The last stop for our Yangtze river cruise was the city of Chongqing (重庆).
According to our Chinese travel guide, Chongqing is famous for three things:
1) The night time scenery (ok…..)
2) The hottest hot pot in the entire world
3) The prettiest girls in China (a city that claims, I shit you not, you can see a Bridgette Lin every three steps and a Maggie Cheung every five steps) (三步一个林青霞，五步一个张曼玉)
In spite of Jo’s whining that she would need to survive on a diet of bread and fruits for the next few days, I was pretty excited stepping off the ship (see point 3). I wanted to check into a hostel immediately and start exploring the presumably lovely city of Chongqing (again, see point 3)
We first realized that all was not quite right in Chongqing as we were making our way to the hostel recommended by Lonely Planet. We know that Chongqing is VERY hilly and because of the mountains surrounding the city, it is almost perpetually shrouded in fog, mist and… pollutants.
We’ve read about this, yet somehow I don’t think we truly appreciated how potent a combination these two factors make. We know we’ve been pampering ourselves silly the past week or so, but panting madly after a flight of stairs is just… wrong. It doesn’t help that the phlegm we coughed out was kind of grayish. (I know, TMI, but I’m trying to make a point here).
(Un?)fortunately, the hostel (which we did not pre-book) was out of rooms. There were dingy dorms available, but I figured that after a week of cruising, we really need to ease slowly into the whole “roughing it out” routine again. When I say “we”, of course I meant “I”.
The next available hostel is a dizzying 400 metres climb up a hill.
Believe it or not, at this point, we were still willing to give Chongqing a chance, but the straw that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back was a billboard we saw on the way to the other hostel.
It read (in bold) “Chongqing: A Liveable City”.
At first, we thought it was one of those things that got “lost in translation”, but the Chinese sign actually read: “重庆：宜居的都市“ (literally, Chongqing: A Liveable City)
I think you are pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel when the best adjective you can think of to promote your city is “liveable”. Note to the governor of Chongqing: you really should think about sacking your tourism department.
We booked the first train out of the city.
And that’s the story of how we went in and out of a city in four hours.
We did not even stop to take a photo.
Ok, we took one. The famous night scene of Chongqing which we took from the Queen Victoria the night before.
But what about point 3???
Well, let’s just say that I left the city WILLINGLY.