It’s funny how the simplest of actions can bring about drastic changes of direction in life. A marriage of fourteen years counting traces back to a casual evening’s hotpot with friends. Four years in Gyeonggi Province stemmed from an inspiring view of Korean television drama. This last week, a small comment on the iChongqing Facebook platform has led to a possible long term association with the Chongqing Daily International Department.
While I bring you posts about Chongqing with more of a personal touch, the iChongqing team covers a great expanse of topics such as news, economics, business, as well as travel, culture and history. You can visit their official website here at www.ichongqing.info
A lady by the name of Wu Xiao contacted me following a comment on Huangjuehu Alley, a traditional old street on Nanshan Mountain that I recently intended to check out after the Japanese spa, just a few kilometres down the road, only to be thwarted by the nightly throng of visitors.
We soon met in City Zoo (A local theme coffee house) to introduce ourselves and share our thoughts. As a stroke of fortune, the Chongqing Daily News Corporation happened to advertise for a foreign journalist this week, so the encounter finished with me applying online, and us filming a night river cruise from Chaotianmen the next day.
Some unforeseen family issues briefly threatened to derail my plan to navigate the notorious bottleneck of Huanghuayuan Bridge. While traffic over the bridge connecting Jiangbei CBD and Jiefangbei can be heavy at the best of times, the righthand lane becomes the exclusive territory of public transport between 7-9am, and 5-7pm. I needn’t say any more.
Once parked in Raffles Square, we waited for Wu xiao and her camerawoman at Pier 2.
The wintry climes made their full appearance starting yesterday, but despite the cold, drizzly rain, the mist that gives Chongqing the dubious epithet of ‘Wu-du雾都’ (Fog City) didn’t materialise, allowing us to film the sights throughout the evening, both aboard and on shore.
Here’s a small tip for you.
There are quite a few river cruise boats that sail every night from Chaotianmen, and tickets for most of the hour long trips up and down the two rivers have a face value around 160 yuan.
Unless you’re travelling during a national holiday, you needn’t reserve a ticket in advance. In the final half hour before each sailing, the touts begin selling them off at discount rates, often as low as 60 yuan. You can’t miss them, as they’re always yelling away at the top of the steps with ticket stuffed pouches.
After our first cameo riverside, where I described my previous night cruise experiences, along with the skyline additions going back five years, we headed briskly to the boarding vessel for the Man-jiang-hong满江红, where the manager offered warm greetings before ushering us aboard.
Manjianghong means Full-River-Red, and as the name implies, the decor is visibly Chinese throughout, be it the red swirl exterior patterns, the furniture, tiling, or the giant pagoda-like private suites on the upper deck.
Inside, there are locally crafted souvenirs with a distinct Chongqing flavour on sale. One that particularly caught my eye was a two half yin-yang accessory, with a side each for the dual red-white hotpot wok.
Further inside were a Chinese tea room, either side of which were a spiral staircase leading to the main entertainment hall. Here, passengers less fussed about the nightview enjoyed a series of folk performances, rounded off by a calligrapher who painted elegant brushstroke characters onto wall mountable scrolls.
Despite the wintry atmosphere, it must have been a near full house once we pulled away from the dock. There wasn’t a seat to be had, and we struggled to find a spot quiet enough to film our next scene.
The solution came when our resourceful camera lady enbolted the bridge-side gate, as Wu Xiao phoned the manager to ward off the displeased crew and security staff who immediately filed out to stop us. A few moments later, they relented on condition we kept to port and starboard.
We presented some more on film, posed for camera shots, then finally went separate ways to enjoy the remainder of the cruise.
The Cruise Route
The Manjianghong first sails up the Jialing past Qiansimen Bridge and the brilliant Hongyadong complex in the feature image. The boat then turns back past the Grand Theatre, before sailing by Chaotianmen and around two kilometres up the Yangtze.
There are too many sights to list, but other standout attractions along the breath-taking route include the Huguang Assembly Hall, the Yangtze Cableway, Ciyun Temple, and the Clock Tower of Nanbin Lu, just to name a few.
In all, the return trip to and from Chaotianmen takes about an hour. As we left the boat, crowds of passengers eagerly awaited the next sailing.
Tourists new to Chongqing should definitely experience the two river cruise by following my tips above, as the last minute discount price offers amazing value for this unique snapshot of the city skyline.
See also – My trip on the Dazhulin-Chaotianmen ferry along the Jialing River.
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