Chongqing, China

After a four-night, three-day cruise up the Yangtze river, we docked at Chongqing, boarded a bus and were taken to see the city’s tourist attractions. All five photos in this post were shot through a bus window at one time or another during the day.

Smog obscures the highways and buildings of the Chongqing riverside.

Smog obscures the highways and buildings of the Chongqing riverside.

Chongqing (pronounced Chong/ching) (formerly Romanized as Chungking) is one of four direct-controlled municipalities (the other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin) in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This means Chongqing doesn’t report to a province or other level of government, but straight to the centre.

The municipality is said to be the largest in China in both area and population. It reaches a width of 470 kilometres (290 mi) from east to west, and a length of 450 km (280 mi) from north to south. The central city’s population is about 30 million with the greater area exceeding 35 million.

This Guardian article is eight years old, and a little long, but looks at the effect of rapid urbanization in China on a cross section of Chinese people living in Chongqing.

Colours muted by the smog

Colours muted by the smog.

Another example of the engineering prowess of the Chinese.

Another example of the engineering prowess of the Chinese.

During World War II and the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945) Chongqing was the provisional capital of China and the headquarters of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (KMT) government. More than 50 embassies moved to Chongqing with him at that time.  The building below probably predates even that period.

An older part of Chongqing, which would have been interesting to explore.

An older part of Chongqing, which would have been interesting to explore. Sigh.

People work hard in China, and the picture below shows typical tree protection and planting work beside highways. In fact, trees that I would have considered as fully grown, still had their tripod supports.

The roadsides and medians throughout China were 98% immaculate.

The roadsides and medians throughout China were 98% immaculate.

Next post: Pandas!

Ghost City, Fengdu China

A beautiful entrance to the Ghost City proper.  It was very foggy/smoggy and humid.

A beautiful entrance to the Ghost City proper. It was very foggy/smoggy and humid.

It was a steamy and smoggy day when we were offered a ‘free’ tour of The Ghost City. In other words, this tour was included in our overall tour/cruise price. Fengdu is 170 Km downstream from Chongqing and it was our last excursion before we docked and debarked the next morning.  There was a considerable amount of uphill trekking to get to the site entrance. And considerably more to get to the more esoteric aspects of the ghostly city.

Another view of the entrance area.

Another view of the entrance area.

An interesting thing about Chinese floral displays was that they were not planted in the ground, but left in their pots.  Is there something to be learned by northern park designers from this?  There certainly didn't appear to be much vandalism - but then in China, in 'official' places you wouldn't expect any.

An interesting thing about Chinese floral displays was that they were not planted in the ground, but left in their pots. Is there something to be learned by northern park designers from this? There certainly didn’t appear to be much vandalism – but then in China, in ‘official’ places you wouldn’t expect any.

The city has been around for nearly 2,000 years, filling it with a spooky sense of the past. The story begins back in the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), when two officials decided to run away and live out their lives, where they eventually, the story goes, became immortal. Yin and Wang, the names of the officials, were combined during a later dynasty to mean “King of the Underworld.”There is background to be found here and here.

Superficially, Fengdu looked like a fairly typical older shrine.

Fairly typical Chinese architecture, roof lines and colour.

Fairly typical Chinese architecture, roof lines and colour.

Painting detail.

Painting detail.

Roof detail; mythical figures.

Roof detail; mythical figures.

A terrace for gathering and meditating on what one has seen?

A terrace for gathering and meditating on what one has seen?

 

The end of the tour - vendors selling all manner of spirited souvenirs.

The end of the tour – vendors selling all manner of spirited souvenirs.

There was a long set of stairs back down to the cruise ship.

Returning to the ship from Fengdu.

Returning to the ship from Fengdu.

That’s enough photos for one post, and a good storyteller leaves things hanging.
The next post will include the ghost-like aspect of Fengdu.

Wushan: Living by the Yangtze

Wushan. A brand new cityscape - since 1997.

Wushan. A brand new cityscape – since 1997.

The port of departure for our tour of the Three Little Gorges was Wushan.   If  you look online for images of Wushan, you will see some amazing ‘before’ photos, before the Three Gorges Dam raised the water level and required the removal of hundreds of buildings.

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High rise accommodation on steep hills.

High rise accommodation on steep hills.

Tours up the Three Little Gorges are an important economic feature of Wushan.

Tours up the Three Little Gorges are an important economic feature of Wushan.

As we docked, returning from our tour of the three little gorges, we were greeted with a huge sign and very dirty water.

Another delightful Chinese sign.

Another delightful Chinese sign.

The Yangtze River at Wushan  polluted by plastic and much more.

The Yangtze River at Wushan polluted by plastic and much more.

I only took one or two photos of other towns on the river, both from further downstream.

Just above Yichang.

Just above Yichang.

Somewhere on the Yangtze between the dam and Wushan.

