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!

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Street Photography in Fengdu China – kids

The parents were teaching the boy to say a prayer.  He wasn't sure what he was being asked to do.

The parents were teaching the boy to say a prayer. He wasn’t sure what he was being asked to do.

She's done this before!

She’s done this before!

Did you know that when you look at the pictures you've taken in the back screen it's called 'chimping?'

Did you know that when you look at the pictures you’ve taken in the back screen it’s called ‘chimping?’

I love this photo even better than the one I was trying to get of them posing all over the statue before an official chased them off

I love this photo even better than the one I was trying to get of them posing all over the statue before an official chased them off.

The sweet young thing was waiting for the boys to get off so a parent could get a photo.  Perhaps it was the parent who chased the boys away?

The sweet young thing was waiting for the boys to get off so a parent could get a photo. Perhaps it was the parent who chased the boys away?

Next post: one last comment on Fengdu.

Fengdu Ghosts

In the previous post I introduced the ‘normal’ parts of Fengdu. You can read a bit more background on the Ghost City here and here.

Most of the popular landmarks in the City of Ghosts (Fengdu) have names that reference the afterlife: “Last Glance at Home Tower,” “Nothing-to-be-Done Bridge,” “Ghost Torturing Pass.” Covering the sites are statues and other artistic depictions of ghosts and devils — terrifying works that represent what happens to those who haven’t lived good lives after their’s is taken from them.   Is this the “Nothing-to-be-Done” bridge?

The tour guide told us that if married couples walked across the bridge holding hands, their marriage would last a long long time.

The tour guide told us that if married couples walked across the bridge holding hands, their marriage would last a long long time.

Is this for the burning of souls?

A heater? An incense burner?

A heater? An incense burner?

I haven’t figured out how to post pictures which, when clicked on, appear as a larger version in a separate tab. So you have to look closely to see that almost all of the people in this frieze are babies.

All I remember is that this was about praying for the souls of dead babies.

All I remember is that this was about praying for the souls of dead babies.

Not all aspects were morbid or obscure to Western eyes.  Perhaps the third photo below is of the two men who fled their other lives and founded this site.

A happy buddha like figure.

A happy Buddha.

....and some of his revered friends....

….and some of his revered friends….

Some of the "good' guys.

Some of the “good’ guys.

Again, I have no idea who this is, but I loved the hanging orange panels.

Again, I have no idea who this is, but I loved the hanging orange panels.

There were many painted scenes, sculptures and one horrific diorama of souls in hell that told of what happens to those who do stray from the path of goodness.  This sculpture shows a dragon and a serpent (and moss).

Detail in the middle of a set of stairs.

Detail in the middle of a set of stairs.

Scenes like this abounded in the details.

Scenes like this abounded in the details.

Next post: Still Fengdu – but ‘street’ photography.

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.

Chinese Bridges

A beautiful bridge spanning one of the gorges upriver from the Yangtze.

A beautiful bridge spanning one of the gorges upriver from the Yangtze.

China has a long history in bridge construction. The oldest bridge still in existence in China is the Anji Bridge constructed during the years between 595 and 605. Everywhere you go in China you see beautiful, functional, and often very new bridges.  The Yangpu Bridge in Shanghai was featured in an earlier post.

I first began to appreciate Chinese bridge building when reading Simon Winchester’s marvellous book about Joseph Needham. called ‘The Man who Loved China.’   Needham was one of the first westerners to recognize China’s scientific and engineering discoveries, most of which preceded western science by decades or even centuries.

When we travelled up the ‘three little gorges’ we passed under a very modern bridge (above and below.)

A closer view

A closer view

Structural detail.

Structural detail.

In Wushan, where our tour of the Three Little Gorges began, was another modern structure.

Another style of bridge, again with red as a prominent design feature.

Another style of bridge, again with red as a prominent design feature.

Bridge on-ramp and tour boats.

Bridge on-ramp and tour boats.

Structural detail.

Structural detail.

Lower down the Yangtze we passed this massive structure. The scale can be appreciated when you realize that there are people in the lower right foreground!

Is this a bridge? Well the overpass behind the orange structure is a type of bridge.

Is this a bridge? Well the overpass behind the orange structure is a type of bridge.

Recently China has been constructed many record breaking bridges.
China is currently home to the Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge, the world’s longest bridge measuring over 164 kilometres (102 mi).
The Xihoumen Bridge bridge in Zhejiang province is the second longest suspension bridge span.
The Sutong Bridge in the Jiangsu province is the second longest cable-stayed span.
The Sidu River Bridge is the highest bridge in the world.
The Chaotianmen Bridge bridge is the longest arch bridge span.
The longest sea bridge in the world is currently under construction between Macau and Hong Kong.  

A list of China’s bridges is here.

Next post: Urban development above the Three Gorges Dam.

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.