2019 - CHINA

Country of Bridges

Our first trip to china.

We never really planned to visit mainland China, although if I was going to ever visit, the Yangtze River was on my hit list.

Our good friend May-Sue who is Malay/Chinese had moved to china to work there teaching school kids economics.   May-Sue invited us to Dongguan and we needed a holiday, so here we are.  Unfortunately 9 days is not long enough, but we certainly saw enough to entice us back for more one day.

As usual, I hit Google Maps and checked it out - Dongguan and the Yangtze River.   Ok, nearest airport to Dongguan is Guangzhou so that is where we arrived.   How to get to Yichang where we were to be picked up for the cruise? Ahhh..... Bullet train!  How exciting!   The cruise finished in Chongqing so that is where we flew home from.


The highlights for us were the 2 old villages that we went to, bullet train journey and of course the Yangtze River cruise.

Here are just a few photos to wet your appetite.



Next up - Dongguan, a Quaint Ancient Village, huge Shopping Mall and a Beautiful Park.





We stayed at the Pullman Forum Hotel in Dongguan which was a good choice because it is close to the subway and has a very nice park next door.  

The hotel was nice enough but they had a weird rule for swimming in the pool.  You had to wear a swimming cap.  How strange?  

If you stay here, don't waste your money on the buffet breakfast.  Too expensive.  We had brunch every day at the nearby shopping malls.

However we did have a very nice dinner here in a little room all to ourselves and waited on. That was special and the goose was delicious.



Qifeng Park was virtually next door and also where we caught the subway.  The day we were here they had a police presentation so it was a little busy.




Dongguan is China's industrial city.  We were not expecting it to be so big.  When I say big.   It was huge!  

This was to be our first taste of china.   This city seemed to go on for ever and it is not one of china's big cities!   We were impressed.

The shopping malls were huge too.  We took the subway train from Qifeng Park to the next stop at Hongfu Road and there was a big shopping mall right there.  One of the things that was cool was that the kids were well looked after.   They are mini cars outside and inside there were quite a few kids play areas.

They had some interesting food cafes as well - a train.   Yes in the shopping centre!  And another cafe that looked like you were eating in Paris.

No wonder why the Chinese love their shopping.   Just about every store had cute stuff that made you want to go in.

  There was an interesting looking Hotel called the Kande Hotel at Hongfu Shopping Mall. Looked nice.  If we come back to Dongguan we will stay here I think.



Generally speaking the restaurants and bars are usually located on the top floors whereas you will find the supermarket on the lower ground floor.   
Like Kuala Lumpur we saw that the supermarket also included a grog shop.


Next - an old Chinese village in Dongguan.





Nanshe Village was a highlight.   
May-Sue came and met us and we caught the subway from our station Qifeng Park to Chashan and then a Didi (Uber) to the Village.  Thank goodness we had May-Sue with us because as you will soon know, not many people in China can speak English.  I will give you some tips later on this.

Here is a map of the subway.


Nanshe Village was lovely. It was built around 800 years ago during the Ming and Qing dynasties.  The main drag had a stream running through with beautiful ornate shops, temples and houses each side.  We discovered the back streets that meandered through a labyrinth of architecture. 

 It was a fine line to stop looking up and around whilst videoing, taking photos and watching my step on the cobblestone pathways.  We were awestruck!



Through this alleyway we found a small shop where the aged owner was busy painting.  His paintings were stunning.

Such intricate work.  Hubby dearly would have loved to buy one but the price was a tad out of our range.




Just out of the blue.   Next door.  Was a Pub.

 May-Sue planned this right.  She knows us well.

   We took the little outside table, relaxed with a cold one and chatted to the Bar Manager who turned out to also be from Malaysia and spoke English.

We also learnt that there is accommodation here at the village.  The bar tender took us to one and showed us.



We stayed and enjoyed a nice dinner at one of the restaurants up another alleyway.   It had gorgeous views.

