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Leisure and Celebrity Encounter Play Keynote to National Day Staycation

By JAMES ALEXANDERICHONGQING|Oct 13,2020

Chongqing- Based on past experiences of travel during Golden Week, and the fact I have always preferred travel outside of peak season, the natural choice for me over the extended National Day Holiday, which coincided with Mid-Autumn this year, was to kick back and relax within the confines of the Chongqing Urban Area.

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I captured a photo of the Mid-Autumn full moon in 2019, but there was no such luck in Chonqing this year!

My first major holiday outing in China happened to come a few weeks after I arrived in Chongqing all those years back in 2003. For my first National Day Holiday, I traveled with a group of Chinese colleagues to Hailuogou Glacier Park in the mountains of Western Sichuan.

At the risk of sounding contradictory, the Moxi Hot Springs’ experience packed tightly within a stunning forested valley among the clouds, and the first time I ever climbed a glacier on foot are memories I am keen to repeat shortly.

On the other side of the coin, the crowds and queues also stand out from experience. I remember the gauntlet that was packed onto a shuttle bus out of the national park, especially when people desperate to return to the creature comforts of their accommodation back in Moxi, skipped the queues by opening the side windows and climbing the exterior to claim a seat inside the vehicle.

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Drizzly climes and the full-time demands of childcare made the holiday a more low key but enjoyable affair.

Even in my younger days back in England, I always preferred the relaxed, time, and cost-efficient traveling outside of major travel seasons and national holidays. However, this practice does not equate with boredom or lack of hedonistic spirit but rather presents an opportunity to enjoy Chongqing at leisure free of traffic and crowds, providing you know the right places to visit.

Domestic tourism is booming in Chongqing, but the influx of visitors tends to concentrate around the classic attractions, such as Ciqikou Ancient Town, Hongya Cave, Testbed 2, the Yangtze Cableway, Liziba Station, where the monorail train passes through a building on the upper floors, and the famous city night viewing platform of Yikeshu on Nanshan Mountain.

During these busy periods, locals in Chongqing have received praise for staying clear of these sights during peak times, so guests to the city don’t experience unnecessary crowding.

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A Japanese style spa house on Nanshan offers an authentic and relaxing environment.

However, major attractions aside, the rest of the city becomes relatively quiet, and so the choice of remaining behind becomes an option of considerable appeal.

Throughout the National Day Holiday in Chongqing, which was palpably low-key compared to last year, the weather was mostly cold, grey, and drizzly. Overnight on October 1st, the full moon of Mid-Autumn was nowhere to be seen that night through the thick blanket of cloud. This ultimately meant that plans to enjoy the great outdoors never came to fruition.

Also, coupled with the demands of looking after an energetic 3-year-old full time, there was limited scope for thrills and adventure, so a more uneventful, yet in no way dampened approach to the holiday was in call.

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Having once lived in Korea for four years, I was happy when the Jjimjilbang experience came to Chongqing!

Over the holiday, we visited a Korean style spa house near the Jialing River and spent another day at a Japanese themed spa on Nanshan Mountain. Along with hot spring resorts, they are, for the most part, immune to inclement weather and have enough facilities to keep young children reasonably entertained in a safe environment.

On other days when not at home, we took supervision turns at playrooms in the malls of Yubei District, which for me, actually proved to be the most fruitful opportunity to keep up with the demands of translating the Chongqing Showcase articles. Once the chance reared its head, I headed for the nearest coffee shop and knuckled down to make sure there would be no pile-up of work come to the end of the holiday.

Finally, one evening towards the end of National Day, when there were family minders at home, we headed for Ninth Street (Jiu Jie) in Guanyinqiao and had a late night out (1 am is very late for me nowadays!) at a live performance venue called Spark with a good friend who escaped lockdown in Malaysia to the enjoy the relative normality we have enjoyed in China over the past half-year.

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During an evening at the party district of Ninth Street, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting the famous singer Zhang Haotian.

Since the atmosphere around Ninth Street was far quieter than usual, it was an expected surprise to meet the well-known singer Zhang Haotian, who during his live performance, saw there was a foreign face among the audience, and subsequently joined us for a while, even sharing a round of darts and gifting us a signed copy of his latest album!

The rest of the holiday was a happy but mundane stay in the comforts of home. While a far cry in terms of excitement compared to iChongqing colleagues, some of whom ventured to the blue skies of Beijing and other provinces around the country, the chance to unwind and enjoy the company of friends and family was most welcome.

Was I disappointed not to travel anywhere new during the holiday? Not at all. This week back at iChongqing, I will join various media organizations representatives to the northernmost county of Chengkou, where we will see poverty eradication achievements. Chongqing is full of amazing places, and even after all these years, there are still many great locations I am yet to visit, so the opportunity to travel there for such a meaningful purpose is certainly ample remedy!

Stay tuned!

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