With a population of over 18 million, Chongqing is a vibrant place of noodles, mountain views, ancient towns and hot summer days. Known as one of the furnace cities in China, Chongqing has more than earned its nickname. Hidden away in the mountains, this city is not well known to the world but has left a lasting impression on me.
When I first moved to the city, I was confused about how people could eat Hotpot, spicy bubbling oil with fondue style meats and vegetables, on such hot summer days. With normal temperatures above 38 degrees, my first few months were a struggle. I was further confused when I tried to eat any basic meal, from dumplings to chicken and rice. Their signature peppercorn numbing spice, a small bean like ingredient, dominates the local cuisine.
Undeterred however, my confusion quickly changed into intrigue. What I find fascinating and what attracts people every year to the city is the beauty that Chongqing holds. Hidden well in the mountains, Chongqing was the wartime capital of China during the second world war. With its steep hills and green scenery, many locals and tourist are drawn to the endless footpaths and hidden trails dotted in and around the city.
Furthermore, Chongqing is the starting point for many Yangzi River Cruises. These cruises pass by the three gorges, a beautiful region full of valleys, mountains and picturesque scenery. Connecting China to Tibet, Chongqing also has roots to many local cultures and ethnic groups found only in this area of China. This gives the city a unique energy that other cities do not have.
Finally, I have grown to appreciate this city because of its residents. Local culture has help me experience everything from Chinese New Year to the Dragon Boat Festival and learn many things about China that can only be seen here. This is ultimately, the most important part of my time in Chongqing.
Although this city is not well known for its history, Chongqing more than makes up for it in modern energy and development. With a rapidly growing economy and population the city will become one of the most influential in China. Until then, I recommend coming to see this hidden gem and all the city has to offer!