  Sorry, no pix as we just wanted to take in the smells, sound of running water from nearby fountain and Chinese banter from the locals.




 Our hotel had 2 weddings during the short time we stayed there.  The decorators certainly go all out.   Today as we walked out of the hotel grounds on our way to Qifeng Subway we were sad to see some of the beautiful roses from the wedding last night spilling out of a bin onto the footpath.


By now, hubby and I were experts at catching the train.  May-Sue helped Howie to buy our tokens.  It was a little stange to us to put our bags through a scanner every time we went to catch the train.  But that is a good idea.  


Hubby and I were on our own today so we caught the train to the next station Dongcheng and had a wander around.

Hubby decided to send the kids a whatsapp message so we found Macdonalds, got a coffee each and sat down to jump on the net.  Not a good move.  Yes they had the net.    But wanted a password.  Oh.

How do you put in a Chinese password on an Australian phone?

Notice the confusion on hubby's face.   How do I do this?   We gave up lol.


Across the road was a cute China Tea Shop.  My youngest daughter loves tea so we had to check it out.

I bought Janine a lovely china tea pot and 2 little cups.  We exchanged conversation using the shop owner's translation app.

**tip - download a Chinese translation app**

We asked for - noodles and beer.  The owner started to sign language directions and then said via the app that she will take us there.  How nice.

She shut the shop and walked us down the alley way, around the corner and down a back street to some small restaurants.  We were so appreciative and said thank you in Chinese.

Yes... We were slowly learning.


So we chose a small café with neat and clean tables and chairs.  Not too fancy like the one next door.  We were early for lunch.

It was amusing to us the looks that we were getting.  Obviously everyone was surprised to see us here at a tiny café in the back street in Dongguan.  Looking at the pictures on the menu outside, we were keen for a good authentic feed.

**tip - before you choose a place to eat, make sure they have pictures on the menu.  Some don't.**

I chose what looked like a mutton soupy noodle dish.  Totally mouth-watering!  Hubby got chicken and noodles.  Washed down with the local beer.  We were satisfied.

Sorry.... No pictures.

As lunch time approached, the place started filling up with what looked like office workers. More strange looks.

But from our yummy lunch to the obviously popularity of this place to the Uber eats guys forming a steady take away trade.  We totally enjoyed ourselves.

Yes, China has what looks like our Uber eats guys.  They role up on bikes, they wear the same collared shirts.   And btw, the logo looks like a kangaroo lol.


And talking about food, I did manage to find a foody picture.  This was taken at a brunch we had at Hongfu Shopping Centre.

There were no pictures on the menu - so May-Sue talked in her broken Chinese.

See the white looking dumplings mid-left hand side of the pic?  May-Sue showed us how to spoon it and pierce it with your chopsticks and suck the juice out before devouring the rest of the goodness inside.  I still remember how divine that was..... 
Ahhhh.... Heaven!

See the scanner bar code above?

This is another thing that we learned.  All Chinese it seems use weechat. 

  May-Sue encouraged us to get onto weechat before we came to China.   She told us that she could not exclusively use whatsapp.   We did not understand why.

We were soon to learn that whatsapp is not supported, Google is not supported and probably most other apps that we use.    Yes, we were naive to China world.

So.... We learn't that weechat is used to chat and also to pay for stuff.
Great idea!   Or is it?  Big brother comes to mind.   Mmmm.

Imagine wanting to go from A to B, pulling out your phone and scanning the bar code on an electric bicycle and off you go.   Amazing! 

Good idea!    Except this would never work in Australia.   

But I was amused and amazed at this here in Dongguan.   Bikes were left here and there.   Obviously ran out of gas.

I observed a couple of people do this and wow!   I reckon it's a great idea


Finding an ATM can be a challenge.

**tip - make sure you have China money as due to weechat, you will find it difficult to use your card anywhere.  So China money is important to have on hand.**

We used ICBC to take out our money the first time.  So we looked for this Bank when needed.


