Tree branches form a pattern against a traditional Chinese pavilion in Suzhou’s Humble Administrator’s Garden, one of the city’s top attractions.
Jiefangbei shopping area at night, Chongqing
I badly needed a weekend away. As I’m facing my final 10 weeks living and working in Chengdu, Sichuan, I’ve been under constant stress. When I was scheduled to give IELTS exams in Chongqing, I made a 3-day weekend of it, and actually relaxed for a couple of days. The weather was turning cooler, the summer was finally gone, and autumn was in the air.
gateway, 下洪学巷 Xiahongxue Lane, Yuzhong District, Chongqing
I spent Friday night at my favorite Chongqing guest house, the Sunrise Mingqing Hostel, where I had a small sitting room and bedroom, furnished with antique furniture. It was quiet and relaxing. The hostel is right next to the Huguang Guild Hall, an exquisite example of traditional architecture, which I visited the next morning. The photo above shows the gateway and steps that lead to the old hillside neighborhood where the hostel is located.
I spent Saturday morning exploring some of the remaining ancient lanes and stone stairways that honeycomb the steep hillsides bordering the Changjiang (Yangtze) River. I took quite a few photos, which you can see in my Flickr set here.
merchant, Shibati ancient neighborhood, Chongqing
On Satuday night, after an afternoon of giving speaking exams, I found a basement food court that offered nothing but noodles and dumplings. After a delicious meal of handmade spicy noodles with beef, I walked to the historic Shibati area, an ancient stairway neighborhood that still retains the flavor of old Chongqing. Camera in hand, I practiced being unobtrusive by shooting from the hip – basically, it means holding the camera at waist level, the lens pointed in the general direction of the scene you want to capture. It’s difficult and takes lots of practice, and I got both good and bad results. People didn’t realize that I was shooting them, although the loud click of the camera sometimes turned people’s heads.
side by side, Jiefangbei, Chongqing
One of my ulterior motives during the weekend was to network with other IELTS examiners for job leads. Since the Sichuan government only renewed my residency visa until February 2013, I’m faced with finding a new job in the middle of the academic year, and moving to a new province just before the Spring Festival and Chinese New Year begins.
This coming weekend will find me in Xian, once again for IELTS examinations. I’ll have more updates on my future plans next week.
View my other photos from the weekend in my Chongqing Oct. 2012 set on Flickr.
I returned to Chongqing the weekend of May 26-28 for another IELTS exam weekend. The city hadn’t changed much in the two weeks since I’d last been there. The weather was still warm but not yet hot, and the cloud cover cast a gray pall over the city.
The speaking exams,on Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, were at SISU, Sichuan International Studies University. Each IELTS speaking exam lasts 11-14 minutes, after which the examiner assigns scores in four catagories. On Sunday, I again ate lunch at Café Liberthé, the French restaurant operated by the Alliance Francaise on campus. This time I had an excellent plate of fried sole, and a large salad.
Sunday evening, I wanted some local Sichuan food, so I returned to a restaurant in the Linjiangmen area I’d been to on my first trip. I had two huge plates of food, with stir-fried meats, Beijing duck-style pancakes, and green beans. Why do I seem to eat so much whenever I’m out of town?
On Monday, we marked the IELTS writing exams at the British Council offices downtown, a short walk from my hotel. I finished early, about 1:30 PM, so I had the entire afternoon free. I walked to Luohan Temple, and wandered around inside the temple buildings for awhile, taking refuge in a covered walkway during a brief rain shower.
Changjiang (Yangtze River), seen from Chaotianmen Square
My stomach was a bit upset, from a combination of too much coffee and a bad Subway sandwich at lunch, so I hung out in the downtown area until I felt better. I had an early dinner at KFC – it’s quite good in Sichuan, since they seem to use local chickens and pay more attention to the recipe than in other parts of China. At 6:12 I caught the express train back to Chengdu.
June will be less busy, since I have no IELTS exams until the end of the month, and my classes will be over by about June 23. Then – more work in the summer months.
Wet night, Jiefangbei district