An 0800 start in one of the most densely populated cities on earth generally means we will hit peak hour traffic. Chongqing was no exception. Given our Garmins are pretty useless, we rely heavily on Green and her combination of Garmin (Chinese version) and the Chinese equivalent of Google Maps. It means that the following cars must stick together and rely on radio contact. We call this ‘sticky rice’ driving.
The locals are pretty aggressive. They change lanes without blinkers, they don’t worry about lanes, traffic lights or the road rules in generally which means we play this game of bluff. They try to barge into our convoy, we try to stop them. Lots of revving, ducking, weaving and blasting of horns. That said road rage does not seem to exist, it’s all part of the game.
On our way out we passed through a new residential development. There were 20 or so new 20 story towers. But what was more interesting was when one set were complete the bulldozers we moving up the street knocking down old 3 to 4 story buildings to be replaced by the new towers with park like landscaping. We started to get a feel for why everything looks so new and modern.
We made it out of town with the convoy intact. It was raining, cool and low clouds swirled around the mountains. Once on the tollway I could have sworn we were driving in Europe, such was the landscape and the road conditions, except we weren’t being passed by Porsche’s doing 200kph, rather buses doing 120kph.
The tollway was lined with trees, so it was harder to see what was happening on the land, but every now and again w would get a glimpse of a flooded rice paddy and a person planting out their crop, knee deep in water.
For a change we managed to find a park for lunch. Wanzhou is a city of around 500k people. It does not even get a mention in the Lonely Planet guide. On the banks of the Yangtze is was a very pretty town. Wide tree lined streets and footpaths. Not a skerrick of rubbish or dirt. Modern buildings, parks and a promenade running for miles along the banks of the river.
Wushan is a town a population of around 300k. It’s the end point of the 3 Gorges cruises. We have a day off tomorrow to go on a river cruise through the gorges.
It also has its own special cuisine. Although described as BBQ fish, the local catfish are wrapped in baking paper with a bunch of herbs and placed in a large baking dish on a hotplate at the table and cooked in front of you. No signage was in English and the locals knowledge of the language was as proficient as our Chinese (good day and thankyou). Plus our capacity to use Google Translate is limited as only a couple of people downloaded it before the trip (we cannot do this in China as Google is blocked here), and a lot of it relies on a non existent internet connection. So to order we have found the best method is to walk around the restaurant and point towards what others are eating. No one seems to mind us leaning over their table and examining its contents with the waiter.
Everything came and we had no idea of what to do, so one of the old ladies cooked everything for us and curtly told us when we got the order of things out of sequence. One 4kg catfish meal, numerous Coke, tea and beer. 7 very full people and a bill for $70 total.
We went for a walk along the riverside promenade and watched the locals doing their exercises in groups to loud music and though we should join in, but opted for bed instead.