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I have to admit I was initially quite impressed with Beijing. This is mainly because Beijing looks so very Chinese, in a clichÃ© kind of way. There are still so many traditional, old buildings all around Beijing, which gives one the impression that the city is filled with interesting history. This is the complete opposite of most northeastern Chinese cities I've been to, which have practically no traditional buildings anywhere. Of all the Chinese cities I've been to, I would say Beijing is the most appropriate for anyone planning to come to China for tourism purposes.
There are countless tourist sites to see in Beijing: Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Olympic Bird's Nest Stadium, the Badaling Great Wall (八达岭长城), and so on. I went to all of the above and I would have to say the Badaling Great Wall was my favorite. It didn't blow my mind or anything, but it was a pretty neat and unique place. I heard horror stories of how crowded Badaling can get, but there wasn't really that many people there during my visit, and 90% of them wouldn't climb to the top of the wall (which requires quite a bit of steep stair climbing). On the other hand, every other place I listed above was freakishly crowded with hordes of mostly Chinese tourists. Let me say this: Chinese tourists are very unpleasant to be around. Constantly getting into my shots (photos), bumping into me, hocking up loogies, talking loud as hell, and so on. All of those horror stories you heard about Chinese tourists are true (and about Chinese mainlanders in general).
Another nice thing about Beijing is that I felt way less like an outsider there. While Beijing's got nothing on Bangkok in regards to international tourism, there's still a noticeable amount of foreign tourists all over the city. Instead of getting the unwelcoming stares I often got in the northeast, I found more people just giving me a quick second glance, rather than a full-fledged, obnoxious stare. Admittedly, many people still stared at me, but nowhere near the frequency that I got up in the northeast. I also noticed several women giving me the "I like the way that guy looks" kind of stares. That's always a refreshing, confidence-increasing feeling for a man. I also got a lot of those positive looks from women in both Shanghai and Dalian, but very little in Harbin or Mudanjiang.
Beijing did impress me in regards to its women. It didn't beat Dalian, but I would say it's my second favorite place to look at women in China so far. The best looking women I saw were around the office areas - tons of women dressed to impress on their way to the office. I would imagine there's lots of dating opportunities for foreign males in Beijing. Regardless, I've heard countless times that Beijing women don't make good girlfriends and are overly materialistic. I cannot verify that, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if it's true. Honestly, the same could be said about many other major metropolitan areas all over the world - this is not unique to China.
Beijing cuisine is not all that bad - it's at least better than northeastern Chinese cuisine. I ate Peking roast duck twice over my 7-day stay in Beijing, and both times I thought it was pretty good, but not spectacular. It's tasty, but definitely overrated and not really worth its price. Just as I had expected, there's also countless other regional Chinese cuisines available in Beijing. I found myself mostly eating Xinjiang noodles and Sichuan dishes. If you haven't figured it out already, I strongly prefer Xinjiang and Sichuan cuisine over any other regional cuisine in China. In my opinion, those two cuisines are the only two that could pass muster to more internationalized palates.
On the downside, Beijing is relatively expensive. It felt like the most expensive city I visited on my entire trip (almost equal to Shanghai). I paid over 20 yuan for practically every meal I ate, and hotels in Beijing are a bit too pricy. I stayed at a Home Inn that's down a random street and is about a 10-minute walk from the Jianguomen (建国门) subway station. The room was medium sized, but nothing too fancy. The price per night was 228 yuan, and that's after getting 17% off with my member card. Compared to Dalian and Harbin's 100 yuan per night rooms at Home Inn, it's easy to see that Beijing is more expensive.
Another massive downside to Beijing is its atrocious air quality and traffic problem. I've never seen more traffic jams in China than I did in Beijing, and I've never seen air (in the entire world) as bad as I saw in Beijing. I admit, it's not like walking into a post-apocalyptic war zone or anything, but it's still pretty damn bad. The air looks hazy and dusty with not a cloud in sight. I constantly kept thinking to myself: "it cannot be good for this nasty air to going into my lungs day after day." Actually, I only saw a few days of clear skies in my entire month in China, but Beijing is undoubtedly the worst. Just the dirty air alone is enough for me to never consider Beijing as a place to live.
