Chongqing is many things, but a temperate city it is not. Reflecting on Chongqing’s weather with any degree of delight is a relatively bizarre occurrence. As a furnace, it gets too hot; as a polluted, fog-bog you can count the amount of blue-sky days on one hand.
Chongqing likes to play weather hide-and-seek. Since the fog city, is considerably foggy, it’s often tricky to distinguish between potential rain fog and your usual dry fog (not unlike the difference between dry pot and hot pot, as a matter of fact). Mornings are a particularly mysterious time when the dew has blanketed the city and you don’t know if the dampness indicates the beginning or the end of precipitation.
If the summer heat is as boisterous as Chongqingers themselves, the winter chill is as sneaky and mysterious as the city’s outright unfamiliarity to most people in the developed world. The Chongqing winter isn’t frosty but its bite is cold enough to be an inconvenience if you’re not prepared. Here are some tips to help you get through the cold season.
1) Hot Pot & Huajiao
Nothing is more synonymous with Chongqing than hot pot. Obviously the blazingly spicy bubble bin will warm you from the guts up, whatever the weather. Inhaling the Hot Pot tidbits with haste during the winter can produce an even more satisfactory experience than at other times of the year. Best of all, you won’t have to deal with the overwhelming shedding of clothing, and unveiling of male bellies as you do during summer nights. If you are the seasonally sentimental type from a snowy background, you can always use the Sichuan Peppercorn (huajiao or “flower pepper") as a way to numb your lips to remind you of what the weather isn’t quite chilly enough to do by itself. It might not seem like a logical replacement for the frostbite tingle, but if you’re living in Chongqing, I’m certain you’ve had to make plenty of comfort concessions since your leap to China’s “Wild Wild West”. Wondering where to eat hot pot? Read on here.
2) Tights & Umbrellas
However rare torrential downpours are, the surprise sprinkle can burst out of the clouds at any time. Keep an umbrella as a companion to block the acid rain and keep you high-and-dry (and chemical-free). Temperature dips and spikes are as hard to predict, so layer up. Although that doesn’t always mean you need to be practical. Chongqing’s legendary ladies prance around in mini-skirts, tights & knee-high boots like an impromptu ballet or burlesque show might break out at any second. For women it seems they must adhere to an unwritten dress code to maintain the city’s title as having the most beauties in the country. At the very least, such foresight can avoid the relentless raining of inquisitions about your wellbeing from the perturbed populous who find your ability to remain healthy in such brisk conditions to be an anomaly.
3) Beans & Leaves
Since it’s such a task to choke down any sort of additional heat during the scorching summer months, think of the winter as an opportunity to enjoy hot drinks. Chongqing is bursting at the seams with new coffee houses and traditional Mahjong (麻将) — I mean tea, houses. With a few Starbucks locations in every district and the burgeoning homegrown Nenlü Tea chain (now in Jiefangbei, Jiangbei and Nanping) whether it’s bean or the leaf, trendy Western or traditionally Chinese, you can get your piping hot caffeine fix at multiple pit stops throughout town. For a guide on cafes in Chongqing click here.
4) Sweat & Endorphines
Looking after yourself in winter isn’t just a case of wearing the right clothes and having the right equipment. When the air outside gets chilly, it’s more difficult to work up the energy to get up, get out and keep active, which can lead to lethargy, loneliness and boredom. In fact, this time of year many people gain weight and some even cocoon themselves in their apartments waiting for spring to come. But this is the worst thing to do and can lead to general unhappiness and depression. In winter, it’s more important to keep active and it’s no secret that exercising releases endorphins in the brain that keep your mind optimistic and happy. Chongqing has plenty of gyms and fitness clubs with great facilities and competitive memberships. Check out this list for some of the more notable gyms in the city.
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