Our last night in Donguan was real nice.   We met May-Sue who took us to a Mexican Restaurant to the left of Dongchen Subway. 

We strolled for about 10 minutes to a nice pedestrian street or mall with European cobblestones and may-sue introduced us to Al Chili Taqueria Mexican Restaurant.

Ahh..... Heaven!  Quesadillas, Nachos, Coronas and Tequila Sunrises!    Ahhhh!



Sadly time to say goodbye to our good friend May and head back to our Hotel.

Next day we left early to Guangzhou for our first bullet train ride.

On the way we passed an amazing round building!  Only in China hey.   Looks like a big golden doughnut lol.

Next up - our first bullet train ride.




Bullet train ride.  A first for us.  What fun.

I booked our tickets through trip.com.  When you Google bullet train Guangzhou to Yichang, it's the first site that comes up.  Booking the tickets was really easy.  We booked 1st class. $200AUS each.  Pretty good for a 7 hour train ride I reckon.   And really worth the extra bit of money as there was more leg room and the seats were bigger being 2 abreast instead of 3 in the cattle class.   Plus it was quiet and included snacks, lunch and drinks like on Singapore Airlines.

I had our tickets delivered to the Pullman Forum Hotel in Dongguan.  That was a good idea. They arrived the next day after book in.   2 tiny train tickets in a big express post envelope lol.

First glimpse of Guangzhou City.   More huge buildings.

And another pic of that amazing doughnut skyscraper.

Guangzhou South bullet Train Station.

Looks like an airport hey.   There were 19 platforms!   Trains coming and going every 10 minutes to all parts of china.

We were again blown away!

Make sure you have your Passport handy as well as your ticket.  Same as for flying.  Thanks May for that tip.

**tip - Chinese people don't know how to do lines.  So be fore-warned. **

Think of the time you watched a herd of sheep attempting to get through the small farm gate opening.  That is how Chinese people do lines.  Actually, there's no line lol.

We had experienced this before at the subway when you have to put your bags through the scanner.   Talk about push in!   Even while I was taking my bag off and placing it on the conveyor belt.
So by this time, we were used to it.  

We just rolled our eyes and did a bit of pushing ourselves haha.


 Luckily we arrived early so it didn't really matter.  But there were some it seemed that arrived late.  3 people were running and jumping the queues, over the dividing railings and pushing their way through the crowds and through the end gate.  Gee!  

We rolled our eyes again haha.  😬

We were leaving off platform 18.  There was 18a gate at one end and 18b gate at the other.  We were not sure which one to go to so we decided 18a.  That was a bit nerve chilling.  But it was ok. The train was leaving off platform 18 anyway.

Again.  Lots of pushing in.  We still could not get used to people just rolling up and joining the line wherever they felt like it.  Like..... 

Hey dude!  I was here first!?  

When we got onto the platform and showed our tickets - the guide pointed towards 18B.   More eye rolls.   But at least we knew that we were going to board the right train.

Now for the painful bit!  We had no idea where the first class was.  We boarded the train in what looked like the cattle train.  So we just walked through a few carriages pulling our suitcases along and finally found a train assistant and showed her our tickets.  Great!  She walked us though another carriage and found our seats for us.

Strangely.   There was a guy in our seat and after a bit of a discussion, he moved to another seat.   As we were later to discover it seems that he, his wife and kid were scamming seats in first class because when we arrived at a couple of other stops along the way,  the same thing happened.   At one stage he stood up while his wife and child sat on an unoccupied seat.

That would never have happened here in Australia.  We were thinking that perhaps he gave the train assistant some money to shut up or something like that.   Probably.

So the train assistant put our suitcases behind the last seat and we sat down, exhausted and tried to relax.

8.10 am....... And we were on our way.

See the distance that we covered in 7 hours?  Wow!

The train reached 305km/hour.  We stopped at quite a few stations which was nice.  We were surprised that we got free food and drinks.  I did not know that when I booked the tickets.  I thought that there would be a dining car that you paid for your meals.  Nope.  The 7 hours passed by in no time.  I read a book and Howie snoozed.

