Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chongqing (重庆) China

Welcome to Chongqing!

I went there recently on a business trip and managed to grab a few hours to have a look around.

Chongqing is know as "the fog capital" ( 雾都) and one of the "Three Furnaces" (三大火炉) in China. It is situated in the Sichuan Basin, a very low lying area, in Southwest China. It is a peninsula with two rivers flowing either side of it; the Yangtze and the Jialing. Its geographical position, together with the pollution caused by local industries burning coal, means it has one of the lowest annual sunshine totals in China. I was lucky that the day I had some time to be the tourist was one of the better days. As the day progressed the fog receded.

Come with me for a walk, a boat trip and a hotpot lunch and discover this quickly developing city with a population of around 7 million.

I stayed and worked in the
Central Business District (CBD).
This area is called Jiefangbei.
Expensive western brand shops in
shopping malls, Starbucks
coffee and office blocks make this
part of Chongqing like so many others
around the world

The column is the city's liberation monument
to celebrate the end of China's war with Japan.
It was built in 1945

Crossing the road

The square, which is likened to Times Square
in New York, by night

The gateway to the "People's Square".
Construction of the square and the People's
Hall was started in 1951

From here we can see beyond
the gateway to the "Three Gorges
Museum" A visit gives you a feel
for the City and its past

The square is paved with smooth marble tiles.
It is a great place for people watching

The People's Hall resembles the Temple of
in Beijing

The whole building is composed of an
auditorium, and three accompanying buildings.
The architecture of the People's Great Hall
mimics that of the Ming (1368-1644) and
Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties

The fog is beginning to lift as we arrive at
the river and I take a boat trip

Chaotianmen Bridge. At 552 metres its span makes
it currently the longest arch bridge in the world

The sun is beginning to shine through

Here you can see very clearly the confluence
of the two rivers. In the foreground is the
"yellow" Yangtze and where the ship is,
the clearer waters of the Jialing

Chaotianmen Square. You can get a cruise
from here to The 3 Gorges

A 'Bang-Bang' man. Chongqing is full of men
and women with thick bamboo poles
waiting for goods to carry

Having fun on the square

My boat is the small one on the left. You can
see again here where the two rivers meet

This is a marriage market. Parents and
grandparents try to find a husband for their
(grand) children

A traditional building looking out
over the river. It houses shops
and restaurants

Back to the market. I wonder if any
arrangements are taking place

You can guess, more or less, what these
notices say! I am.....and I am looking for........
If you are a Mandarin speaker perhaps you
could leave a comment with the translation!

This is a view of the front of the building
on Nan Bin Road by the bank of the

Here's me and my apron, about to experience
the famous hotpot in a restaurant in the same

And here's the hotpot boiling away! I loved it
but I stayed away from internal organs.
Difficult to stay away from the chillies though!

Making spicey noodles

The view from near where we had lunch

And looking the other way. The green ship-like
building is a concert hall I believe. The sun has
now really beaten the fog!

I love this wall

I think there must have been pirates in
Chongqing. It is definitely a theme here

Representing old Chongqingian
architecture, but it's surrounded
by modern architecture

Mum and baby.
Very serious baby!

Back to the CBD at the end of my tour.
I then picked up my suitcases and took a taxi
to the airport to fly back to Singapore. I wished
I could have stayed longer and seen more

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Pistoia Tuscany Italy

Welcome. Thanks for having a look at my blog.

In this posting we move from India to Italy, to a city called Pistoia which lies about 30 km northwest of Florence. Not a popular tourist place, but it does have a beautiful medieval central piazza which is the subject of most of the photos. Perhaps its biggest claim to fame is the word pistol comes from Pistoia. It started manufacturing them in the 16th century. Now it is famous for nursery gardens.

I worked here from 1979 to 1983. The centre of the city hasn't changed. It was a real pleasure to return and have the opportunity to take photos on a beautiful August sunny afternoon.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse of one of the least visited places in Tuscany.

Garibaldi sits proud on his steed.
He is an Italian national hero

One of the more attractive lamposts
I have seen

Church of St Paul

Detail from the facade of the church

Street leading to the Piazza

The building on the right is the
Cassa di Risparmio (Savings Bank)

A close up of its beautiful
Neo-Renaissance style

Almost in the Piazza del Duomo
(Cathedral Square). Daniela
gazing at the architectural feast!

A gorgeous alleyway

Inside the "Duomo", the
Cathedral of San Zeno

They knew how to build churches!

That's a coffin worth dying for!

Antico Palazzo del Vescovo (Old Bishop's Palace)
It's the palace that is old, not the Bishop! Though
they usually are

A close up of the entrance. Not sure if the bike
belongs to the Bishop

The Cathedral of San Zeno. Saint Zeno is the
patron saint of anglers and fishermen. I
don't know why they chose him for the
Cathedral of Pistoia. It is a long way from
the sea

Palazzo del Comune (The City Hall or the
Palazzo of the Old Lords). The seat of
the City government

The striking Bell Tower called
La Torre di Catilina. It stands
30 m high

Palazzo Pretorio currently the law courts

In the courtyard of the Palazzo Pretorio

The Gothic Battistero di
San Giovanni
of St John)

I love this door


A lovely house with a hat!

We are in Piazza della Sala or just "the Sala"
to Pistoians. It is one of the oldest squares in

Daniela by the Leoncino Well.
It takes its name from the lion
on the top of the well

I spotted these two in the Piazza del Duomo. Cute!