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Old March 4th, 2011, 04:54 AM   #1
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CHONGQING 重庆 - Pure Urban Madness

Very few other cities on urban forums seem to be shrouded with as much mystery as Chongqing these days. It is a city where a new supertall is announced almost every other week and it is officially the most populous city in the world with 32.5 million inhabitants (although the ‘city’ has the size of Austria), yet very few non-Chinese have visited it.

Pretty much the only image I had of Chongqing prior to my visit was ‘lots of skyscrapers in constant smog’.
Seeing as I currently live in Shanghai and Chongqing just happens to be a 2.5 hour flight away, I decided to pay the city a visit.

After having visited, I have to say that Chongqing is simply one of the most ‘intense’ cities I’ve ever been to, basically on the same scale as cities like Cairo in that regard. What really surprised me was the shocking difference between the poor and the rich parts of the city that are much more obvious than in any other major Chinese city. It is also by far the grittiest, dirtiest and most polluted of China’s cities. The smog usually limits visibility to a few hundred meters, which can make photography a difficult task. The central part of Chongqing (Yuzhong) roughly resembles Manhattan and is surrounded by two rivers (the Yangtze in the south and the Jialing in the north) as well. However, what really sets Chongqing apart is the extreme topography with incredible steep hills all over the city. If you think San Francisco or Istanbul have steep hills you haven’t seen anything yet. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that aerial tramways and rack railways account for a significant part of the public transportation network.

However, despite the rapid modernization Chongqing has remained much more traditional than most other Chinese cities. For example people still buy their groceries at street stalls and the typical supermarket chain retailers that can be found everywhere in cities on the eastern seaboard are almost unknown there.

Location in China:


All photos were taken between 5-7 October.


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My other recent China photo threads:
QINGDAO 青島 - German heritage, seafood and beer
ZHUJIAJIAO 朱家角 – Take a time machine to the China of the Qing Dynasty
Shanghai's Old Town - Light-years away from skyscrapers and neon lights
SHANGHAI – Blade Runner (Nighttime Edition)
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Old March 4th, 2011, 06:07 AM   #2
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wow nice photos of Chongqing! I really want to visit this city one day.

What does the population feel like there in comparison to cities like Beijing or Shanghai?
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Old March 4th, 2011, 10:53 AM   #3
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Chongqing is fantastic, very good definition - pure urban madness - but in a best (as far as madness could be), most exciting way!
Beautiful pictures nicely bringing soul of the city. I do, however, disagree a little with some of the assessments of the city; but fully understand how Chongqing may come as a shock to a person accustomed to Shanghai or Beijing. Arriving first time to CQ may seem as coming to an entirely different country.

Last edited by SimFox; March 4th, 2011 at 11:06 AM.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 01:37 PM   #4
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Great, interesting photos from Chongqing
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Old March 4th, 2011, 07:21 PM   #5
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I heard that it was the largest/most populous town on earth, but I (actually most people) didn't know anything about it. It is very mysterious, but so interesting too.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 07:41 PM   #6
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it is a bit misleading thing, the population count of Chongqing that is...
Those 32+ million are residing in Chongqing municipality. And in China any arbitrary area may be called municipality. So Chongqing is HUGE. As Raptor had pointed out it is a size of Austria; more than 2x the size of Netherlands or Taiwan. It's hard to say how much people live precisely in The core urban area as it had been growing with incredible speed, but the Census of October 2010 should have best ever answer - entire population had been counted not just official residents as before.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 08:42 AM   #7
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In Chongqing you can see what country life, and city life in China is like. I would love to live there!
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Old March 5th, 2011, 09:12 AM   #8
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Thanks for posting your pictures. I really liked the people over there like this one, so hot

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It'd be better if you can post some street level photos other than skyscrapers and the old town.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 01:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimFox View Post

