Touring China Part 1 – Chongqing

View of Chongqing
View of Chongqing

I’m back in Europe after a 10 day tour of Southern China that took in three fascinating cities; Chongqing, Kunming and Chengdu. I was very lucky to be joined this time by my wife Jen, who sang with me on the tour. I didn’t get a chance to write about it whilst it was going on, so over the next few days I’m going to put a few posts up on here.

The tour was jointly organised by the Welsh Office in Chongqing and the British Council to launch the start of Wales Week and to mark the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange. I’d like to extend my warmest gratitude to both organisations for this wonderful opportunity, and to Sinba Duan and Joanne Yang in particular for all their hard work.

Chingqing from the Jialing River
Chongqing from the Jialing River

First stop was Chongqing, a sprawling mega-city that looms over the spot where the Jialing River runs into the mighty Yangtze. We arrived at night and I have to say it was quite a breathtaking sight to see those gigantic skyscrapers lit up in the dark. It wasn’t raining, but if it had been it would have felt like Blade Runner come to life.

Although we may have found the city’s appearance a bit intimidating, the people we met and worked with were the complete opposite; friendly, generous and kind. Through the beautiful combination of food and music we were given an insight into the local culture that was very special.

We were invited to Chongqing by the Welsh Office to launch the Wales Week event and perform two concerts in the city. The concerts were in two live music venues; Nuts Live house and Mr Tipsy and I was overwhelmed by the response. Both gigs were packed and the audiences attentive and warm. It was a really great start to the tour and I got to perform with a traditional Chinese ensemble for the very first time.

Chongqing architecture
Chongqing architecture

It was very special to be invited to the launch of the Wales Week event, which is building bridges between Wales and Chongqing. I was both flattered and humbled by the warm reception that my album received from the speakers and guests.

In addition we got to meet many of the city’s inhabitants and managed to squeeze in a trip to UkuEnglish – a novel idea that aims to teach English to young Chinese kids through learning songs on the Ukelele! Incidentally they’re hiring if anyone fancies a stint in Chongqing!

Anyway, here are the photos!

Jen taking in the view
Jen taking in the view
UKuEnglish founders at their school
UkuEnglish founders at their school
Chongqing CBD - in the 80s the small tower in the background was the tallest structure in the city!
Chongqing CBD – in the 80s the small tower in the background was the tallest structure in the city!
At Nuts Live House with Jen
At Nuts Live House with Jen
Performing at Mr Tipsy
Performing at Mr Tipsy
Live at Nuts Live House
Live at Nuts Live House
with the musicians L to R Qiao Liang, Song Ting Ting, Yang Yang & Kong Wenjin
with the musicians (L to R); Qiao Liang, Song Ting Ting, Yang Yang & Kong Wenjin
At Nuts Live House with Yang Yang
At Nuts Live House with Yang Yang
Guzhenhg with Kong Wenjin
Guzhenhg with Kong Wenjin
With Qiao Liang
With Qiao Liang
Pipa
Pipa