Yeah I’m behind. When you’re enjoying yourself and relaxing, blogging doesn’t come up too often as something that sounds fun.
When I got to Chongqing it was SO HOT and humid of course so it was a bit of torture just to get there. I arrived in the evening so I wasn’t about to go out again other than to eat if that was necessary. Usually hostels have food of some sort even if it’s a bit expensive.
When checking in, there was a gentleman there also checking in at the same time who was the first westerner I’ve seen since Chengdu. We chatted and introduced ourselves. He was Joris from Holland.. which was great because I was thinking about that dude from Game of Thrones.
Anyway, I dropped off my crap and got situated before heading out around 7pm to eat. I didn’t want to go out for food because on the way in, there was no obvious places nearby and the hostel was on floor 5 with no elevator and I was tired. I sat at the bar and first took some time to look though their tour lists and recommended travel spots.
As I was sitting there, Joris came out and sat next to me and we just chatted about ourselves and what we wanted to see. Since we were both solo travelers and he speaks no Mandarin, we agreed to hit up Wulong Karst National Geology Park the next day together. We ordered dinner there and ate together. He got a hot pot in a large size and didn’t realize how bit it would be so he shared it a bit, while I ordered some spicy Chongqing noodles. I could go for that now, it’s been too long. He ended up being a super awesome dude so it made my travel in Chongqing so much better and more interesting for his company, and probably safer, too. China isn’t particularly dangerous, but a lone female traveling alone can always be singled out as a target and it’s the only reason I prefer to not travel by myself.
The next day, we went together to the park, but while I wanted to leave around 8:00 or 8:30, he felt it was too early and said he preferred 9:30. I agreed because I didn’t think it would matter, but it ended up being much more of an effort to get to the damn place than we both thought. This is where the hostel kind of failed, they weren’t too good at advising as well as they could have. No mention of the amount of travel, 20 minutes to get to the bus station, 2 or 3 hour bus ride, another 30 min van ride, a final 10 minute bus ride. This was because the park is so big you need to get that final tour bus to each sight.
It wasn’t as conducive to just walking and hiking as we both though. That was a letdown and because of time, we only had time to see one thing. The thing is, in the mountains there is a GREAT, almost European-style town with hotels and hostels that would be a better bet so more can be seen and less time is spent traveling.
We opted for the 3 Natural Bridges because it was the easiest thing to get to and probably the only thing we would have time to explore and make it back in time for our return journey. A letdown, but at least I know and if could go back if I was ever in Chongqing again.
The 3 Natural Bridges were great though, to start we went down and elevator into the gorge and the 3 bridges would be overhead along with some spots where movies were filmed. I was annoyed they kept having random stupid Transformers crap because I guess some of the movie was filmed there, but it ruined the ambiance. Leave it to Chinese people to go nuts over stupid movie crap for cheap touristy photo shoots rather than leaving it in a more natural state. They also love to over-develop natural sights. While the Geological park was gorgeous, at times it felt like I was at an amusement park, not a natural park. Part of this is due to their population, it’s necessary to handle the demand to have the area more developed, but I think it’s also just the way they view tourism, vacation, and nature. They do the same with scenic spots in other places, there is no dirt hiking trail, only a stone-paved walkway that feels like a park stroll, not a mountain hike. So, so far, I feel like if I want hiking I should save it for a trip on the Appalachian Trail back home.
Again, that all said, it was still really nice. You can see for yourself!
The second day we decided to stay around Chongqing, because after all that running around, we were tired and didn’t want to wake up early. The second day we planned to visit the famous graffiti street which was done by the nearby university art students, passing Jiefangbei on the way which is the “Time’s Square” of Chongqing.
The irony of the square was not lost on me though, as the monument is a monument to the Chinese communist movement and like the people who died fighting for “New China” whilst being surrounded by the very essence of Capitalism with the Prada, Gucci, GIVENCHY, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Coach, and other hyper-luxury brands.
After a bit, we arrived at the graffiti street and the art really made the area quite unique and the old buildings that would otherwise be ugly and unremarkable, were full of character.
We found our way to “Weird Foreigner Park” (as described on the recommended places list at the hostel) but didn’t know what to expect. On TripAdvisor someone says something like, “less a park about what is ‘foreign’ but rather what Chinese people THINK is foreign”. I was thinking a place with shopping or cafes, but it ended up being freaking a hodgepodge of stalls selling food and swimsuits and some haunted houses and other cheap hokey thrills… all with a BAD 1950’s carnival feel complete with creepy-ass clowns. I didn’t take photos there as it wasn’t worth it. It was adjacent to a new, American-style waterpark that would actually be quite nice if you’re into that sort of thing. The searing heat was making me into that sort of thing but Joris wasn’t interested and I didn’t have my swimsuit or anything else with me that I would need for that.
The final day we had planned to see the Dazu rock carvings but I must’ve caught some kind of stomach virus because I woke up feeling really sick. I told him if he really wanted to go, he could go without me because I was in pain but I would wait an hour or two to see if it cleared on it’s own. It didn’t but it did subside a bit so we ended up going to the the train station. The way to get there was interesting though because we passed an old section full of shops and such along a hill.
We decided to not go after all because it was too late. The next bus wasn’t for another hour and it was another 2 hour trip. We were worried that we would face a repeat of the first day and not have time. Instead we opted to walk around Jiefangbei a bit and grab some beers and small snacks to try. We headed back to the hostel to rest a bit and agreed to meet up in an hour to go to the Porcelain Village which was another “Ancient Culture Town” of sorts that are all over China but this one I think is not old at all, just made to look old. Regardless it was still interesting to browse and I even found Indian roti there that was delicious.
Two last notable things that I don’t have photos of is that we went to a restaurant that was an old WWII bunker or something which was different and the food was great and we went to Hongya Cave which is a food area in the side of a steep wall. We at at the Harp Irish Pub which wasn’t bad at all, but is likely where I got sick because I started not feeling well later that night and the next morning.
But yeah that’s the gist.. On July 31st I got on a plane for my next destination, Bangkok Thailand, which I can say so far has been the best part of my trip because my husband was there with me. I’ll try to get that up soon!