We caught a taxi to our hotel and were given a room on the 27th floor. My ears popped in the lift and I had the feeling of vertigo being up so high. The fan for the airconditioner wasn’t working well and Maurice felt claustrophobic and spend a couple of hours in the Lobby in the middle of the night where it was cooler. The hotel was very appologetic and upgraded us to an even nicer room on the 23rd floor where we could also open the window if we wanted to.  A lott of the skyscapers in China have some windows that can be opened.

Three cities in this region -Yichang, Chongqing and Fujian are known as the “furnace of China” for the temperatures that go up to 43degrees in Summer with 90-95% humidity. This we experienced in Yichang which was a much poorer looking city and the air was oppressively still and it was extremely hot and humid.

The weather when we were in Chongqing however was warm with a lot of rain. We had to be careful as most of the umbrella spokes were at our eye level. In the lobby of the hotel they had a nifty machine that the bellboys thrust wet umbrellas into and they emerged with plastic wrapping. The hotel umbrellas were even better as they had a concertina type plastic covering which covered the umbrella when it was down and disappeared into itself when it was up.

 Chongqing district houses 33,000,000 people and everywhere you look either side of the river there are high rise appartment buildings, shops and spaghetti junctions and a lot of traffic.

The divide between poor and rich is more evident in Chongqing with a lot of men standing around the street corners with poles and their ropes ready to cart goods about the city’s pedestrian area. Jiefangbei which is an enormous shopping pedestrian area has only top of the range Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Armani and every other big brand name stores not only in large shops but in the many multi storey buildings. There are also countless department stores like “Parksons” with very expensive men’s and women’s clothing. In other areas there are inexpensive local markets where the clothing is not good quality but there is not much in between of reasonable quality and price.

The fashions on the street never cease to amaze us. A lot of the girls are obviously wearing expensive clothing and the latest form of footware – manily high platform shoes but they are not at all co-ordinated and the dresses are something that in the west would only be worn at night.

We have had an interesting time looking at the various goods available in the department stores and we found that things like stainless steel kettles and pressure cookers and other electrical goods are so much cheaper than in Australia and the range of products is staggering although with over a billion people and an every increasing middle class for them it is normal to have such a variety of goods and in such supply. Most Chinese carry thermos type insulated containers for their tea and there are whole shops dedicated to these in every shape, colour and size.

In Chongqing the next form of transport down from the taxi which carry one or two people are cute red little fibreglass vehicles. In the other cities they are usually made of aluminium with some kind of cloth covering.

We made the most of the day (as it poured non stop) by catching the underground which also became a monorail above ground to an enormous pedestrianish! area (I say “ish” as it looked like a pedestrian area all nicely paved with clocktowers in the middle of the square but every so often a car, bus or motorbike would be honking for you to move aside).

We went into a large department like store which housed many floors of every kind of mobile phone, tablet and computer. My second phone which I used for local calls had died and Maurice wanted a tablet which he could use to send his emails, surf the internet and read his books.

We found a booth where the three people staffing it were very friendly but had little English so we muddled through with google translator on their computer and a touch of English and Mandarin. We ended up buying both items at a reasonably reduced cost from their original quoted price and much cheaper than Australia and the the owner even accompanied me to the bank to get money. Maurice had been out in the rain and was unsuccessful after trying three banks which only took “Union pay” cards.

Many people on the street spoke more English here and were very willing to help us. The next day we ended up coming out of the subway by a different exit (there were at least six around that station )and everything in sight was foreign so I showed a guy coming towards us the shop’s card. He was very helpful and insisted on calling the shop as he didn’t know where it was and then accompanied us to the main square where I got my bearings. The owner of the shop had already come out to meet us as this chap had arranged that with him unbeknown to us. We thanked the man profusely and were really touched by his going out of his way to help us.

We found a place to get our laundry done and I found an alterations place in the department store to have some trousers altered (for $1). A nice receptionist from the hotel showed us down the road to where we could buy tickets for the fast train to Chengdu. We remembered the passports this time in order to be able to buy the tickets.

We went to another area in Chongqing called Chaotianmen which is full of department stores and little shops. We found the only mid range department store that we had seen. It consisted of about 8 floors – one whole floor was dedicated to lingerie. It would have supplied the whole of Australia!

We bought Maurice a very good travel bag which will replace the one he had – the old one went to a deserving person on the street who was going through the rubbish bins. The Chaotianmen district contrasted sharply to the very upmarket pedestrian area not far away.  It was a much poorer looking district generally.

There are the men and some women with their poles and ropes waiting for a load to carry looked exhausted and if they had no work they were fast asleep leaning against a post or a building. On the next corner were the motorbike couriers grouped together waiting for business.

The subway here is excellent as with all the subways that we have found here in China and they are always adding to the original lines or digging up vast tracts of the street to install new lines.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.