After years as a kind of understudy to Sìchuān, Chóngqìng is getting its moment in China’s spotlight.
While more or less ignored by the rest of the country since its glory days as the wartime capital, Chóngqìng’s development is now seen by Běijīng as the key to getting China’s interior up to speed with the east coast’s economic success.
Chóngqìng is being showered with money in the hopes the boom will have a ripple effect, lifting the mega municipality’s dozens of towns and hundreds of villages out of poverty.
It’s a tall order for a city of five million and Chóngqìng is going through a fascinating awkward stage. Old stilted homes cling to hills in front of gleaming skyscrapers and massive architectural projects. Stick porters loaded with goods trot underneath the soaring new light-rail system.
For travellers, it makes Chóngqìng much more than just a place to kill time before your Three Gorges cruise.
Perched on the steep hills overlooking the confluence of the Yangzi River (Cháng Jiāng) and Jialing River (Jiālíng Jiāng), Chóngqìng spends most days blanketed by fog. By night-time, however, the cloak is thrown off to reveal flashing neon and swooping spotlights.
A city ordinance against horns also means things are a lot quieter than in other Chinese cities. And with Chóngqìng’s rolling hills you’ll notice the absence of bicycles as motorbikes and cars fight for space on the city’s crowded streets.
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