worthy of the nickname “Mini Hong Kong.”
Ten minutes or so from Jiefangbei CBD is the wonderland of Hongyadong. Approaching the place, I saw skyscrapers in the distance. We walked and walked and suddenly it was upon us: a towering amalgamation of traditional Chinese architecture 11 stories high, its eclectic nature like something out of one of Miyazaki’s classic animations. Each floor has distinctive shops, performance areas, food stalls, cafés, viewing decks and more. Hongyadong lights up in the evening, enhancing its fairytale status, as mysterious as the bath house in Spirited Away.
Another stop on our list was Ciqikou, Chongqing’s famous old street. Like Beijing’s Wangfujing, Nanjing’s Confucius Temple Area, Xi’an’s Muslim Street, and Ningbo’s Nantang Old Street, Ciqikou is the place to go for a taste of “old” Chongqing. Once an important ferry terminal for the Jialing River, today it is serves tourists and travelers from all across China. The narrow stone streets are lined with tiny shops and food stalls and great views of the river. There are many tea houses as well, from which you can sit and enjoy the scenes taking place upon the flowing water. Unfortunately, the street was packed for the holidays, and we had to hurry along to other places close by: Zhongshan 4th Road, the Residence of Zhou, Democratic Parties History Museum, Sweetscented Osmanthus Garden, Bayu Cultural Hall, and the Kuomintang Government Site. All of these sites, though heavy in history, gave us a different perspective of Chongqing, which, mixed with the fresh air, helped us enjoy our stay more.
Since our time was limited, we never got the chance to see the Three Natural Bridges of Wulong County and the Dazu Rock Carvings, two highly recommended sites outside the city center. All the more reason to return for more stories and adventures in this beautiful central city. Chongqing is a magnificent city, and we hope to return soon to this amazing metropolis.