Another bad thing about Beijing and many other Chinese cities is how aggressive the people are. Their pushy body language, their harsh tones and loud way of speaking, their aggressive way of walking, their extreme impatience, their appalling customer service - China is a place that wears down even the most seasoned travelers. It gets annoying dealing with such rude and aggressive people day by day. Just walking around in any city in China, I constantly feel like people are about to walk into me and knock me over. I've never had this feeling in any other Asian country. I've traveled to many countries, and the people in those countries never even come close to being as rude as the typical mainland Chinese. They're in a league of their own.
In regards to transportation, Beijing is very well-connected, but in typical Chinese style, everything is overcrowded and unpleasant. The subway is very extensive, has countless stations, and only costs 2 yuan per ride, but just like in Shanghai, taking the subway in Beijing is a nightmare. It didn't matter what time I used it, early in the morning or super late at night, the subway stations were all always maxed out with people. Chinese people push very hard, smell bad, talk loudly, and make the whole experience unpleasant. Even when the subway is crowded in Bangkok, the locals don't do anything to make the experience any more unpleasant than it has to be. Not so in China. Needless to say, I recommend avoiding the subway as much as possible. I absolutely hated every minute of using it. Just look at the photo below. Does that look like your idea of fun? On a positive note, the buses in Beijing were fairly decent, and much bigger than most of the buses in northeastern Chinese cities.
Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I met both Bao3niang and magnum in Beijing. I met up with Bao3niang at the Forbidden City, and we eventually made our way to a Peking roast duck restaurant. Bao3niang is quite young (17 at the time I'm writing this), but he still has a very realistic, non rose-colored glasses outlook on Chinese society. I'm quite surprised and impressed the things he knows about Chinese society at his age. I sure as hell didn't know that much about American society when I was only 17. He also seems to be obsessed with Vietnam, but I'm afraid if he's wanting to escape China and its "negative" culture, he certainly shouldn't go to Vietnam, because China and Vietnam have tons in common in regards to culture.
Magnum joined us later the same evening, and we ironically returned to the exact same Peking roast duck restaurant and ate the exact same meal all over again. I was quite impressed with magnum. He turned out to be a little different than I had expected, and I mean that in a very positive way. He's well-composed and has polite body language, he takes care of his appearance and his body, he has a realistic outlook on life, he seems to have a lot of life experience, and he's a guy who seems like he works hard towards fulfilling his dreams and goals. I think he's got what it takes to live a successful "happier abroad" lifestyle. He seems like the opposite of the typical Western douche-bag one often runs into in Asia. I felt like him and I vibed quite well with one another. Hopefully I'll again see both magnum and Bao3niang in the future. Good luck in Chongqing, mag.
Conclusion: Beijing is probably one of the best Chinese cities one could travel to in regards to sight-seeing and getting a feel for what China is. There's tons of places to see, things to do, and food to try. Beijing largely fits what Americans envision China looking like. However, Beijing is a massive city that can overwhelm newcomers. It's well-connected in regards to public transportation, but most of it isn't very comfortable. The subway system is not for the faint of heart. Beijing has decent local cuisine and tons of other regional Chinese cuisine, as well as a modest amount of foreign restaurants. There's plenty of good-looking and fashionable women in Beijing, but not quite to the extent I noticed in Dalian. Beijing seems like a great place to date and play around, but not a great place to find Miss Right. The air in Beijing is some of the worst in the entire world and is very concerning. Beijingers, while still quite rude and aggressive, don't seem quite as xenophobic as their northeastern Chinese counterparts. If you're a tourist wanting to see China for the first time, I think Beijing would be a great place to start. Beijing is riddled with problems, but it does have some "Chinese charm" that is almost non-existent in northeastern Chinese cities.