Somewhere on the Yangtze between the dam and Wushan.

Next post: Community Theatre.

San Francisco – Street Photography

I was only in downtown San Francisco once during our February 2014 visit. We rode the street car past a hotel or hostel where chairs were set out on the edge of the sidewalk.

Taken from the N Judah street car from 9th Avenue to downtown.

Taken from the N Judah street car from 9th Avenue to downtown.

Upon arriving on Market Street we hiked uphill to California Street. Whew.  The wait for the famous San Francisco street cars was quite short, but we needed the exercise.

Climbing uphill.

Climbing uphill.

After we visited Grace Cathedral, we walked back down to Market Street. There was a three-alarm fire that day at an auto body repair shop in the Bayview District. We noticed the smoke as we walked.

Going downhill from the visit at Grace Cathedral.

Going downhill from the visit at Grace Cathedral.

Where there's smoke...

Where there’s smoke…

Ironic that one of the few photos I took was of a water hydrant?

Grin.

Grin.

Taken because my community theatre group in Prince Edward Island is also called ACT (a community theatre)!

Taken because my community theatre group in Prince Edward Island is also called ACT (a community theatre)!

We had lunch at Salt House, where we had eaten on by birthday almost exactly four years before.

Lunch, sitting at the bar at Salt House, a restaurant I would highly recommend.

Lunch, sitting at the bar at Salt House, a restaurant I would highly recommend.

Every now and then I get the opportunity to have a picture of me.

BuntyMcC self portrait with Pentax K20.

BuntyMcC self portrait with Pentax K20.

Next post: Pacifica, CA

Big Boats on the Yangtze

Hundreds of big boats passed us in both directions on the Yangtze River cruise.

Cruise ships….

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Up close and personal with a cruise ship tied up next to us.  Despite the moderate humidity, laundry did dry in 18-24 hours.

Up close and personal with a cruise ship tied up next to us. Despite the moderate humidity, laundry did dry in 18-24 hours.

Barges with cargo that wasn’t always identifiable….

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Mid-sized brightly painted tour/cruise ships….

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There were ships acting as gangways between the land and the cruise ships – as was this one, otherwise a bit of a wreck.

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Next post: a change-up: San Francisco.

Little Boats

The Yangtze River is an important waterway for commerce of all magnitude, from one-person fishing craft to huge barges and fair-sized cruise ships.

In this post are a selection of small boats.  Well, the first one isn’t actually a boat!

Not a boat, but a marker buoy!

A marker buoy!

A hard life on dirty water.

A hard life on dirty water.

On our second day of the cruise we transferred to smaller tour boats to visit the higher reaches of some of the gorges which you can see here.  These two photos show details from our smaller tour boat.

A boatsman repairs a rope.

A boatsman repairs a rope.

Our tour boat's bumper.

Our tour boat’s bumper.

While we were on the tour up-gorge, there were numerous other smallish boats, including ones containing only Chinese tourists.

We did a double take on the fellow at the prow of the boat. Mao Tse-Tung come back to life?

We did a double take on the fellow at the prow of the boat. Mao Tse-Tung come back to life?

When we returned to the mooring of the cruise ship we were met by a friendly mobile shrimp vendor. Judging by the colour and content of the water in the Yangtze, it would not have been my choice for a healthy lunch.

Lunch!  Fresh right here!

Lunch! Fresh right here!

A couple of the Chinese passengers with us did buy these tiny shrimp.

A couple of the Chinese passengers with us did buy these tiny shrimp.

Next post: bigger boats – probably more properly termed ships.

Gorgeous Gorges

Another sunrise-in-smog photo.

Another sunrise-in-smog photo.

On our second day on the Yangtze River cruise we boarded smaller boats and navigated upstream through narrow gorges that were inaccessible from the cruise ship. The cliffs were steep and some of the views spectacular. But we were not alone – there were tour boats of several shapes and sizes to keep us company.

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Temple, high above the current water levels.

Temple, high above the current water levels.

There were also private boats and speed boats on the narrower gorges so it is not unreasonable to think that wealthy Chinese might want to escape urban life and sail upriver to an idyllic spot like this.

This "road' seemed to lead to an out of the way vacations home - as seen in the next photo  There were private boats and speed boats keeping us company as we toured the narrower gorges so it is not unreasonable to think that a wealthy Chinese might want to escape urban life, drive to a boat dock and sail upriver to an idyllic spot like this.

This “road’ seemed to lead to an out of the way vacation home – as seen in the next photo

A small compound. Monks or a getaway?

A small compound. Monks or a getaway?

There was supposed to be some sort of coffin in a cave high up one of the cliffs. I thought it was this one, but - no coffin here!  If you go, listen for the legend and get the evidence!

There was supposed to be some sort of coffin in a cave high up one of the cliffs. I thought it was this one, but – no coffin here! If you go, listen for the legend and get the evidence!

Next post: Monkeys!