Chongqing – Today was a bit of an interesting trip for me personally. I had never really seen the Highway system in Chongqing as anything else but a way to get just get around. I guess it is because I didn’t arrive in Chongqing until 2010 after the Highway System had opened, and I just took it for granted. It wasn’t until today that I learned that the highway system I was driving on today, did not open to traffic until 2007.
Since then, farmers and locals living in the counties of Chongqing have started seeing immense growth and prosperity, and of course, in recent years the local governments have been working hard to lift the local people and farmers out of poverty, by investing in the infrastructure that can bring people to the rural areas of Chongqing, and by investing in not only the farmer’s locally business but also the surrounding areas, turning them into small tourist attractions. In and around Chongqing there is a new type of entertainment popping up called agritainment, which is when agriculture meets entertainment. It isn’t very different from other tourist destinations, there is just a focus on what the people are growing and producing locally.
This, in turn, becomes the very experience you go there to see. The sprawling fields, the beautiful scenery, and getting a chance to pick your own fresh fruit, or tea leaves, or citruses. In many places, you can help process these raw goods into finished products such as Liquor, tea, into juice and of course, there are homestays where you can stay overnight, little amusement parks for the children of the family, and lots of vast open space where you can let go of your city-life worries and breathe in the fresh air.
We have done a series of live streams and similar kinds of episodes on locations that all have this agriculture theme in mind. My colleague James has visited a few of them around Chongqing and done extensive interviews about how the people there have been lifted out of poverty. Xuelin and I went to a Pear Orchard in Yubei District and then a Tea Mountain in Ba’Nan district not too long ago. These two locations are both places where farming the local land is not only a way for the locals to support themselves, but a thriving business where people can come and experience the whole process of producing these local brands of goods, and of course, buy some for themselves. Dingxin Tea Garden lets you pick your own tea leaves and produce your own green tea.
And today, going with CGTN Reporter Gerald Xu, I had a chance to further experience this a bit on my own, traveling around the citrus fruit orchards near Zhongxian, a county located east of Chongqing’s downtown area. Before the highway system opened, traveling between Chongqing and Zhongxian would have taken as much as 9 hours, but today, we made that trip in just 2 hours. Furthermore, the farmers who are living in this area, because of the infrastructure, the development, the boost in their business and the tourism, have seen their disposable income increase to be more than 8 times of what they made in 2007.
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