This blog, and a few of the small accolades I've garnered from it, occupied a line on my resume when I was looking for a job in America a few months ago. I had some nice conversations with prospective employers about China and my writing.
The man who ended up hiring me at his company had a lot to say about one post in particular. My Top 10 Travel Destinations in China really struck him.
After hiring me, he told me that he'd been immensely impressed by the information that I'd presented on that Top 10 post. It wasn't my writing style or skills that moved him. Instead, it was simply the fact that I presented new information, geography, and locations that he was completely unaware existed.
The company I'm working at is a reverse logistics company that is closely involved with the trucking industry. My boss and the owner of the company years ago was a trucker. He prides himself upon being a geographical genius. During his trucking days, he'd driven, literally, all over North America. He often engages in discussions about certain cities or terrain he's seen. Maps cover the walls of his office.
Like many Americans, my boss knows very little about China. He knows the most basic of basics about the place. His life has never crossed paths with China and he's never needed to know more than a little bit of information about the country.
My Top 10 list has turned him onto China though. Every few days he tells me about the Google Maps he's looking at and how, as he simply scans random parts of the country, he finds new topography and cities he didn't know about before. He specifically has talked about how crazy it is to "just stumble across a city of five million here and then a city of seven million there."
When listening to him tell these stories one day, one city in particular came to mind - Chongqing. I told him to go look it up on Google Maps and then get back with me.
Chongqing is a municipality in southwest China with a population of over 30 million people. The actual urban center of Chongqing is only about five to six million people. But the greater area of Chongqing is much larger and more populous.
I've been to Chongqing. I spent about twelve hours in the city in the summer of 2006. I took an overnight bus from Yangshuo in Guilin Province to downtown Chongqing. I remember not sleeping well and waking up on the bus at about 6AM. As I woke up, I saw building and people bustling outside. I thought we were in downtown Chongqing, or at least very close to the bus' final destination. Instead, we drove through developing outskirts of Chongqing for hours. I finally got off of the bus at about 10AM. I remember looking out the window of the bus hour after hour amazed at the scale of the construction.
Chongqing is the definition of "sprawling."
The purpose for me going to Chongqing was to board a boat headed down the Yangtze River. I took a four day, three night trip from Chongqing to Yichang, the location of the Three Gorges Dam. The trip through the Three Gorges culminating with a stop at the Three Gorges Dam was impressive.
Obviously, the flooding of the Three Gorges and the dam a few hundred miles down river has greatly affected Chongqing. For one, instead of one of the world's great rivers flowing through the city, a, largely, stagnant lake now cuts through the center of downtown. The simple rising of water affected Chongqing greatly. Hundreds of thousands of people who used to reside next to the river, largely in the countryside to the east of the city, had to move. Many of those who lost their homes went to Chongqing.
A couple years ago, American newsman Ted Koppel did a documentary on the Discovery Channel - The People's Republic of Capitalism. For the series, Koppel featured Chongqing as the the symbol of the future of China. Unfortunately, I never saw this documentary and I'm not seeing any videos to put on here from that program. But from the articles I've read about the program, Koppel chose Chongqing because most Americans have not heard of the city.
Although I can't find Koppel's program, I have found a couple other program on Chongqing.
The first is from current.com called "City on Steroids." I just watched this video. It's 28 minutes long. The host is annoying and pretty clueless. But the video is well-produced and the sights and sounds of Chongqing make it worth checking out.
And here's another video I found on Youtube about Chongqing - Chongqing: Invisible City I found on Youtube. It's very much like "City on Steroids" (minus the goofy host). I encourage you to click on the link. For some reason, the video owner has disabled embedding the video.
Chongqing is a city western people should know about. It is one of, if not the, fastest growing cities in the world. It, possibly more than any other city in the interior of mainland China, is going to be an engine for growth going forward.
Disclaimer: I know that these "Cities you've never heard of, but should know" posts aren't groundbreaking. I know that Chongqing and all of the other cities that I'm writing about on these features are nothing new to people knowledgeable about China. Saying that, cities like Xi'an and Chongqing are mysteries to average folks who don't have a particular interest in China. The videos I just posted and the info I just gleaned about Chongqing is, I think, worthwhile. I'm looking forward to trying to get more info on other cities outside the few that people are most familiar with.