Chongqing and Chengdu are sister cities and they often compete with each other about everything, from their economies to their hot pots. Chongqing is a capital of bridges in terms of the amount and the varieties. It needs these bridges to connect people on both sides of the Yangtze River.
It’s also a mountainous city with beautiful skyscrapers. You can get a good view of the city from up in the mountain. Chongqing is also one of the furnace cities of China. When we were there, it reached 36℃ (with humidity, it felt like 41℃).
Chongqing people, especially the older generation, speak a dialect that was slightly different than Mandarin. It seems to be a mix of Mandarin and their local dialect. If you have just trained your ears to Mandarin, you will need to train your ears again.
Chongqing had the worst traffic so far we had seen in China. The roads were always congested and they were in all kinds of directions. Navigating your walk using GPS was also more challenging because of the high rise and the complexity of the streets. Strictly following the map application’s direction was a must. We often had to retrace our route because the streets were not connected.
Bus drivers in Chongqing, however, were the kindest one though. They had never hurried people up or down. However the bus could get really crowded, especially when it was raining outside. In the northern cities that we had traveled, the locals in public transits were kind to our kids and often gave up their seats for them. In Chongqing, however, we experienced no such good gesture. Is it a case of every man for himself due to mistrust in the society? I don't know.
In Chongqing, we stayed at Chongqing Lanque Boutique Hotel. It was located right above Paradise Walk (时代天街), the biggest shopping mall in the city. In terms of convenience, it’s unbeatable. However, it lacks that human touch. I still prefer the other places that we stayed before. However, when it’s 40C outside or pouring, you’d really appreciate its air conditioning.
Trust (Mistrust) between people
Our first experience of fake food in China happened in Chongqing. Calling it fake isn't entirely correct. It's rather a heavily processed fruit. We found it everywhere on the street of Chongqing. Initially, I thought it's a Chongqing specialty and bought a few to try. It was very sweet and was the same color throughout. I later found out that its color and flavor was all chemically processed. It was not recommended for consumption.
To me, it is a big deal that such fake fruits could be sold openly on the street. It means that people in the society had to constantly watch out for themselves or else they may be scammed. Such a small act can erode people's trust of the society.
Chongqing Lanque Boutique Hotel does not accept foreign credit card but they require payment upfront. When we first arrived, it was pouring rain outside and the receptionist would not let our family to settle in the room but insisted that I got cash from an ATM first. They did not realize that for a first comer to the city, getting cash from an ATM in short notice could be a challenge. After 30 mins of running up and down the hill in the rain, I got the cash and my family was let in. The experience certainly did not win me over.
When we checked out, this hotel was also the only one who went through the trouble and checked the room while we waited. I certainly felt that I was not trusted in this city. While you’d think that the hotel was only doing their job, they seemed to only care when it came to their own interests. Unsolicited and inappropriate advertisements were slipped into our room every morning.
Anyway, when I left, I felt relieved, not just from the heat and the chaos but also from its people. I didn’t feel this city could be my home in the future.