My winter 2019 trip to China. Summary.

This has been one of the strangest trips I have had the opportunity to make. China is politically a complicated country, and I am just barely familiar with most of the country’s history.

Also, I spend two days in Wuhan while the pandemic was developing. That generated some talk once I went back to Stockholm. Only months later, I saw the significance of the situation. I am guessing that I could have gotten the virus while in one of the many train stations in China. I felt more tired than usual and had a sore throat for half of the trip. But I am not sure. I do not know even I had the virus or not. When Europe started to worry about it, more than a month have already passed since my arrival. It did not matter anymore, as or I avoided it or I already have passed it.

And this year 2020, I am probably not travelling anywhere. Nor me, nor most people. Thanks to cheap and fast transportation the world had become a very small place until this year that it got big and farther away again.

December 2019- January 2020

Trip to China 2019-2020. December 3rd, 4th & 5th. The end of the trip.

My last days in China, I spend them in Shanghai. I revisit some museums. But I spend most of the time at bookshops. Now that I only need to carry my backpack, and an extra bag I purchased a couple of days ago, I am in the position to buy as much as I want.

I buy a set of books mostly for their pictures. Comic books, and art books are my preferred ones. But I also buy a few books in English by Chinese publishers.

The trip home is tiresome, and I prefer to forget about it. I arrive to Stockholm at night and it is snowing. Home sweet home. It feels good to arrive to my apartment and leave the bags. Later, I will start unpacking.

Trip to China 2019-2020. Wuhan. December 1st & 2nd. Pandemic outbreak.

I do not understand what it is said on TV, but it is a new year’s show. The clock strikes twelve o’clock and everybody seems happy and there is dancing and singing. Also, there is an official discourse, that is later available on the web. I am too tired for celebrations, and I think that Chinese new year’s celebrations are the real ones, anyway.

In the morning, I change my tickets. I planned to take a train at 10AM to Nanjing. Stop there for four hours. And then take another high-speed train to Shanghai. But I will not have enough time to appreciate Nanjing and I am too tired after so many days around. So, I refund my tickets and get a new one directly to Shanghai. It is a shame to miss Nanjing, but I feel that I am making the right call.

After a long trip, the first day in Wuhan I just have time to take a walk around the lake.

[I write this paragraph on 20th July 2020, with the insight of what has happened]

While walking, I read an article about a mysterious virus has affected a few people in the city. The hospital is investigating the issue. The news gets my attention, but I do not give them a second though. Wuhan is an eleven million souls city, the outbreak seems unimportant. I have no idea on how important this news would be for the world at large.

The second day, I visit the Yellow Crane Tower. The Tower itself is a beautiful building that dominates the place. But my favorite part is the gardens. In this place, there are some of the most artful gardens I have ever seen. I take the opportunity to purchase a couple of small paintings at the shops in the park.

My next stop is a very interesting looking museum: “The 1911 Revolution Museum”. The institution offers one of the few parts of history that Taiwan and China agree upon. My knowledge of Chinese history is limited, I will add some books to read to my list once I go back to home. The last days of the Chinese Emperor are shown in different exhibits, and the struggles to out him.

Just one last museum before going to the hotel, the Wuhan Museum. I get strength from where I though there was nothing left and spend as much time in the museum as I can before it closes. All the artefacts, paintings, and figurines talk about a distant past that I know little about.

Once at the hotel, I take a long warm bath. Tomorrow, I will take my last high-speed train of this trip.

Trip to China 2019-2020. Chongqing. December 31st. Three Gorges Museum.

The Three Gorges Museum is really three museums in one. It has the history museum, the city museum, and the museum of the Three Gorges itself. I spend a few hours from exhibit to exhibit. After a enjoying all the artefacts and exhibitions I visit the Great Hall of the People located accordingly in the People’s Square.

I go to a thrift market. It is mostly empty. I guess that many buyers would do purchases on-line. I see a couple of people selling items to the shops, not the other way around. Some items are fantastic, and costly accordingly. My lack of price negotiation skills shines again. I am interested in some coins, the shopkeeper tells me that are not authentic, and that is why they are so cheap. I purchase a few, anyway, as they look interesting.

To finish the day, I visit a Bookshop. I know the dangers of that, as I am prone to accumulate books during my trips. I end purchasing just one book about the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. It has many pictures old and new, I cannot read the text, thou. It is in Chinese.

This is my 18th day travelling, and I feel very happy but tired. Also, I had a bad sore throat for most of the trip. The only energy that keeps me going is providing by my enthusiasm to visit as many places as possible.

Trip to China 2019-2020. Chongqing. December 30th.

I have free breakfast at the hotel. I go early to the restaurant, and it is almost empty. I get a mixture of everything and a mug of coffee.

I jump into the subway and travel to a traditional Chinese neighborhood. It is a popular attraction for shopping. I start my shopping here. The trip is getting closer to the end, and I have now some idea about what reasonable prices are. I am sure that I would still pay too much, thou, as I am not used to negotiate prizes.

I visit a temple at the top of a hill. It is different from many other temples I have visited probably because of the physical limitations of the location. A couple of tourists are here, most people is somewhere else shopping.

Afterwards, I follow a sign towards a museum. Again, the place is almost empty. It is a shame, even that I enjoy the tranquility. The museum is very small, just three rooms really. But it is incredibly well designed and tidy. Around the museum, there is a small beautiful park. The lackluster views are result of the fog, or is it smog, that has followed me all the trip. The greenery is terrific, thou.

After shopping, I visit a new park. I had it marked on the map as a must visit. It is a big park with several interesting landmarks. I specially like how many trees adapt their roots to the terrain creating interesting patterns over the paved stones. Again the views would be impressive, but the fog limits its beauty.

My last stop is the “Hongya Cave”. The buildings have an interesting architecture that reminds of the Spirited Away house. I do some extra shopping in the place with lower prices. I still manage to get some extra stuff for free, as the shopkeeper probably felt bad about me paying full price. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Trip to China 2019-2020. Chongqing. December 29th.

Chengdu is a tidy orderly city that was a pleasure to visit. Chongqing feels as chaotic as interesting. I see many similarities with Hong Kong. It is packed with tall buildings, surrounded by water and the old and the new mix together in an unpredictable mix.

I have already checked in and leave my backpack, I am free to take the subway and roam light around the city. As I exit the subway station, I see a massive building in the horizon. I start walking in that general direction.

I find myself at the feet of more than half a dozen tall skyscrapers. And, at the street level, there is one of the largest shopping malls I have ever seen. A constant in my trip in China is to see that many shopping malls are half empty. The shopping malls have a lot of activity in some floors meanwhile others remain almost closed. My guess is that as newer places open, the older ones stop growing or even lose some shops. This one is the newest and all shops are open and there is an absurd amount of people shopping around. I decide to buy a fancy belt in one of the fashion shops. I pay with cash again. The cashier takes the money and leaves it in a drawer with just a few notes. I feel out of place paying not able to pay with my phone like everybody else.

Back at the hotel, I am still marveled at its curious set up. There are two towering buildings, both are hotels. By that, I mean that there are several hotels in each one of them. In the lower floor, the lobbies of each brand open to the street. Some lobbies are big and classy, others small and kind of cheap. Everybody takes then the same elevator and stops at the floor of their hotel. My hotel starts at the twelfth floor. I have a pleasant room in floor twenty-seventh. I have a good night of sleep.