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Chongqing is located within southeast China's Sichuan Province but since 1997 it has been an independent metropolis under the direct jurisdiction of the Central Government.   Located on the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers, this famous "Mountain City" or "Foggy City" is home to some 6 million people, while approximately 30 million people live in the counties and districts surrounding the old city.   In some fashion, it was told to us that Chongqing was the largest city in the world.   Everyone looked puzzled and wondered how this had gone unreported in recent past.

Called Yu for short, Chongqing was established some 3,000 years ago at the time of the Ba Kingdom.   As an inland port it was opened to foreign trade in 1890 and played a key role in the economy of the southwest region.   During World War II between 1938 and 1945, it was the provisional capital of China.   The Japanese bombed the city heavily and only the long foggy winters saved the city from worse damage.   Chongqing or "Chungking" was known to most of the world as a heavily bombarded yet was a brave city.   Many places of interest here are related to its wartime struggles or the revolution led by the Communist Party leaders, who later took the control of China.   Indeed, during the war, the island over which the Yangtze River Bridge was later built, served as the runway for "The Flying Tigers".   After the war, Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong participated in the famous "Chongqing Talks" here, which sought — unsuccessfully — to negotiate a political reconciliation between the Nationalists and the Communists.

Today Chongqing is an important industrial city and a popular tourist destination.   The renowned Three Gorges are just 20 hours sailing away, so Chongqing is the start or end point for most Yangtze River cruises.   In our case, it was the end of our river cruise.

The air in Chongqing was perhaps the worse of all.   The first few photographs were taken at a time in the morning that should have resulted in excellent pictures.   These have been “photoshopped” extensively.  

The sights to see before we board our airplane is the Chongqing Zoo, featuring a couple of pandas.   These two were the first panda we had ever seen.

From the pandas, we walked through a small portion of the zoo and past an aquaium.   There were several interesting fish but reflections in the tank glass just prevented any really good photographs.

Our final stop in Chongqing was an art gallery.   There was a demostration of brush painting by a very qualified artist.   We bought several pieces for a very reasonable price.   From the art gallery there was a quick lunch and then to the airport for our plane to Xian.   The items in the next to last photograph in the below group are shark fins.   We didn't have any shark fin soup and have since learned that the Chinese have just about placed the shark on the endangered list because of the numerous killings of this animal.

Below are a couple of views in our hotel room in Xian.   Our one night stay was in a Sofitel Hotel.   It is also a 5-star hotel and we were very happy with the room and the hotel facilities.   Click on this link, then Photo Gallery for a short slide show of this hotel.   The last two photographs are of the lobby right out side our room.

The evening would be spent at a dinner show, a show about the Tang Dynasty.   The dinner was good and we were getting very accustomed to eating Chinese food.   The show was a big production.   Lots of people, nice sets and costumes, interesting music.

Probably the most interesting piece was titled Spring Orioles Song featuring the playing of a flute like instrument.   The tempo of this piece was quite fast as can be seen by the motion blurring of the instrument and hands.   The sounds did sound like orioles.

Tomorrow — Xian and the Terra Cotta Solders