Friday, 20 February 2009

A Busy Day in the Misty Mountains of Chongqing: Part 2

With the sun set we left the boat and headed into the midst of the neon lit city. Chongqing was proving to be a surprisingly vibrant and interesting place and I couldn’t wait to see what was next.

We made our way to the People’s Square. Here thousands of locals gathered every night to practice Tai Chi and ballroom dancing. People were gathered as far as the eye could see in the relatively low lit square. Another difference between Chinese and Western culture struck me as I walked around. In the gloom I noticed numerous bags put to one side with no one watching them. You couldn't do that in the UK.

I walked all the way to back of the giant square and stood at the bottom of the steps of the convention centre. It was almost pitch black at this end and I soon hurried back when I noticed a woman entranced in sword Tai-Chi, twirling blades around her, clearly hadn’t noticed me and seemed to be heading a little too close for comfort.

Captivated by such a large public display of rhythm I stood and watched the thousands of people all having a good time together. It was amazing to think that in a city containing 32 million people there seemed to be such a sense of community.

After the People's Square came another type of square. We went to the main shopping district which is modelled heavily on Time Square. This was the only place in China that I came across the mass of neon that many people associate with Eastern cities such as Tokyo. It was filled with fashion shops and Western junk food places. Many of the group headed off for a burger.

I was more interested in just walking around taking in the lights. My girlfriend once again gave in to the lure of pretty tops and it was soon time to head back to the boat. Back on board we sat on the top deck. The giant neon buildings stretched along the waterfront. At 10pm all the lights in Chongqing are turned off to save electricity. As we watched each tower fall into darkness it seemed a fitting way to say goodnight to a remarkable city.

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