I lived in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, from 2006 to 2014, teaching English at two universities there. I arrived as the city was demolishing the last of its ancient neighborhoods in its rush to “progress;” to waste so much valuable architectural and cultural heritage seemed criminal. I wandered the city and documented what remained with my camera. Learn more about the transformation of one historic area here:
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.