We took some video.  Bit difficult doing pictures.  But I was able to extract some photos out of the videos.




And finally we arrived at Yichang East Station.
We were about to embark on our cruise to Chongqing.





We disembarked off the bullet train at Yichang East Railway Station and found the information booth just outside and showed them our cruise information.   We were early so sat down to wait. It wasn't long before more people showed up and finally tour guides gathered us together to walk to the buses.

Remember the mental picture I gave you previously of sheep being herded through a small enclosure?  Well this was 10 times worse!  Goodness, this was the epiphany of animalistic rudeness!!  There wasn't enough buses so the guide called for more it seemed.   And when more rolled up, we were pushed and shoved around.  It was quite traumatic!  I left hubby to deal with the suitcases whilst I quickly boarded the bus and found us a seat for us. 

   The bus ride took longer than we anticipated, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.   We were starting to get worried that we may have been on the wrong bus.   Not knowing the language.

Anyway, finally we arrived at Maoping Port and a few cruise ships awaited us.  A very nice lady kindly took my suitcase and said for us to follow her.   She turned out to be Nina, our Tour Guide.  

We went down the hill in a big trolley lift and walked down to our cruise boat.  There were 3 boats side by side and we had to walk through 2 of the cruises to get to ours.

Mmmm, different.


Nina showed us to a table and explained the set up of the cruise, meal times and included tours.  We were to meet here for the tours.  She also explained the other tours that you can purchase.  Every day there was a tour included in our package and another one that you can choose to pay for if you like.  We also ordered our massages and drinks upgrade package.

We had booked the president 8 with Yangtze.com.  I recommend them.  It was easy to book and good, efficient service.

We were then shown to our room which had a balcony.  All rooms on the cruise had a balcony. After making ourselves at home.  We headed up to the 5th floor bar for a pre-dinner drink.  We were to be regulars here and made friends with the bar staff.

Tip - the first dinner is not included in the price but we bought it anyway which was good because the table that we sat at ended up being our exclusive table for the cruise and was situated in the quiet restaurant on the 3rd floor away from the busy one on the 2nd floor.  We also had the same restaurant assistant every day - Ben.  Lovely guy.


We were to spend another day in port.  Today was our tour of the 3 Gorges Dam.

Now we had already experienced some of China's Cities with impressive infrastructure.  Even on the bullet train, every now and then we would pass a city with tall buildings.  But they were about to pale into insignificance when we caught sight of this monstrosity!

A few facts - the 3 Gorges Dam is a massive hydropower project.  It stands 600 feet tall and 7,660 feet long.   510,000 tonnes of steel was used to build it, that's about 60 Eiffel Towers.   Wow!  It generates 11 times more power than the huge Hoover Dam.

Unfortunately there is much controversy over this project.  For starters, 1.2m people had to be relocated.  The Yangtze River is very polluted and flooding is now a major concern.  Not to mention the lack of water and irrigation of down stream villages.

It was also nice to meet Nina our tour guide in our meet up spot, plus a couple of other single travellers, 2 young ladies from Canada and join another small group.  We were walked to our bus. No pushing and shoving this time.  Phew.


Time to Commence our Journey

Next morning we were woken by a loud putt putt sound.  Didn't think that this cute little boat could be so noisy.

But that was a good thing because we were able to check out the sunrise from our little balcony. So nice.

Then all of a sudden, we were moving.   So I took a video of us leaving on our way up the Yangtze River.   






This was our highlight on the Yangtze River.  We enjoyed this tour for a few reasons.

1. We got to see our first huge gorges.

2. We learnt about the people here who have resided in this area since.

3. We experienced unique traditions.

4. There was a stunning photography opportunity around every corner.


What a view!  After breakky, we met at our usual spot and were transported to a ferry for the trip up Shennong Stream.

