Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gotham City

What a place... In the cold light of day, Chongqing actually looks more like Gotham City, or a poor man’s Hong Kong. The city centre sits on a rocky peninsula where the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers meet but in the last two or three decades it has sprawled for miles and miles in all directions, swallowing up nearby cities and creating one of the world’s biggest conurbations. A grey haze hangs over it for much of the year, insufferably hot in the summer, damp and dispiriting in the winter. Skyscrapers thrust up from every conceivable inch of land, like concrete fungus. They range from the predominantly bland & poorly-built to the occasional naff & flash which would include the new Sheraton, surely the ugliest in its fleet.

Nevertheless, a productive day meeting cultural bureaucrats (like myself), concert hall managers, museum directors… and artists at a nice, informal dinner on the south bank of the Yangtze while fireworks peppered the skyline... for the last time. It’s Lantern Day, the official end of Chinese New Year festival.

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