It is said in China that Chongqing girls are the most beautiful in China as it is so steep they are fit and because it is always foggy they are fair skinned. While I cant comment on the women, the reasoning is sound!! One of our female guides also noted that they were as spicy as the infamous hot pot...again no comment.
Chongqing was the starting point of our Yangtze cruise but we arrived a few days earlier so we could visit the Fairy Mountains (a few years back we entered a competition to design a resort there) and see Chongqing old town.
We arrived late in the afternoon and found the building our hostel was in... for the first time we realised we had made a big mistake... It may have been just across the road from a city centre metro station but the building was dilapidated and the abandoned cars in the forecourt didn’t instill confidence, the grimy flight of stairs that had the familiar smell of public toilet reduced our confidence further. What a surprise then when we entered the hostel to find a bright, clean hostel with friendly helpful staff and large comfortable rooms. Big thumbs up for the Traveling With Hostel.
Having spent so long in the desert I needed a western fix and a cold beer, we had read about a place in the Hongya Cave development so we took the opportunity to get our fix and see this rather impressive... and tacky, reconstruction of ‘old, stilt house’ Chongqing set on the hillside of the Jailing river. We spent the next hour traipsing around trying to find the pub being sent in all directions by the helpful, yet clueless, staff before eventually finding the gutted shell of the pub I so desperately craved.. I left a guttered shell and headed back to the hostel for cheap beer and rather good hostel food (ended up as a cheap night).
The late Ming Dynasty Ancient Town of Ciqikou ‘Old Chongqing’ lies just west of the CBD and this is where we headed the next morning. This ancient town, that rises from the Jialing river, has now been fully restored into a tourist hotspot.
Beside the Hostel was a mosque under which was a local ‘halal’ hotpot place, speciality lamb, yes please. We headed there for dinner and Bea learnt what real hotpot was all about, not that mild Chengdu stuff.
We were to board the Yangtze cruise boat the next afternoon, so with the morning to kill we headed out to the fishing town fortress. We had checked on line the night before and there were plenty of train tickets available, so were surprised when we got to the station to be told that there was only one seat left, the look of dejection on our face must have been obvious as the supervisor suddenly managed to find two seats, together! Given this we felt it wise to get the return tickets at the same time, quick calculation x time for train y time for sight seeing train back at z.oclock which we promptly booked.
We arrived back with plenty of time to pick up our bags and head to the Yangtze River and Victoria Lines, MS Selina.