Chongqing, More Than A City

Skyscrapers rise like bamboo shoots in Chongqing.

-by Ernie Diaz

It has the population of Iraq, and the land mass of Austria. So calling Chongqing a city is somewhat deprecating, like calling the Grand Canyon a crevasse, or Australia a South Pacific island. Chongqing contains worlds,echoing through its many hills, veiled in perpetual mist. Better, perhaps, that most travelers just pass through on their way to the gorges, for Chongqing will overload their senses as surely as their leg muscles.

Huge and modern as it is, Chongqing still sees relatively few foreigners, who must be ill-bred indeed not to receive a healthy dose of southwestern charm.

No one knows what special blend of air, water, and chili oil makes Chongqing’s women so beautiful. If they did, it would be bottled and sold, and Chongqing would be richer than the UAE.

Chongqing has often served as a capital, most recently in the War of Resistance against Japan. Moist air and chlorophyll soften the ugly memories of Hongyang Revolutionary Hall.

No water, no life; no Jiang, no Chongqing. The Yangtze River has brought wealth, disaster, and everything in between.

This Daoist temple was first built in the Tang, and rests on Jinyun Mountain – the kinder, smaller, just as beautiful as Emei.

General Zhang Fei, hero of the Three Kingdoms, lost his head here in the river. Some loyal followers fished it out with a bag of gold, built this temple with the treasure, and buried the head in it.

The only thing less than magnificent about this miracle of karst erosion is its name, the Heavenly Pit. 626 meters around, 500 wide, and 660 deep makes for more than a pit. May we suggest “the Celestial Void”?

The Qutang Gorge finally gets some morning sun. The boats are rising with the waters and catching light earlier now, thanks to that dam project upriver.

In Chongqing, fortunes rise and fall like the river, like the place itself, precipitously. Bodhisatva the thousand-handed hears many prayers, this one from Baoding Mountain, granting mercy since the Southern Song dynasty.

What’s waiting at Four-Face Mountain? Why, the highest waterfall in China. Come for the 150-meter splash, stay for the eco-wonderland, a sea of sub-tropical woods, rare plants, and protected species.

What’s a Chinese destination without an ancient town? Gongtan, the western pearl, close and cozy on the western bank of the Wujiang, collected tribute from Hunan and Guizhou some 2,000 years ago.

Seems like there’s always someplace a little higher to climb to in Chongqing, but few higher than the Qianlong Bridge out in Wulong county, overlooking river and caves.


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