Ice Cream Expo
3/29/2005, China trip day 6, Fly to Chongqing, park, start Yangtze River boat trip
We took an airplane to Chongqing from Hangzhou. It's a distance of 1306 km or 811 miles. It cost about $100 one-way per person. How did we choose Chongqing? Well, the price fit my budget perfectly, it was inland (a change of pace from Hangzhou), and it seemed to have more natural beauty than historical stuff that I wouldn't understand anyway.
In Chongqing, we headed for a park. I like parks. This park was on top of a big hill. Well, Chongqing is a big hill. The whole city is on a steep hill. Unlike the rest of China, there aren't many bicycles because nobody wants to ride up the steep hills.
There were some pretty flowers in the park. When I see cherry blossoms or any other kind of pretty tree blossoms, I have to think of Japan.
|Pretty flowers in Chongqing.|
|Pretty flowers in Chongqing.|
|Inside the park, there was some sort of celebration or event going on. I have no idea what they were doing.|
Throughout the park, we heard the sound of birds. But, we saw no birds. I imagined maybe they had a recording of birds chirping to set a nice atmosphere. Actually, it was more low-tech than that, but also more sophisticated. They had cages of birds hung all over the park. I might guess there were about 50 such cages with birds inside, just for the sound. Weird, huh?
|This guy just fed one of the birds. Now, he's hanging the bird back up in a tree.|
|Here's the bird hanging in the tree.|
|This shows the atmosphere of the park. It was a little cloudy.|
|These folks are playing Mahjong, a famous Chinese game played all over China, and often played in Japan as well.|
From the park, we went for a welk. No particular goal, but we were headed for the sea. We had to get down this steep hill somehow. We found ourselves walking down stairs of some apartment building with an entrance at the 10th floor and another entrance on the first floor. That tells you how steep these hills were. When we got to the bottom of that building, we went in another building and did the same thing. We went for quite a while by walking down stairs of various buildings. The buildings were old and felt unsafe. At one point, we saw bare electrical wires. Definitely not the USA or Japan.
|Here's a view from inside one of the buildings we walked down. We are looking down at a street below. My camera is pointed almost straight down.|
|The window I was looking out of.|
|Eventually, we reached the water. It was the Yangtze River. This container barge caught my interest because it is carrying a container that says "China Shipping". That's interesting because I see "China Shipping" containers in Seattle all the time.|
|David looking down at the river.|
|As we walked on and on, I felt like I needed some stimulus. I really wanted to shoot a gun. I started talking about it. Just by chance, we ran into this guy who would let you shoot his BB gun at some balloons for about 38 cents. You could shoot out about 40 balloons for that price. He was a nice guy, too.|
|First, I watched this guy. Then, I took a turn, myself. It was fun.|
|It was lots of fun.|
|In Chongqing, I had this green pea ice cream. David says it's green bean ice cream, but I think it's green pea. Anyway, it was good.|
I didn't think much of most of the ice cream I had in China, but some was quite good. I also had a corn-on-the-cob ice cream at one point. You definitely get what you pay for with ice cream. If I got the cheap ones (12 cents) they were horrible. But, if I paid more like 75 cents (a lot in China), they were like a Häagen Dazs bar with similar quantity and quality. But, ice cream in Japan and Malaysia is better. Sorry to any Chinese ice cream lovers who might be reading.
We didn't have any such plan, but we started looking at the boats going down the Yangtze River and wondered if maybe we could get on one. We found a place that did it, signed up, stopped at a grocery store to stock up on food, and we were on board a boat a couple hours after the idea came up.
The trip was 3 nights, starting at night, and finishing in the morning of the third day. So, really it was 3 nights and 2 days. Maybe 100 guests and 20 crew members on the boat. Just my guess. It cost about $50 per person for the whole thing. Plus, we spent about $8 each on 2½ days of food. Everybody on the boat was Chinese except for us. This was not meant for westerners. Without David's Chinese abilities, I believe it would have been impossible, or at least very frustrating.
|The boat is in the background here.|
|A sign I saw on the way onto the boat.|
As we got on the boat, David was racing up ahead of me. When, I finally caught up, David was in the room "negotiating" intensely with the staff of the boat. The room we got was very different from the pictures we had been shown. The carpet was absolutely disgusting. It may have once been white or yellow at one point, but it was a disgusting brown. Perhaps people had been spitting continually on it for 10 years. And, the room stunk. Hot, stinky air came up through the toilet and into our room. Our "private bathroom" was a joke. It was a very primitive squat toilet. You were supposed to shower while standing over the disgusting thing. I didn't take a picture, but I found one fairly similar at a web site about toilets of the world Anyway, David was yelling loudly at these people in Chinese. I guess yelling about stuff is the de facto method of negotiating stuff like this in China. It was an impressive display of his Chinese and his desire to get us a more comfortable room that better fit what we that we had paid for. I wasn't so viament about it, but I didn't argue either. Ultimately, they put us in a room with a better view and made sure we had no roommates, even though we had paid for a 4 person room that was supposed to have 2 roommates. The new room wasn't cleaner, but the extra perks helped us overlook the filth.
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