After showering over the toilet hole we moved to our new hostel the following morning.
Our new hostel was run by a really sweet boy with a little dog. It was in a good location and we were given the 8 bed dorm with an ensuite all to ourselves- still a hole for a toilet but it’s not actually that bad!
After checking in, we headed out to see about booking an evening river boat cruise. Our travel route for China is almost following the Yangtze River so we wanted to actually travel by boat on it atleast once! The tour guide that we found didn’t speak English and ended up putting me on the phone to his English teacher. After a quick phone call we had all the information that we needed (that this Chinese tour guide was trying to charge us ¥20 extra than the price we could see written on the sign in front of his shop) so we left and looked for another way to buy a boat ticket.
Hot Pot – the local dish
We tried the famous Chongqing hot pot for lunch today and it was pretty good!
On entering the restaurant you’re seated at a table with a hole in the middle and asked what flavour hot pot you want- we chose the mushroom as well as the house hot pot dish (chilli oil). You then chose what ingredients you want to add to your hot pot – mushrooms, bean sprouts, tofu and dumplings (for Leah). The liquids are bought in a partitioned metal container and placed in the hole in the centre of the table. They’re then heated on a gas stove until boiling when you then add in your ingredients.
The whole experience of cooking your own food this way was actually really fun. It was nice knowing exactly what was going into my dishes for the first time in China! My favourite meal creation was by cooking the tofu in the chilli oil and putting it on my mushrooms, bean sprouts and other vegetables cooked in the mushroom soup! It may sound odd but it was tasty!
Candy making and shopping centres
After lunch we carried on our search for a boat ticket but stumbled into a sweet making workshop in the middle of a shopping centre. The workshop was set up behind a glass stand and had lots of people gathered around watching the sweet makers work. It actually looked like hard work and there seemed to be a certain skill to it!
After our surprisingly interesting experience at the shopping centre we headed to another one on our way back to the hostel. This one looked recently built and showcased lots of high end brands (Versace, Prada, Max Mara etc.) on its advertising so we wanted to see if anything was happening inside. It was empty! The shops were all fully staffed but there were barely any shoppers (there were a few odd statues dotted around the place). For a shopping centre like this to have been built we thought there must’ve been high demand for it but there didn’t appear to be today!
Evening antics- river boat ticket, food street and roof top bars
We finally bought our boat ticket from a steer vendor by the river front. There must have been almost 100 vendors trying to sell boat tickets so we had our pick of the lot. We settled on an evening cruise for ¥80 leaving the following evening.
After buying our boat ticket we went to ‘food street’. The street was full of street vendors selling meat on skewers, hot pot dishes and other snacks, and it was completely rammed with pedestrians! We’d had hot pot earlier and the skewered meat was the furthest thing away from what I wanted so we headed underground to the food court. The vendors underground sold more varied dishes and the whole situation was a little less manic without all the crowds above (although it was still pretty busy). Leah and I ordered some noodles from one stall (the chef kept taking photos of us and showing me a photo of him with a white person earlier that day) and I thought they’d be perfect until he threw some beef in it at the last minute before I could stop him! Luckily leah liked the meat more and I liked the noodles so we traded!
Although my noodles tasted good they weren’t that filling, so I bought some fruit afterwards as we walked around looking for a bar to chill at for the evening. We were originally looking for a bar called cee-cee’s (recommended by the lonely planet) but couldn’t find it so went back to a bar we’d passed earlier. This bar had a row of guys outside to welcome you (by shouting a greeting at you as you enter) and escort you to a table inside (which we didn’t realise until we’d already walked straight past them all and found our own seats in the bar). It had a really odd atmosphere and was pretty empty so we swiftly left and carried on looking for somewhere busier.
Finally we ended up in revolving bar/ restaurant at the top of a hotel in the centre of the city. We didn’t even want a drink by now but the views were so nice that we sat down at a table in the restaurant and ordered a bottle of water to share. The restaurant was really empty by now so we didn’t think that it would be a problem… We were charged ¥10 for the bottle of water (the view was worth it so we didn’t care that we’d paid 5 times the amount that the price printed on the bottle was meant to be) as well as ¥5 each for tea that we didn’t ask for nor drink! The hostess had a pretty bad attitude too when we asked for the bill but we couldn’t really moan as we would’ve both paid more than ¥20 each just to sit there and enjoy the view!
From the revolving bar we could see another bar up even higher than this one- at the top of Westin hotel- so we went there to see what the view would be like. The hotel was so nice! The bar area was really cool and had amazing views of the city and the river, it even had a live jazz band and singers for the evening. We asked for the drinks menu as we sat down and checked out the skyline but we still didn’t want anything to drink. The atmosphere would’ve been perfect for a cocktail but we just wanted to sit there with a water and not something heavy.
We thought that it was a bit too cheeky to sit in the bar and not order so we made a promise to ourselves that tomorrow we’d come back and have a cocktail after our river boat cruise instead.