Along the way we learnt about the ancient BA people who inhabited this area.  They were part of the 3 gorges dam massive relocation project.  These people had to be re-housed at a higher point as their villages were going to be flooded.

What a massive project!

Whilst you may say that it's nice that they got new houses and were introduced to modern living conditions with electricity and technology.   It was also important for them to keep their traditions.  Some of which I will explain as we go along.

This cave goes 5 miles.  But before the flooding it could have been a dry cave to walk in.  Now it is flooded.



There are 13 places where hanging coffins were place along the valleys of the Shennong Stream but only 3 coffins have survived.  These were buried about 2000 years ago. The BA people believed that the higher the elders were buried, the closer to heaven they were and more prosperous the family would be in the afterlife.

Looking up at this coffin, I was amazed at how they transported it up there.  Basically up this huge cliff face.  And that was before the stream was flooded!!!

We arrived at a spot where we got off the ferry and were assisted into small wooden boats called peapod wooden boats.  Kathy was our guide.  Kathy had grown up here and told us stories of her people as we rowed along.

Our wooden boats held 17 people.  Boat trackers propel the boats front and back.  There is a story behind the trackers.

For centuries before the dam project, boat trackers propelled the boats naked.  Besides rowing with their oars, they also had to jump out of the boats and pull them along when the current got too strong.  It was easier to do this naked as clothes would rub.  The only thing they had was special woven shoes to help to keep their grip.

Kathy explained that the BA people loved songs.  The trackers would sing songs to assist them row the boats.  We had a lesson in singing their song.  And then we all sang ours - row, row, row your boat.

They also sang songs to capture a mate. Once married it was for life.  The men would tend to the boats, hauling goods up stream and the women enjoyed tending to home, gardening, looking after their children and animals.

We had a little boat race and ours won!

This part of the journey was so much fun.  Howie and I purchased the book from Kathy which included a cd of their songs.  In the book is a feature picture of Kathy and 2 friends.  A treasured memory.


Back on the ferry we said goodbye to the trackers as they made their way up the hill and home.


Next - Life Aboard President 8 Cruise





Life on board the President 8 Cruise.

I chose the President 8 because it is one of the more modern cruises.  Plus it had a pool and the others didn't.  Well guess what?  We didn't use the pool because it is on the lower ground floor and the water was cold.  Plus there too many other things to do to keep us occupied.

This was the smallest cruise that we have been on.  But small is good.  We loved the personal attention from Nina our designated tour guide.  We loved having fun and banter with the bar staff.  Ben, our food attendant was so nice.  And the best thing was the daily tours that were part of our Yangtze package.  That is never offered on other bigger cruises we have been on.  I would recommend a Yangtze River Cruise on President 8.


I enjoy the evening shows on cruises.  That is when I can stay up long enough lol.  It's difficult when one is so used to getting up before 5am every morning to go to work and going to bed at 7.30pm at night.   Stuffed from a hard day at work and after cooking dinner, cleaning etc.

So the entertainment here was cute.  The cruise staff all had a part to play.   Dancing, singing and our Ben impressed everyone with his mouth boombox rendition.






We had lessons in Chinese, Chinese writing and Majong.  We also enjoyed a lesson in acupressure.

We learnt how to write our names in Chinese.  As you know, Chinese writing is like pictures and you are right.  The words were created from pictures.  We learnt how to recognise male, female, water and trees in Chinese writing/pictures.

We had a lesson in Majong with the Canadian ladies.  That was fun.  I picked it up straight away.  It is like our tile game Rummyking. I think that Rummyking or Rummyo is more difficult.

This is a picture of the most difficult Chinese word to write - Biang.


Cocktail time!  As hubby and I spent the extra for the full drinks package including bars and lunch/dinner.   I was going to make a big dent in the cocktail list tasting.  I think I did well.
Here is just a small sampling of the drinks I enjoyed.


Apart from us and our 2 Canadian lady friends, the only other overseas visitors were another group of Canadians who were on a 17 day china tour.  They were fun.  And we developed quite a fun banter.  

