Thursday, November 22, 2007

Smog Town

Chongqing, I think, has the potential to become one of my favourite cities in China. It has.... character - almost uniquely amongst the places I've visited so far. Hangzhou looks the same as Kunming looks the same as Xi'an looks the same as Luoyang looks the same as..... But Chongqing, god bless it, looks like Chongqing. (A lot of that is down to the geography: the city occupies a narrow, hilly peninsula between the Yangtze and its small tributary, the Jialing River - so it has lots of narrow, steeply winding streets, and untypical architecture.)

However, the weather is complete shite. One of my Chinese contacts down there informed me that the place was often known as 'Fog Town'. I hadn't previously heard this; but then, he probably had no idea that the same appellation is given to San Francisco; so, we must make allowances for the cultural and educational divide between us.

Of course, in China fog still comes heavily impregnated with dust, sand, soot, industrial pollutants and car exhaust. It is generally beige in colour.

I have just spent three days without seeing the sun. The city was shrouded in a permanent apocalyptic twilight. Thoroughly depressing. And, on my return to Beijing, I find it is much the same here.....

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