The ship docked at Chongqing which is the biggest city in China with over 33 million people. That’s almost the total population of Canada all in one city. Incredible!
I really enjoyed those four days on the boat but I think it was good that we upgraded to VIP. It was well worth it at $25 a day for the dining area, the fruit trays delivered to the rooms each day and the free beer and wine.
We had to pack two days worth in our carry-on and send our big bags off in a van that we will catch up with on Monday night. A bus took us to the train station where we caught the bullet train to Chengdu. The train took us through beautiful countryside of rolling hills, lots of greenery and small garden plots in every nook and cranny. These bullet trains can reach up to 350 km/h.
We ended up in Chengdu which is a city known for its Giant Panda Breeding research base. We will visit the pandas tomorrow but today our guide Fen took us to Jin Li which was teaming with humanity – maybe because it was Sunday. Jin Li is an area of artisans, souvenier shops and every kind of restaurant and food vendor you could possibly imagine. It was a great place for colourful pictures but I found the number of people overwhelming and was glad when we were herded onto our bus to head for our next stop.
We had had very little to eat all day unless people had thought to bring something on the train so we were ready for supper. This time it was something called Hot Pot. Each table has a sunken heating element that holds a pot in a pot. The inner pot contains boiling oil that is highly spiced. The outer pot has boiling broth. Meat is cooked in the pots – depending on your preference. It’s almost like a fondue in that you cook your own meats and vegetables. You mix up a bowl of cut up shallots, cilantro, peanuts, garlic, chili sauce, sesame sauce and rapeseed oil then dip your cooked meat and vegetables into your sauce before eating. I really enjoyed it although some didn’t seem to like it as much – feeling it was too oily. It was pretty messy.
I was quite ready to settle into our hotel room after supper. This hotel is spectacular. It is called the Kempinski and even has a brew house. Dave Robinson was quite excited. Some people went off to a “face changing” show but Dave and Dawne and I chose to just have drinks in the lobby then head to our rooms for an early night.