The first thing I remember was one of the fellas shouting out to me.
 ''Hey Sheilla'"    

Nah Dudes.  That is not cool.


 Paul Hogan has a lot to answer for!!  Dimwhit!

So this dude from Canada called me over and wanted to know what the male and female kangaroo were called.

huh?.... I just told him that I didn't know.  We just call them a roo!

Well that resulted in an eruption of laughter!!! 

 And we all enjoyed happy hour together for the remainder of the tour.
Nice guys.


So..... Back to my blog.

We departed Shennong stream heading towards Wu Gorge and the afternoon stop at white emperor city for those who had booked this extra tour.




Next up - last day cruising.



Last day cruising.

Morning coffee.


This morning we were heading for our last day trip to Shibaozhai Pagoda.  

It was very misty.

Shibaozhai Pagoda means stone treasure fortress.  It is a Buddist temple built in the 18 century during the Qing Dynasty.

The structure is 56m high and is 12 stories and was built without nails.  Interesting.


The walk up the hill from the ship was a bit demanding but I made it.

 We cruised during the low river season.   June to September is the rainy season and the water goes all the way up to those buildings you can see. Wow!

It's quite a little village here with the locals selling their food and trinkets.  They don't bother you too much when you are on your way to the pagoda but on the way back, it's a different story. More about that in a minute.

Our guide took us on a short cut and when we joined the path again, we were immediately halted in our tracks with this gob-smacking gorgeous view of the 3 Kings and the Pagoda in the background.
I liked this photo I took of 2 of the kings the best.

The Pagoda is located on an island and there is a rickety wooden hanging bridge to get there. On one side was a view to our ships and on the other side was a misty village view.  

Before the bridge were a number of Chinese Mythology Statues.

Ok, on the way back the hawkers were a tad more pushy.  I am glad that I asked Nina what no was in our Chinese lesson.  I knew it would come in handy lol.  You say 'boo shi' with the emphasis on 'boo' lol.  Or even just 'boo!' does the trick.

But I did stop at one stall to buy my eldest daughter a pretty silk scarf and little Jewellery jar.
Tip: do your shopping on the cruise ship.  I thought I would get the Jewellery jar cheaper and did some bartering.  Eventually got it for $120 yuan, only to find out the on our ship it was $100.

Oh well, never mind.  I got myself one too from the cruise ship.  I was still glad to help out the locals who were some of those to whom had been re-located due to the dam project.

Going downhill to the ship was much easier, however I was thirsty after all of that walking, so hit the bar on level 5 for a well earned beer before lunch.


During lunch the cruise departed on our way to the next stop for those who had chosen to do the extra tour that you had to pay for - Fengdu Ghost City.  We didn't do any of the extra trips.

So we enjoyed the afternoon at the bar, chatting with the bar staff and every now and then, going outside to take some photos.

I have mentioned before and will say it now, the Chinese are amazing architects!  The infrastructure that we have experienced here just blew our minds!!  The bridges!!  Cities with huge buildings in the middle of nowhere!  Unusual and magnificent architectural, jaw dropping super-structures!! 

 Bridges!!  Oh yes... I mentioned them.  Omg!!  There were lots of amazing bridges along the Yangtze river!

Not to mention the constructions on the side of the gorges that we cruised through.  Check these out!

See the photo above. Right in the centre on the picture on top of the smaller mountain is a building.

As you can see below.  I zoomed right in on my video camera.

A temple on top of the gorge.




Sad to say... It's our last day.

Tonight there was an auction.  Remember earlier on we had visited an old village in Dongguan and Howie had his eye on some gorgeous hand printed paintings of cherry blossoms?  Well guess what?......

Yep, hubby got this for a bargain! .... After bidding furiously against one of the Canadians.  It was all good in the end because the Canadian dude got the next painting of a tiger.


