23.01.2012 13:14

My first trip to the mountain city

My flight lands early in the morning at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport. The airport has seen lot of mileage, but everything works smoothly, and going through the domestic terminal is an easy and quick process. Jiangbei has ambitious plans to be among the world's 15 largest airports when the new Terminal 3A is completed around 2015. With the new terminal, the airport will have the capacity to handle 60 million passengers and two million tonnes of cargo annually.

I get out from the domestic terminal, find the taxi line and jump into a car. I tell the driver, in my limited Mandarin, the Chinese name of the hotel I wish to go to. I receive a wide and friendly smile back from the driver with the comment "Ting, bu dong" which means "I hear you but I don't understand you". As this has happened to me before, I politely smile back and humbly dig out the piece of paper where I have the name and address of the hotel written out in Chinese. I give it to the driver, and off we go.

The airport is located about 21 kilometres north of the city centre. During the taxi ride, I notice the amazing amount of construction going on all over the city. I also notice a number of showrooms for luxury car brands.

Chongqing is intersected by Jialing and Yangtze Rivers, and known throughout China as The Mountain City. Most likely due to large elevation differences, bicycles are scarce here, and motorcycles are a far more common sight. In 1997 Chongqing became the fourth municipality alongside Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, and the city reports directly to the Central Government. It’s consequently no longer part of the Sichuan province.

The entire Chongqing municipality has a population of more than 30 million, but due to the large area on which the city is built, it doesn’t feel any more congested than any other area in China. Chongqing has become one of the key industrial centers in southwest China, and a focal point for China's Go West program, whose goal is to attract investments to the less developed West.

During the next several days I tour around and visit our potential future forwarding partners in Chongqing. I meet many logistics professionals and have many fruitful and interesting discussions. I learn more about the 3 + 6 + 300 project that aims to bring three major brands, six giant ODMs and 300 supporting suppliers to Chongqing. Chongqing has become one of the largest laptop manufacturing centres in the world and it's said that in near future one-fifth of the world’s laptops are made in Chongqing. It is also a large centre for car and motorcycle manufacturing. Its hot industries naturally equal high potential for the demand of Finnair Cargo's air freight services between Chongqing and Europe.

No trip to a new place is complete without tasting some real, local food. Hot Pot is the most famous dish in Chongqing, and it is considered a local specialty. People gather around a small pot filled with flavourful soup and heated by charcoal, electricity or gas. You have a choice between spicy, neutral or a combination of the two for the soup base. Thinly-sliced raw meats, fish, vegetables, tofu etc. are then boiled in the soup. Hot Pot is a bit like the Chinese version of fondue.

I do like spicy food, so I courageously choose the spicy soup base and order a few different meats and some veggies. I notice that I get some curious glances from locals sitting around me; I seem to be the only "laowai," foreigner, in this modest but very cosy restaurant. I also assume that they expect to see my face turn bright red as soon as  I take my first bite. The food does indeed burn on the way down, and the waiter gets a rapid request for a second drink. The meal is simply fantastic. It’s hot, yes, but delicious, and a must-try for any visitor to Chongqing.

I look forward to going back after the Chinese New Year, continuing discussions with industry professionals and spreading information about Finnair Cargo's services!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!! Congratulations and be prosperous!

Finnair will launch direct a service between Helsinki and Chongqing on May 9, 2012.