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CITY WALKS

Walking is by far the best way to explore most cities but in Chongqing it really is the only way to go. Tucked away in the labyrinth of narrow alleyways and steep stairs you'll discover lots of interesting places. These old and worn flagged stairways have a thousand tales to tell if only they could talk.

SHAPINGBA DISTRICT ɳƺ

Ciqikou   Pottery Port  has been slowly evolving from a traditional village and chinaware distribution port on the outskirts of Chongqing city into a popular tourist attraction with all the kitsch trimmings. A walk through some of the quieter quarters gives you a chance to step back in time. Just inside the main entrance detour to the right into the 2 Zhang Mansion, just a shadow of its former self. Take time to sip tea in this little Qing Dynasty museum and gallery.  
 
Continue down the busy narrow flagged street lined with art studios, souvenir shops, and snack food stalls to the junction with Ciqikou's main thoroughfare and turn left. Take a peek down the little alleys and stairways off this lane which runs north for several hundred meters. Several stairways will take you up and over the spine and along to the school beside the back gate of the temple which towers above the Jialing River at the other end of this main thoroughfare. 

Continue along the main street to the left, away from the crowds, up the stairs and winding away from the bustle of business you'll find a couple of large old courtyard homes, one recently restored with a Chinese Herbal Medicine dispensary and a funeral parlour.  The other is a multi family residence and quite run down on the opposite side of the street.
 
While the main streets bustle with antiques, arts and crafts including paper cutting, silk embroidery and silk workshops, clothing and jewellery stores liberally sprinkled with snack food stalls, bars, teahouses and hot pot restaurants, the backstreets reflect the slower pace of daily life. Siqikou is a living village and life goes on much the same despite the tourists who swarm through its narrow flagged alleys every day. 



The 14 Tong Compound is one good example of large Qing Dynasty Si He Yuan which today is shared by seven families who each pay Y50 in rent per month.  One old woman has called this home for 85 years and another woman has lived here for 50 years.  You'll find this courtyard building off to the left after entering by the main gate.  
 
Turning right into the main street, follow the crowds taking any of a multitude of little detours that reveal the secrets of Siqikou. The first on the left is the 9 Ceramics Museum in the grounds of 8 Ciqikou's Old School Jia Ling Xin Chu Gua Xue Shu Yuan in a traditional Ming Dynasty Complex and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 2pm you can enjoy a cup of tea while watching 10 Sichuan Opera performed by a troupe of retired but never tiring actors - current as of early Dec 2012

A little further on the left you'll find the 4 Deep Water Well  ˮ. Climb the covered stairs across the old threshold into what is a new and characterless teahouse with the old stone well on the left. 

The next interesting detour is again on the left just beyond the Well Teahouse, up an alley following the 'yellow brick wall gallery' up to the back of the 5 HaolunTemple complex and down a string of narrow winding stairs onto Ciqikou's secondary thoroughfare, and much quieter one. 

Follow the alleys back towards the river and make a left turn to cross the gully and walk out to the pagoda and the old gate overlooking the riverboats. Back up the bank of this gulley there's also a small museum dedicated to the traditional timber pole houses of these old riverside villages but it is seldom open.
 
Another small museum 7 Trackers Museum just beneath the front entrance of the Temple is dedicated to the river boats of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers and the men that tracked and sailed them before the introduction of engines.

Over the past few years several Youth Hostels have opened and a plethora of tiny teahouses and cafes, bars and boutiques have also popped up offering something for everyone.  The best option is still in the back streets after you've had enough of the crowds.

Places of Interest in Ciqikou
  1. Main Gate
  2. Zhang Courtyard Mansion (Siheyuan)
  3. Sculpture of Underground Martyrs
  4. Deep Water Well  ˮ
  5. Haolun Temple
  6. Chinese Traditional Apothecary
  7. Trackers Museum
  8. Ming Dynasty School
  9. Ceramics Museum
  10.  Sichuan Opera Theatre
  11.  Gate and Lookout
  12.  Ma Hua Snack Food
  13.  Silk Workshop
  14.  Tong Compound

Date: 20 Nov 08    Views: 698    Comments: 1          

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