Note: Unfortunately, due to not having enough days left on my Chinese visa and other personal reasons, I had to cut my trip in China short. I didn't get to see Shenyang, Chengdu, or Chongqing. The total amount of days I spent in China on this trip is 32, and I went to five cities during that time. Not bad at all, I think. There's a very good chance I'll wind up in China for a trip again next year. If I do, I want to spend my entire trip in the south. I've seen plenty of the north, and I'm very curious how the north and south compare. Anyways, I'm now in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I will also make my way back to Penang (see my previous trip report here), then on up to Phuket, Thailand, and then finally back to Bangkok. It's been one hell of a trip to say the least!
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Thanks for the superb trip report Everdred!
I'm in rural Yunnan now, having some wild adventures.
That I completely agree with. Vietnam is still in the Sinosphere culture zone, but is a watered-down version of it, since it's where NE Asia and SE Asia intersect. For example, Vietnamese people are generally more laid-back about work, and you'll often find restaurants saying they don't have anything left, which is the very opposite of what most restaurants in China do.
Like Baoniang, there are many "negative" things about Chinese culture that Winston and I also don't like. The Philippines and Indonesia, and other SE Asian cultures, seem to suit us better, and perhaps Baoniang should give those a try.
NE Asia zone: China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Vietnam
SE Asia zone: Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Malaysia (non-Chinese)
Baoning: My uncle in Korea is married to a wonderful Vietnamese women for more than a decade; they have two cute kids as well...
She speaks good Korean now, while back then, when they first meet, she spoke very bad Korean. So, a Vietnamese women might be just the type for you, Baoning.
I'm in Korea right now, so I'm meeting all my family members that I haven't seen in a few years. So far, I like South Korean way more than China, haha...
Even though South Korea is materialistic--like China--the people there are more polite and more respectful of each other than the Chinese (who treat each other like sh*t...)
South Korea looks just like America now, smh...amazing when you consider how poor the country used to be...
Here are some photos of the food I ate over my month long trip in China earlier this year, as well as some throwback food photos from when I was living in Dalian (2009 - 2012). Of course they were all taken by me. Enjoy!
臭豆腐 - stinky tofu - for sale on a random 胡同 (alleyway) in Beijing.
北京烤鸭 - Peking roast duck - Beijing's specialty dish, served at the famous Quanjude restaurant in Beijing.
Harbin Beer served at an all-you-can-eat buffet in Dalian.
Flower River Beer, Mudanjiang's locally made specialty beer, served with some lamb kebabs.
A Whopper Jr. with cheese served at Burger King in Harbin. It tasted 100% the same as its American counterpart.
Noodles served at Mr. Li's California Beef Noodles, one of China's ubiquitous local fast food chains.
Barbecue kebabs, which you grill yourself, served at a restaurant in Mudanjiang.
Spinach enchiladas served at Real Eddie's Restaurant in Dalian. Some of the only Mexican food available in Dalian!
小笼包 - mini steamed buns - served at a restaurant in Mudanjiang. These had shrimp filling.
鱼香肉丝 - garlic flavored pork strips - served in Dalian. This Sichuanese dish is a favorite of both Chinese and foreigners.
Spicy peanuts found at a convenience store in Dalian. This was one of my favorite everyday snacks when I lived in Dalian.
Roasted sweet potatoes sold by a street vendor in Dalian. One of the healthiest snacks you can find in northeast China!
I'm not sure of the Chinese name, but my girlfriend always calls these "Korean wraps." Meat, lettuce, and mayonnaise rolled into an egg wrap.
A meal cooked by my girlfriend's family in Mudanjiang for Chinese New Year.
A meal cooked by my girlfriend's dad in Mudanjiang, but this time it wasn't for Chinese New Year.
Handmade beef noodles served at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Mudanjiang. Cheap and delicious!
Barbecue squid served on Dalian's Xinghai Beach.
I miss Harbin beer. It was torture living in Thailand for 6 months and have nothing to drink but Chang, Singha or Leo.
McDonalds burgers taste better in England than they did in Asia - must be our superior grass.
More food pics:
Xingjiang-style lamb and potato noodles served at a restaurant in Beijing.
More Xinjiang-style lamb and potato noodles, but this time served at a restaurant in Mudanjiang.
Xinjiang-style naan bread served at a restaurant in Shanghai. This is one of my all-time favorite Chinese foods. They usually only cost a few yuan.