And so... The next morning, we slowly cruised into Chongqing and again.... The buildings and bridges!!  Jaw dropping!

What a fantastic trip!!


A special mention to the staff that made this cruise so special.  Without them, we would not have such fond memories.  It's not the cruise, nor entertainment, nor activities, nor day trips that makes a holiday.  It's the fun crew that is what people remember and why we recommend it.

So without hesitation, here are the wonderful staff that made this cruise such a fantastic memory.


Nina - tour guide and support throughout the cruise.

Ben - who always had a glass of wine ready on the table for me at lunch and dinner.

Elaine - our favourite fun bar staff and friend.

Aaron - super friendly bar staff with lovely smile.  And a great cocktail maker.



Does Anyone Speak English?!!


Ok, this was an experience.  Here we are in Chongqing (pronounced chongching) and it seems that in the whole city of 33m.   Yes you heard me - 33 million people live in Chongqing!  That's more than the whole lot of Australia and New Zealand!  


And no one it seemed spoke English. Now this was going to be a challenge.

So here is the view entering into port.  Again, so many tall buildings and bridges!

It was so nice and personable to be waived off the boat by our bar staff and the lovely Nina.  Big hugs all around.

Tip 1 - there are a number of stairs to walk up to get to the top.  And there are also a number of available helpers.

At a price.

But it is a good idea to have the helpers take your suitcases.  We had one guy that looked like he was in his 70's load up our suitcases either end of a stick, attached by ropes.  These guys are amazing!  Then I had another dude that looked like he was almost 80 attempt to assist me up the stairs.  I said no - 'boo shi' and number of times.  But then I gave up and let me help me.

Tip 2 - we were exhausted from the stairs and also from the insane pushiness from the helpers to gouge as much money as they could out of us.  That we jumped into the next available taxi and hit the road.  We forgot all about negotiating a price and when he said $200 yuan.  We just agreed.  That's $40AUS to take us up the hill about 7 minutes to our hotel.  Btw, we wouldn't have been able to walk it anyway lol.  And because of the traffic, it took probably about 15 minutes.

At least i was prepared with our hotel paperwork to show the driver.  Phew!

I chose The World Traders Hotel at the top end of Times Square Mall.  I chose this Hotel because it wasn't far from the port and was in the heart of a mall.  That was a good idea.  The pedestrian mall I mean.  However everything else was very bad.

This is the first Hotel that I have ever stuffed up on!  The staff were disinterested.  In fact other people pushed in, as Chinese tend to do.  And they assisted them first.  It wasn't until one kind Chinese man realised what was happening and pushed us towards the desk and said something in Chinese and then they assisted us.  No English whatsoever.

Our room was basic, still had 70's decor and had not fridge.  It had a lot of tea bags lol but coffee was scarce.

Mental tip - make sure I pack coffee satchels in my travel suitcase for such occasions.


Ok, check-in done.  We took a stroll down the mall to find a bank - yes!  CITIC... All good.
So where to get a beer?  We couldn't find a bar.  None to be seen.  So saw a restaurant with pictures of food and.... Beer!

And we hit the stairs and entered. Well this was a welcoming place to relax.  It wasn't quite lunch time but we had a nice view and we felt comfortable.

Tip - now this is where the beer photos on my phone came in handy lol.  Only trouble is that our bottles of beer were warm....? Noooooooo!


So some more sign language, hands around the bottle, sad face, shivering signs!  Happy face.
And then 2 more bottles, nice and cold hit the table.

Now Chongqing is well known for its hot pot.  I ordered something that looked good in the pictures and it was nice, but soooo hot and spicy!!   I was sniffling, crying and guzzling that beer haha.  But it was oh so good.

Hubby had a nice milder noodle dish so we swapped half way through.  It was a very nice lunch.


We really only had 1 and a half days in Chongqing so no time for any big day trips.  I was in a quandary because there were a couple of things I wanted to see that didn't seem too far.  I had attempted to get an English driver for the day at the hotel but they didn't understand English so that didn’t work.  I couldn't google.  So we had resigned ourselves to wandering around town tomorrow.

