From the tranquility and peace of Tokyo we have descended into the chaos and carnage of Chongqing. Hello from China!
Fresh out of qualifiers from this morning, I wanted to share a little bit about our stay with you!
I have been pretty open about this in the past, Chongqing (pronounced Chong Ching) is the round that I 'struggle' with the most. Not because of the competition, there's nothing wrong with that, but I find being in the city itself really difficult to deal with - certainly in terms of competition preparation etc.
First of all, it's crowded. Incredibly crowded. The population is actually hidden on Google ... but estimates put it at around 33,000,000 people. THIRTY THREE MILLION! That's four times the population of central London. That is A LOT of people. In fact, I think it makes it the city with the biggest population in the world, certainly one of the top ones anyway. It's very loud and very busy.
The second thing I find difficult here is the culture-shock. It is VERY different out here to anything or anywhere else in the world I have been. There is the inane and harmless, like seeing sandwiches filled with strawberries and cream - yes you read that correctly. To the more worrying and intimidating. There is a lot of gratuitous drinking and smoking, a lot of it. Especially from the men. In fact, every meal we have been out for so far, the next table has been occupied by very drunk Chinese men. Having our coach, Mark, with us on the tour in Switzerland & Japan felt like a luxury after previous seasons - his support is invaluable. However, here in Chongqing, having him around feels like a necessity, he's felt a but like our bodyguard - thanks Mark.
The third thing that I struggle with ... SMOG. I'm not a 'big city person' in general, but seeing the amount of filth here is insane. I have never seen anything like it. The heat is pretty intense, it's very humid! The locals try to make the city look pretty, there are flowers around and often parts of the roads are planted with lots of greenery, but there is no escaping the dirt. Every time we return to the hotel, we routinely clean our faces and the baby wipes are black with grime.
Now I am conscious that I sound a little bit 'moaney' here ... and I want to say this, please do not think for a second that I am not incredibly grateful to be out here representing our country. Truly, I feel privileged and honoured and proud. I just want to be real and honest while I am on this journey. I want to let you know some of the things that we are up against when we are on our tour.
Looking a positive from this leg of the trip ... our hotel is SIGNIFICANTLY nicer than last year, which is making a huge difference to our state of mind. We spent a lot of time looking for somewhere that would be comfortable to hang-out, because ultimately, we are spending most of our time in our room, trying to stay free from illness, injury or otherwise!
I'm really excited to be through to my third semi-finals of the season which take place tomorrow (UK local time is around 2am), unfortunately they WILL NOT be streamed live, but there will be replays available on the IFSC YouTube channel. The trailer for the event is here:
Thank you to everyone for your support, like I have said before, your messages, tweets, comments etc are really powerful and remind me that there are so many of you behind us this season! THANKS AGAIN.
Once finals are over we will be flying home. Departing on Monday for the UK!!! It'll be our first time home in a month and I am really excited to get back for a quick hit of normality for a few days ... before we leave for Mumbai, INDIA! What a season!
Stay in touch, LC x
If you are interested ... here a some iPhone shots from a taxi drive around the city ...