An ethnic Uyghur man preparing some liver kebabs at a restaurant in Mudanjiang.
Jujubes grown in Xinjiang available at a morning market in Dalian. I absolutely love this fruit!
Grab-and-go kebabs for sale at a Family Mart in Shanghai.
Lunch at 喜家德水饺 - a ubiquitous chain of dumpling restaurants in China - in Dalian. This is one of my favorite chain restaurants in all of China!
Another 喜家德水饺 pic taken in Dalian, but this time for dinner... 3 years later.
冰糖葫芦 - fruit on a stick coated with crystallized sugar. These can be found almost anywhere in China, and they're a classic with kids. This photo was taken in Shanghai.
More 冰糖葫芦, but this time in Harbin.
A brick of soft hawthorn candy purchased from a convenience store in Harbin. I love any candy made from hawthorn!
Lunch at Shengli Square, the massive underground shopping mall in Dalian. I ate this kind of lunch very often on my first visit to Dalian.
"Chinese hamburgers" and grilled tofu for sale on a small side street in Dalian. Very tasty stuff!
Lunch at a random restaurant on the outskirts of Mudanjiang.
Heated arguments in public, putrid restrooms, getting watched like a hawk everywhere I go, an endless honking of car horns, overly loud voices - yes, I'm back in mainland China, for 28 days this time. My journey began in Changsha, then I moved on to the mega metropolis of Chongqing, now I'm in Chengdu, and my trip will end in Kunming. This time I'm thoroughly exploring southern China, as the majority of my previous China experience has all been in the North. Will the South prove different from the North? I've always thought the North is quite "rough around the edges." Read the rest of my trip reports to find out what the South will entail.
Changsha is the capital of Hunan province, and according to Wikipedia, it has a population of just over 7 million people. That makes it a solid second tier Chinese city. My knowledge of Hunan province and Changsha prior to my visit was nil. Back in Arkansas, where I hail from, there seems to be a lot of Chinese restaurants with the word "Hunan" in their title. I had heard that Hunan cuisine is apparently spicy, but I had never eaten it before. I had also heard that Changsha is famous for it's stinky tofu. So how did Changsha turn out?
Let's start with the Happier Abroad biggie - the local women. I was in Changsha a full seven days, and I can say for sure that the local women didn't strike me as anything special. I mean, it's China - you could throw a rock in a crowded public square, and hit several cute girls, but you could do that just about anywhere in urban China, right? Both my Chinese girlfriend and I agreed that Changsha fashion was kind of ugly and hickish. The local girls really don't have a good sense of fashion, very much unlike their Dalianese sisters to the north and their Chengdu sisters to the West. On the plus side, I noticed myself getting that look of approval from young women whenever I got near the city center, which is always good, but I still wasn't impressed with the ladies. The best looking woemn I saw were around Wuyi Square (五一广场) at night. All in all, I wouldn't recommend going to Changsha if finding a Chinese beauty is on the agenda. However, I also wouldn't advise against it. I just think the beauty ratio is much higher in other parts of China (i.e. Dalian).
The local Hunan cuisine didn't strike me as anything special. Many of the dishes consisted of overly oily food served in a dry stone pot (干锅). Sure, some of the food was tasty, but practically every dish I ate was drowning in cooking oil, which I really don't find necessary at all. Also unlike northeastern China, I didn't really enjoy the local chain restaurants nor the snacks I came across on the streets of Changsha. I love many of the chain restaurants and street snacks up in the northeast, so that's a bad sign. Changsha's steamed buns (包子) were just about the only thing I liked, but even those were sub-par compared to the Taiwanese and northeastern varieties. I also found the "spiciness" of Hunanese cuisine to be a little on the cheap side. Let me explain. When I eat spicy food, I like every bite of the food to be equally as spicy as the bite before it. The spiciness should be evenly distributed (think of spicy chicken wings). However, with Hunanese food, it seemed the only way the food would be spicy is it you accidentally bit into one of the chili peppers in one of your bites. Some bites had them, while other bites didn't. The bites that did have them were overly spicy, but the bites without them were weak. Imagine if your were eating spicy chicken wings, and one bite was so hot it almost blew your head off, then the next bite was mild and not spicy at all. Are you catching my drift on why I don't like this? Anyways, the food in Changsha kind of sucked, and I doubt I'll ever specifically search for Hunanese cuisine in the future. It wasn't terrible, but it was below average to my tastes. I'd take Sichuanese cuisine over Hunanese any day.