Tip - download a Chinese/English translator.  Also take pictures or print out places you want to see.  Or pre-arrange with Viator.  Or maybe ensure that your hotel has English speaking staff.

Guess what?!!  We heard someone yell our names. We turned around and there was Nina and some friends.   This was so weird and wonderful!   Nina was kind enough to write down in Chinese the names of the places that we wanted to visit.  Thank you so much Nina....

Our friend.  





Ciqikou, or Little Chongqing dates back to the Ming and Qing Dynasty (1368 - 1911).  It was famous for porcelain.

This little village with it's labyrinth of narrow cobbled stone streets lined with many different gift and food shops was a pleasure to wander around.



We were entertained by the noodle makers as they pounded the pastry with big wooden poles, then slapped the pastry through sieves - video to come. Howard had a go at it as well.



I was intrigued by the food on display - and just had to give some of these sticks a go.  They were cheap and very tasty.  I had tofu, some sort of crispy vege and octopus.  

You can see below the lady warming up my sticks of street food by ladling some hot spicy sauce onto them.  Then I was given them in what looked like a popcorn container.  Yummy.

Some food however didn't look that appertising....

There were nice souvenir shops.  I bought a cute rose coloured stone bangle and hubby and I bought a couple of quaint authentic Chinese paintings from this shop.


Beer o'clock.  

The locals knew what we were after.  We didn't even have to ask.  They just went to the fridge and pulled out 2 beers.  We said sheashea - thank you - and sat down in the shade for a well earned rest and a some people watching.



Whilst waiting for hubby to use the wash room, I took a video of a dog looking down the small alley way at a little cat stealthy walking up one step at a time... Both watching each other intently. The cat managed to make it to the top just as the dog lost interest and scurried away.



By this time, the little village was now getting quite busy so time for us to leave.

Btw, the taxi fare from the hotel which was just a little over half an hour was only $33 yuan.  Big difference from our 10 minute ride up the hill from the cruise ship to hotel that cost us $200 yuan!  Lol.




This place was located down near the cruise dock and down hill form our hotel.  It is stilted buildings with decorative ancient Chinese architecture built on the side of the mountain and overlooking the river.  Inside there are a number of floors with gift shops and restaurants.


We found a restaurant up top that had gorgeous views over the river so decided to enjoy the last day of our holiday over a long lunch and couple of cocktails.   A 2 piece band set up and I was amazed at the strong tenor tone coming from what looked like a young man of about 20?

 We watched some fishermen standing in the middle of the river and I also got a video zoomed right in and slowly out of them packing up and walking out. 





Times Square is a busy hub of an evening.  We could open our hotel window and take in the noise, smells and sights.  There was a lot of light play on the buildings too.  Pictures on buildings, coloured lights shimmering up and down.  It was quite a sight.  Our last night here, the Square held a modelling show which was popular.

We found a restaurant with nice food pictures so gave it a go.  Duck was nice but a bit too dry. We could make our own duck and vege rice paper rolls.  Then wandering slowly back to the hotel we also enjoyed seeing people selling glow in the dark stuff and teenagers wearing glow in the dark cats ears etc.  Cute.



So that was our first taste of China.    It certainly was a culture shock to us.  China is way, way more advanced than other countries in infrastructure, but strangely enough less advanced in other ways.
 However its people seem to be happy even though they do not have the freedom that we do.
We were talking about coming back to check out  the Hunan area with it's misty rock mountains, quaint villages, rivers and a massive bridge across a canyon that has glass panels.

But not now, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic which started in Wuhan, a place in the Hunan Provence that looked so cute… but obviously dangerous.  And especially since China seems to think that Australia does not like it any more.  And I think they may be right.  Hubby and I are not so taken with the idea of visiting China now.  The more we hear of the terrible atrocities that the Government does to its people, the more we are thinking of never coming back. 


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