Chongqing walk­ing trail me­an­ders along old scenic sites

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By TAN YINGZI in Chongqing

In Chongqing, the city of moun­tains in South­west China, walk­ing used to be the ma­jor means of trans­porta­tion for most res­i­dents. Since old times, nu­mer­ous walk­ing trails were de­vel­oped round the moun­tains.

Nowa­days some of them have been pre­served and turned into sight­see­ing routes to let vis­i­tors ex­pe­ri­ence the land­scape, life and his­tory of the city.

Moun­tain City No 3 Walk­ing Trail in the Yuzhong Penin­su­lar is the best ex­am­ple.

The 3.9 kilo­me­ter long trail starts at Zhongx­ing Road by the Shibanpo Yangtze River Bridge, stretches up along the an­cient city walls, and ends at Tongyuan Gate, one of the re­main­ing two city gates from the Song Dy­nasty (960-1279) and the only gate still in use.

En­trance is free and vis­i­tors can ac­cess the trails from sev­eral en­trances amid the old al­leys.

Along the road, you can over­look the Yangtze River, visit sev­eral his­tor­i­cal sites and pass by the houses of lo­cal res­i­dents. When weather per­mits, peo­ple play mahjong or poker by the trail, or sit down and chat with neigh­bors.

French Benev­o­lence Hall is per­haps the old­est west­ern struc­ture in Chongqing. It used to be a char­ity hos­pi­tal, es­tab­lished by the French in 1902. But in 1944 it was turned into a wartime Chi­nese tra­di­tional medicine hos­pi­tal. The beau­ti­ful­ly­de­signed build­ing, how­ever, is now al­most in ru­ins and at the re­mote splen­dor of its orig­i­nal site vis­i­tors are left to pon­der hap­pier, grander times.

There are sev­eral his­tor­i­cal build­ings from the World War II era. At Kang Jian Hall, built in 1941, a lot of mod­ern dra­mas were put on to in­spire lo­cal peo­ple fac­ing im­mi­nent in­va­sion by the Ja­panese. As gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, war­lords and land­lords moved to Chongqing dur­ing wartime, they built homes in the city and most of them copied west­ern-style houses. Like Hou Lu, a house that used to be­long to a war­lord.

There is a tiny tra­di­tional hot­pot place along the trail which only opens at evenings. The kitchen is in­doors and two ta­bles are placed just on the road. You can en­joy the stun­ning night view of the city while eat­ing your hot­pot.

Or you can just sit idly in the pavil­ions, tak­ing in the sun­set on the Yangtze River. That ex­quis­ite choice is yours.

PHO­TOS BY TAN YINGZI / CHINA DAILY

From left: Walk­ing trails in Chongqing have been pre­served and turned into sight­see­ing routes; a tiny tra­di­tional hot­pot restau­rant and an old book­store on the Moun­tain City No 3 Walk­ing Trail on Yuzhong Penin­su­lar.

PHO­TOS BY TAN YINGZI / CHINA DAILY

Top: Xi­a­hao Old Street is a his­tor­i­cal res­i­den­tial block on the south bank of the Yangtze River in Chongqing. Above left: The old com­mu­nity in the city, where most se­nior ci­ti­zens live, has be­come at­trac­tive to young peo­ple. Above right: Ar­chi­tect Xie Peisong, and his cousin Xie Ran­ran, at their tea­house and stu­dio, Xiao Guan.

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