The local people in Changsha were extremely hickish, and many even looked inbred. My girlfriend and I were constantly pointing this out to each other. She thought it even more than I did. One MAJOR problem in Changsha is the absurd amount of electric motorcycles that drive on the sidewalk. Get ready to constantly move out of the way for them, because they are anywhere and everywhere, and they never stop coming. The sidewalk is literally like their road, and they will constantly honk their horn at you to get out of their way. I know this exists in other parts of China and Asia, but trust me when I say it's particularly bad in Changsha - actually the worst I have ever seen in my life. The city really needs to get their act together on this. Another thing about the locals is I got stared at HARD by anyone and everyone no matter where I went. I've never been more stared at anywhere in my entire life. I've been around the China block, so that's saying something. If you're a Caucasian foreigner in Changsha, kiss your privacy goodbye the second you walk out your door, 'cause you're not going to have any whatsoever when you're in public. However, on a positive note, I didn't get much of the evil eye that I always get up in the Northeast, especially in Heilongjiang province. Most people looked at me with their mouths open or with a smile, which is a bit refreshing. It didn't seem like people hated my presence, rather they really felt like they had stumbled upon an alien from outer space. To sum up: the people weren't too prickish like up North, but they did seem mega dumb, poorly educated, and backwards.
The size of Changsha is medium - it's neither too big or too small. It's a solid second tier Chinese city, which is what I like. Taking local buses is probably the best way to get around (usually only 2 RMB), and most casual taxi rides wouldn't exceed 25 RMB, unless you're going super far. The city also has a new subway system, which opened in 2014. It only has one line at the moment, but the subway was actually quite pleasant and efficient, totally unlike the extreme discomfort found in the Beijing and Shanghai subway systems. The city of Changsha itself is quite ugly and drab. It's on up there in the ugliest cities I've ever seen in my life. The buildings are drab, lifeless, colorless, and broken down, and the sky is in a constant yellowish-brown haze. However, the night does definitely come to life after the sun goes down. Changsha is dull as can be during the day, but at night it seems moderately interesting. Apparently Changsha is famous for its nightlife, as several Chinese have told me, but I'm not really a nightlife guy, so I don't have much to say in regards to that topic. All I can say is save most of your energy in Changsha for the night.
Changsha was quite an uninteresting and boring city overall, but there were a few activities I semi-enjoyed. My favorite was spending an afternoon walking all the way down Orange Isle (橘子洲), a small island located in the middle of the Xiangjiang River, which splits Changsha into two sides. The island is very scenic and not too crowded assuming you go there on a weekday rather than the weekend. You can easily get to the island via the subway. At the southern tip of the island is a tacky statue of the head of a young Mao Zedong. Nonetheless, by walking down the island, you get to see the most scenic riverside areas of the city, so make sure you bring your camera along with you. I also had to pose with several random people who wanted to have their picture taken with me for no reason, haha. The other activity I enjoyed was walking around downtown at night. There are a few walking streets that serve all kinds of snacks, most of which I don't like, but it's the area all the "hip" young people like to go to on their Friday and Saturday nights. The final activity I semi enjoyed was going to Martyrs' Park (烈士公园). China tends to do its parks better than most other countries, so I always hit up a park or two in every city I visit. This particular part was fair - good by global standards, but average by Chinese standards.
