Two rivers meet at the centre of one of China’s most populated southern cities, Chongqing. They have been a source of life for thousands of years and continue to be a life line for many. Although the countryside has seen changes over the centuries, both the Yangtze and Jialing rivers have been the one constants for people on its banks.

The geographical meeting point of the bodies of water is an area of Chongqing called Ciaotienmen where dozens of ferries wait to carry foreign tourists as well as Chinese middle classes to hot spots up the river. There is a buzz of activity with Bang Bang men (a type of porter thats unique to Chongqing and recognise by by their distinctive bamboo pole) carrying boxes and bags to the boats as well as people hurrying to catch their ride.

Further south along the Yangtze you start to see disused ports scattered along the riverside that have been subsequently relocated to the suburbs, along with major factories inland, with the intention of improving the air quality. However the unhygienic water is still littered with pollutants from people and factories of the many towns and cities.

The Jialing as well as the Yangtze have many people swimming in the polluted waters as an escape from the hot and humid summer days. One local swimmer says that having swam in the river from an early age has built up a tolerance to the water and rarely gets sick as a result of accidentally swallowing water.

Fishing is a popular pleasure activity for many local men and many will use it as a way to spend their days talking to their friends and catching up on gossip. Even though the water is quite dirty there is a variety of fish that still dwell in the murky waters.

As the city becomes more populated by people moving from the countryside to the metropolis, real estate becomes evermore expensive and some business owners having bought large vessels that they have converted to restaurants on the riverbanks.

If these rivers could talk they would have stories of everything from spies escaping the nationalists during the Anti-Japanese war, ships bringing cargo for an army of bang bang men to move around the city and the flooding of the banks to put most of the surrounding city underwater in the 90s and it will see many things in the future, because the one thing that is forever unchanging would be the rivers of Chongqing in a city that is constantly reinventing itself.
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