it is a bit misleading thing, the population count of Chongqing that is...
Those 32+ million are residing in Chongqing municipality. And in China any arbitrary area may be called municipality. So Chongqing is HUGE. As Raptor had pointed out it is a size of Austria; more than 2x the size of Netherlands or Taiwan. It's hard to say how much people live precisely in The core urban area as it had been growing with incredible speed, but the Census of October 2010 should have best ever answer - entire population had been counted not just official residents as before.
Thanks for the explanation
I also heard that it is hard to count the opulation of large chinese cities, because there is a huge number of immigrants from the country (searching for work and a better life) that is not included in the official data.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 01:47 PM   #10
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Very interesting pics Raptor, and as you say, start contrasts indeed. I think it's inevitable the old areas will be razed to the ground and completely redeveloped, I just hope they can retain the soul of those unique places.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 02:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimFox View Post
Chongqing is fantastic, very good definition - pure urban madness - but in a best (as far as madness could be), most exciting way!
Beautiful pictures nicely bringing soul of the city. I do, however, disagree a little with some of the assessments of the city; but fully understand how Chongqing may come as a shock to a person accustomed to Shanghai or Beijing. Arriving first time to CQ may seem as coming to an entirely different country.
I've seen that city in a German documentary just recently. Granted, it was not about Chongqing alone but basically about a lot of booming regions around the globe but it showed extremely fascinating footage. They compared videos from their visit 30 years with those from today.

Chongqing of 1980 looks like a different country almost from the one of today.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 03:47 PM   #12
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very cice pictures. I love the way how this city is cramped togheter on that small hilly Island!
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Old March 5th, 2011, 03:52 PM   #13
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Incredible. I love the contrast between the crumbling old and ultra-modern.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 04:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slartibartfas View Post
I've seen that city in a German documentary just recently. Granted, it was not about Chongqing alone but basically about a lot of booming regions around the globe but it showed extremely fascinating footage. They compared videos from their visit 30 years with those from today.

Chongqing of 1980 looks like a different country almost from the one of today.
When I said that arriving to it feels like coming to a different country; I meant arriving from Shanghai, or Beijing. And arriving today. And different not really in terms as less developed, no... just different. Generally I think that each major Chinese city has it's own traits and "personality", albeit it is difficult to capture and especially see in pictures. Especially for person not familiar with overall chines culture. It is know fact that for member of one race members of other all look alike. The eye isn't trained to notice differences that are alien. Same goes to cultures and cities. For most Chinese all Europe is same, be it Norway of Spain...
I haven't been to Chengdu - last time I've been in Chongqing I planned to, even bought a train ticket, but weather turned bad - nonstop raining and cold, so I headed back to the east... But now I'm actually sorry for that. It would be interesting to see if Chongqing is simply a Sichuan city, or really an island in it's own right. Would be great to hear opinions of people familiar with both cities.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 12:41 AM   #15
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Chongqing and Chengdu are so different. different dialects, different life styles and different 'personality' or characteristics if you will.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 09:19 PM   #16
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This city look fascinating.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 01:27 AM   #17
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Really a city of contrasts, very different from anything in Europe or even Shanghai. Would love to visit!

Btw, the figure 32.5 millions is for the metropolitan area, including rural areas, the city itself has "just" 4.7 million inhabitnats.

Source: http://www.world-gazetteer.com/wg.ph...=c&va=&srt=npa
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Old March 7th, 2011, 01:44 AM   #18
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Maybe I will be the black sheep here: honeslty some pictures are frightening me!

A question: do CQ's people know what's a sunny day? Do they see the blue sky sometimes?
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Old March 7th, 2011, 12:07 PM   #19
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Maybe more than the people in Bejing
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Old March 7th, 2011, 01:54 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabri88 View Post
Maybe I will be the black sheep here: honeslty some pictures are frightening me!

A question: do CQ's people know what's a sunny day? Do they see the blue sky sometimes?
That is a tricky question! Chiefly because it isn't really clear what exactly is implied by the fact that people don't see blue sky, what are the causes...

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshsam View Post
Maybe more than the people in Bejing
Not necessary. And it is directly linked to the stated above.

The matter of fact is that ChongQing is known in China as a city of fogs. And that has NOTHING at all to do with pollution of any kind. That nickname is historical. During Second World War Republican government had been moved here (1937 -1945) for this very reason to use these fogs to hide, so to say, city from Japanese bombers.

So that natural phenomenon should definitely be taken into account when any discussion of skys of Chongqing is undertaken, yet it is typically omitted in western mass media.
Here is some basic data:

City hours of sunshine in e year (not taking into account any pollution)
Chongqing 1062
London 1461
Edinburgh 1405
Beijing 2748

Chongqing is also very wet - it rains/drizzles a lot - this in a way helps to clean the air as particulate matter in it (main pollutant) is taken down by the rain. As a result air is actually much better than in Beijing where what ever is there in the air stays there. again just a simple comparison of rainfall in a year:
London 583mm
Chongqing 1138mm

So no matter how they would try to clean the air CQ will never be very sunny/blue sky place.
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