To summarize, Changsha is a pretty drab city during the day, but a bit more interesting at night. Either way the city is still rather unimpressive overall. The locals seem extremely hickish, even by China standards, and the women don't stand out in any unique or positive way. The local snacks and cuisine are both below average, and finding other regional cuisines didn't seem as easy as it is in the Northeast. Foreign restaurants were extremely sparse. The city is ugly as sin for the most part, but it does have some decent areas to stroll about (i.e. Orange Isle And Martyrs' Park). I was extremely unimpressed by Changsha overall, and I doubt I'll ever go back. It just really didn't have much going for it. The next stop on my journey was Chongqing, which I'll post a report on in the next week or so. Let me foreshadow by saying Chongqing is one of the worst places I've ever been in my entire life, haha. But I'm quite loving it here in Chengdu!
Always good to hear about HA meetups.
We are the few... the happy few" - Will Shakespeare
And glad Magnum is still around... still kicking... and perhaps still...
"Well actually, she's not REALLY my daughter. But she does like to call me Daddy... at certain moments..."
Once again excellent Everdred thanks, great pictures, very artistic.
I was asking about Changsha the other day in Winston's China thread.
What you mention is interesting since i mentioned some of the hottest girls on the dating sites are [supposedly] from Changsa.
I wonder how hickish they really are, the ones in the pics seem alright. I mean, you were there, but the buildings look modern or whatnot.
But anyhow, it still sounds to me like the perfect second-tier city to be exotic for the girls, I'm sure they haven't seen many foreign dudes.
And I would think they're pretty authentic too.
1)Too much of one thing defeats the purpose.
2)Everybody is full of it. What's your hypocrisy?
All I can say is Changsha was way too backwards and hickish for my tastes. I've been to quite a few places in China now, and Changsha was one of my least favorite. The women didn't stand out in any positive way whatsoever. Maybe I was constantly at the wrong place at the wrong time, but somehow I doubt it. Also bear in mind I was in Changsha an entire week, and I was scouring the streets that whole time. And as a street photographer, I like to think I'm more observant than the average Joe, so take that for what it's worth. I genuinely have no desire to ever return to Changsha or Hunan province - yes, it was that unremarkable in my eyes.
I didn't have a very good time in Changsha, but did Chongqing prove more promising? Prior to my arrival in Chongqing, all I knew is that the metropolis formerly belonged to Sichuan province, but now it's one of China's four non-provincial municipalities. I had also heard that Chongqing is extremely dense, and of course I'm familiar with Chongqing hot pot, one of China's "finer" cuisines. I also had a reunion with former Happier Abroad poster magnum (more on that later). So did Chongqing lift my spirits after leaving crappy Changsha? The answer is a resounding NO! Chongqing is literally one of the worst places I've ever been in my life, and of course the worst place I've ever been in China. Let me explain why...
Let's start with the food. I've always assumed cities like Chongqing and Chengdu would be home to some of my favorite Chinese dishes. Besides, Sichuanese cuisine is one of the only Chinese cuisines I like, alongside Xinjiang cuisine, so surely Chongqing would be a food heaven, right? No, not all all! I first need to reiterate that the snacks in southern China suck pretty bad. The baozi, lamb kebabs, and naan bread are all sub-par, tanghulu are few and far between, roasted sweet potatoes almost don't exist, and Korean wraps literally don't exist. These snacks are what I constantly have in my hands any time I'm walking the streets of northern China, but the South just disappoints again and again. So what about the local restaurant cuisine? Well, do you like hot pot or ma-la (spicy and mouth-numbing) rice noodles? Well I hope so, because that's seemingly 80% or more of what the locals in Chongqing eat. Sure, I don't mind hot pot on a cold winter night once every month or so, but every day in April? No thanks. And hot pot really isn't one of my favorites in the first place. And in typical mainland Chinese fashion, you can be assured that every dish is drowning in carcinogenic heart-unhealthy cooking oils. Practically every dish served is greasy, slimy, and full of all kinds of mystery meat. The food is mostly ugly, smelly, and unappealing. Admittedly, some of the dishes are tasty and have that mouth-numbing kick, but that's about the only good thing I can say about the food. I'm quite disappointed with the local food to say the least. It's mostly boring, unappealing, and repetitive just like Hunanese cuisine. I also found it quite hard to find cuisine from other parts of China in Chongqing. I don't think I even need to say that foreign cuisine is also extremely sparse.
