Chongqing--September 1, 2004--Chongqing Zoo, Art Research Institute, Stillwell Museum, Food Market, Hall of the People


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After our almost 400 mile journey on the Yangtze river, we docked in the morning at Chongqing and took a cable car from river level up to the city proper.  Chongqing is now officially the largest city in the world with a population of about 30 million but this is because the most recent calculation of its population includes a huge amount of formerly provincial land.  Before that occurred, its population was about 6 million.  Nevertheless, it is growing very rapidly because the Chinese government wants to establish a significant economic center inland and it is also a natural beneficiary of the Three Gorges Dam construction. One morning at breakfast in Chongqing, we sat next to some real estate developers from Shanghai.  While the real estate success of the 17 million person Shanghai seems obvious, the developers claimed they now saw much greater opportunities in Chongqing.  The city is building everywhere and even claimed to be developing the world's tallest building at one point.  A 17 station monorail is due to open in 2005 (184).


Chongqing is a very hilly city and, unlike most Chinese cities, it has few bicycles since motor scooters are much more efficient.  As a result, Chongqing is a manufacturing hub for motorcycles.


After docking and a rapid city tour, we proceeded to the Chongqing Zoo (185-203) where we saw Chinese pandas, red pandas and tigers.  Although the pandas were lethargic at first, a tour guide prevailed on a zoo employee to give them a treat, which seemed to liven them up a bit.


Next, we made a stop nearby at the Art Research Institute where we viewed various forms of Chinese art, heard a brief lecture (204, 206) and visited their showrooms.  At this stop, we also encountered several couples who had just completed the adoption of a Chinese infant (205).  These folks were from Denmark, but we met similar couples from other countries a few times during our China tour.


From the Art Research Institute, we proceeded to the Stillwell Museum, which was the former residence of General Joe Stillwell.  President Franklin Roosevelt sent Stillwell to Chongqing to assist the Chinese in their fight against the Japanese.  However, Stillwell and Chang Kai-shek did not see eye-to-eye on the real enemy (Chang thought the Communists were the real threat) and eventually Chang prevailed on Roosevelt to remove Stillwell from his post.  The Chinese Communists, no doubt, still honor him today with this museum because of his controversy with Chang.


From the Stillwell Museum, we traveled to a huge food market in the downtown and saw all manner of fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and meats (211-226, 228).  Nearby, we saw one of many baby carriers the Chinese use to transport infants (232) and also the Chinese system of diapers (or lack thereof) (227, 238).


Our final stop of the day was at Chongqing's Hall of the People, a building resembling the Temple of Heaven in Beijing (234).  It has a 4,000 seat auditorium and is about 50 years old.


Our hotel, like most of those we occupied, had all sorts of amenities.  The Hilton in Chongqing had a new item in the closet--gas masks (236).  These were supposedly for fire should it be necessary to evacuate the high rise hotel but perhaps they could also have been used for the area's pollution.  The view in photo 235 is from our hotel window and shows Chongqing Stadium.


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