The locals - don't even get more started on the locals! They are the number one reason I hate Chongqing! If you want to see some of the worst China has to offer, or wait, some of the worst humanity has to offer - go to Chongqing. I've been all over China and Asia, but I have never even remotely seen people as rude as the people in Chongqing. It seems like everyone's got a massive stick up their ass. They're aggressive, spit anywhere and everywhere, loud, hickish, rude as hell, pushy, ugly, dumb, and so on and so on. Think of any negative adjective to describe human beings, and I bet it applies to the locals in Chongqing. The city is in fact EXTREMELY crowded and dense, especially on the weekends. Get ready to see hordes and hordes of people literally everywhere you go in the city. The subway system is extremely extensive just like in Shanghai and Beijing, but it is a complete nightmare due to the volume and pushiness of the passengers. Just like in Changsha, I got stared at HARD in Chongqing. I was also in Chongqing an entire week, and I saw maybe 10-15 Caucasian foreigners in that period. Bear in mind I also saw tens of millions of Chinese, so 10-15 foreigners is not even worth noting. I saw maybe 5 during my week long stay in Changsha. I should also note that I got a lot of mean, aggressive stares while I was in Chongqing, just like I usually get in the Northeast. Most people in Changsha just stared at me like an ignoramus or with a slight smile, but this rarely happened in Chongqing. The stares I got in Chongqing were quite often the kind that make one feel unwelcome. All in all, I felt like the locals in Chongqing were animals at worst and barbarians at best. I could go on and on about all of the bad behavior I encountered. I really didn't see any positive qualities to speak of.
Now for the women. The Chinese always go on and on about how many beauties can be found in Sichuan province. So what about Chongqing, as it did previously belong to Sichuan? Well, just like Changsha the beauties were few and far between. Sure, beauties existed and it didn't take long to spot them, but they weren't high in numbers like in Dalian and Chengdu. I saw way more hickish women with a downright awful sense of fashion and a mediocre face. I should note that one problem with Chinese women is that they often lack graceful feminine mannerisms. This is especially true in awful places like Chongqing. The women in Taiwan, Thailand, and Japanese often have cute and feminine body language with a soft voice. But lots of women in China walk with a frown on their face and have what I like to call "gutter voices." Sometimes you see a really good-looking girl, but as soon as she opens her mouth you immediately get turned off. Loud, crass, and with a bit of harsh tones thrown in for good measure - that's the kind of female voices one often hears in China, especially Chongqing. I thought the Northeastern Chinese took the cake for the most harsh sounding Mandarin, but it looks like the people in Chongqing got 'em beat.
The weather in Chongqing was pretty crappy and gloomy during my week-long stay. It rained non-stop half the time I was there, and the other half was chilly. I was there during the second week of April, so it seems even April is too early for trips to this region of China, as the weather was also quite dreary in Changsha while I was there. Another annoying thing about the weather was it kept changing (when it wasn't raining). One hour it felt cold, the next was warm, then it was back to cold again. It was really hard to plan how to dress each day. I constantly thought to myself: "Do I wear a jacket today or not? If it's too warm I don't wanna have to carry my jacket all over the city for the entire day, but if the weather is cold I don't want to be stranded without a jacket." I've always heard bad things about Chongqing's weather, so I can't say I'm too surprised. I'm starting to wonder if any of China has decent weather, because I've yet to see a Chinese city with good weather the majority of the year.
Getting around Chongqing was a major hassle. Like I said earlier, the subway system is very very extensive, but taking the subway is a complete nightmare and should be avoided the majority of the day if possible. Buses are decent and only cost 2 yuan per ride, but the traffic in Chongqing is dense and chaotic. And in typical mainland China fashion, the buses get severely overcrowded all hours of the day. So what about walking, the most natural way to get around? Well even that sucks. First, the sidewalks are often in disrepair due to the never-ending construction that can be found all over urban China. Second, all of the sidewalks are overfilled with millions and millions of aggressive Chinese people. You constantly have to play "chicken" with oncoming pedestrians to see who'll move out of the way of the other first. These people will literally knock your ass over if you don't get out of their way. Forget about both parties slightly moving out of the way of one another - the Chinese are too selfish to consider something like that. And finally, Chongqing is an extremely hilly city. You're pretty much always walking up or downhill, and some of the hills are mega-steep. I guess one could always resort to taxis, but of course that's the most expensive option and starts to add up fast if you overuse them. Chongqing is a logistical nightmare, so even meeting up with someone a mere three miles away could eat up hours of your day.
As mentioned earlier, I had a reunion with magnum in Chongqing. The last time I saw him was in Beijing exactly one year ago. I guess he doesn't come around to this neck of the woods much anymore (Happier Abroad). He's studying Chinese at a big university in Chongqing, and he's been with a Chinese girl for several months now. He's also in tip top physical shape, and health and fitness seems to be his favorite topic. Him and I went to his university gym together a few times to lift weights, and we followed up those gym sessions with local meals together. He seems mostly content with his life at this point, but he seems a bit uncertain about the future he has with his current Chinese girlfriend. I notice he always goes for the extremely physically attractive type in their young 20s. No problem with that, but he is seeking a potential wife, and all the girls he's going after are in their sexual prime and can be as picky as they damn well please. Of course the girls' parents also know this, so they'll try to find any flaws in magnum they can in order to dissuade their daughters from marrying a Caucasian foreigner. They know their daughters could easily attract a decent local guy instead. It's not until the girls get a bit older and their sexual marketplace value (SMV) takes a hit that the girls and their respective parents will be a bit more compromising. I told him this and gave him a stern warning about going after said type of girls. All in all, magnum's a very decent dude, one of the coolest foreigners I've met in Asia, but he's still got a lot of learning about Asia to do. I can feel his ignorance about Asia in our conversations, but I forgive him as he's still relatively new here. Nonetheless, I wish him luck in the future. I'm sure we'll meet again somewhere down the road.
In a nutshell, I despise Chongqing and I absolutely never want to go back if I can avoid it. The locals are some of the worst people I've ever seen in my life, the beautiful women are few and far between and lack feminine grace, the food is greasy and way too repetitive, the weather is sub-par, and the logistics of the city are one's worst nightmare. And unlike Changsha, but just like northeastern cities, Chongqing mostly shuts down at night. Going out at night wasn't very interesting at all. About the only thing I liked about the city was standing on (or under) one of Chongqing's many bridges. The city is cut through by both the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers, so there are quite a few bridges throughout the city. The city itself is ugly as sin, but the landscape/cityscape is quite amazing. Nonetheless, I can't imagine why any foreigner would ever want to live in a scum hole - yes, I said scum hole, not a term I throw around easily - like Chongqing. It only seems possible for a foreigner who lacks experience in other parts of China and Asia (i.e. magnum) to genuinely like Chongqing. It's an ugly, dirty, crass, and chaotic city, but it's also the largest metropolis I've ever laid eyes on. I still hope I'll never be back. *Gives the middle finger to Chongqing.* Luckily, I made my way to Chengdu just after Chongqing, which is where I'm at right now. It's definitely one of southern China's nicer cities, and it's only 2 hours by high-speed train from Chongqing. The report is coming soon so stay tuned.
Thanks Everdred, great descriptive points about Changsha and Chongqing. It also looks like there' zero signs in English there, must be quite difficult to get by.
Bizarrely, your post makes me want to go there even more Lol, thing is I enjoy both the good and the bad things.
Holy smokes I always wondered what happened to magnum. I can't believe he wouldn't come back and post an update, how ungrateful.
I'm glad he's in top physical shape and with a new attractive girl, and hopefully got over his previous heartbreak.
1)Too much of one thing defeats the purpose.
2)Everybody is full of it. What's your hypocrisy?
Jeez Magnum was a young Christian guy with no gf experience as I recall, headed to make or break in Asia, lookin for the virgin unicorn.
And now Everdred thinks it is a problem that Magnum has an early 20's Chinky hotty???
Maybe Magnum should be doing VIDEOS telling the rest of us how its DONE!!!!
"Well actually, she's not REALLY my daughter. But she does like to call me Daddy... at certain moments..."