Asia, Backpacking, China

Backpacking Chongqing China

brian and paz china travelsTraveling Chongqing China

Traveling to Chongqing China is the experience of a lifetime. Chongqing has a population of twenty nine million people. Think about that for a moment. That’s over 50% more than the population of the metropolitan New York City area. Yet, nine out of ten Americans (including us before Hesh encouraged us to visit) have not heard of the city!

Chongqing features the confluence of two of China’s greatest rivers, the Jialing River and Yangtze River. Thus Chongqing is known as the “city on the rivers.” As in most areas of China, we were greeted with warm smiles, open arms, and lots of positive energy from the Chinese people!

Where is Chongqing

Chongqing is in central China near the infamous Tibetan Plateau. Chongqing is approximately 1,100 miles away from both Beijing (in the northeast) and Shanghai (in the east). This is about same distance as NYC to Orlando, FL.

Where is Chongqing China

What’s Unique About Chongqing China?

  • The spicy food and the spicy women! Chongqing is known for hot, spicy food, especially “hot pot” dishes. Chongqing is also infamous for aggressive women.
  • The sheer number of people (29 million people in Chongqing metropolitan area)
  • The confluence of two major rivers (Jialing River and Yangtze River)
chongqing Huayan Scenic Resort

Beautiful Temple in Chongqing

chongqing building

Brian in front of Chongqing Library

Only in China:

All of our posts about traveling China include an “Only in China” section where we try to share with you the most ridiculous, random, hilarious oddities of traveling this wonderfully wild country!

ducks in chongqing china

Ducks outside a restaurant in Chongqing

ma jong in chongqing china

Chinese Families eating dinner and playing Ma Jong

duck in chongqing

The ducks have been trained to eat and then return to their owners

chongqing man carrying refridgerator

Getting a workout in?

backpacking chongqing

The alleyway where the hostel is located, the Chinese are creative in transporting goods!

love never fails cross in china

Gods love shining on us in the middle of China

god loves the world chongqing

The Chinese often struggle with English translations but not this time :)

hot pot history in china

Last line: “How surprised it is!” A more typical Chinese translation ;)

chongqing china construction

Massive amounts of skyscrapers going up in Chongqing

chongqing china fashion dog in shoes

Chinese woman’s dog all dolled up ;)

china gamers addicted

Chinese “gamers” in a dark secluded internet gaming lounge #addicted

brian lucid practice monkey in chongqing

Brian with a monkey on the streets of Chongqing

chongqing boat tour

A view of Chongqing from our boat cruise on the Yangtze River


Large building in Chongqing where the two rivers converge

Where to Stay in Chongqing China

Now back to Chongqing….. Chongqing has many high quality, inexpensive hostels. We stayed at Chongqing Urban Trails Youth Hostel and highly recommend it.

Urban Youth Hostel is difficult to find because it is tucked in inside a narrow alleyway that cars cannot drive on. Once you get there, you’ll find a simple (in a good way), inexpensive, clean hostel in the heart of Chongqing.

My favorite part about this hostel was the friendliness of the staff, particularly an employee named Tiger Tang. All of the hostel staff were helpful (giving us the local lowdown on where to go, what to see, etc) and outgoing. They were so curious to talk to Americans because 1) They’re from Chongqing (see below on nightclub experience) and 2) They’re always trying to improve their English 3) The intrigue factor because so few Americans travel to Chongqing.

backpacking chongqing

The alleyway where Urban Youth Hostel is located

Weather in Chongqing China

The weather in Chongqing China is very moderate except for the summer when it gets very hot and humid. The winters are mild. The ideal times to visit Chongqing are from March through May or September through November.

Getting Around Chongqing

You have options. Since transportation is government subsidized in China, taxis are very cheap. You can also get around Chongqing by bus or subway. Chongqing subways are immaculately clean, efficient, and FAST.

Top 4 things to do in Chongqing China

1.Eat spicy Chongqing hot pot!

Hot pot is an experience anywhere in China but Chongqing’s hot pot is the most unique hot pot in the entire country. Due to the Sichuan peppers that are used, Chongqing hot pot spices create a unique sensation taste that is indescribable. If you do nothing else in Chongqing, eat hot pot! Note: Vegetarians can access hot pot too. Veggies are cooked in the hot pot, not just meat/fish.

hot pot in china

Traditional Chinese hot pot meal, The searing hot spicy broth cooks the raw meat/veggies/fish


hot pot in chongqing china

Cooking our own Hot Pot in Chingqing

chongqing hot pot

Brian cooking Hot Pot in a Chongqing restaurant

friendly chinese peoplein chongqing

Blurry photo of Paz enjoying hot pot with another Chinese patron

2. Go out to a Chongqing night club

We were planning on going back to the hostel after dinner but happened to stumble upon a night club. We were wearing athletic shorts and tee shirts but still decided to stop in. We figured it would be uneventful and that we’d stay for five minutes or so.

In most cultures, it is the men who are the aggressors. In Chongqing, it is the opposite… and boy are they aggressive. Go out to a bar or night club and they will probably approach you and want to take photos, hang out all night…. all despite the fact that most don’t speak a lick of English.

The great part about Chongqing is even if you don’t know anyone, you will within two minutes of entering a social scene. Whether it’s a bar, restaurant, or store, most people are outgoing and curious. This made for a great night and an opportunity to meet people and spread positive energy.

chongqing spicy women

The Chongqing “Spicy Women


chongqing china club

DJ in Chongqing nightclub

chongqing china club

Not a lick of English but smiles are universal :)


chongqing club

The crowd erupted when the famous singer made an impromptu performance

3. Check out Jiefangbei Square

Chongqing’s premier shopping district. You can always get a good sense of a city by its markets and stores.

chongqing china palace

The View of Jeifang Bei from our boat cruise

4. Visit the Chongqing Golden Chinese Buddha

Huayan Scenic Resort golden Buddha

Golden Buddha in Chongqing China

Food in Chongqing China, What to Eat:

  • Fresh seafood from the fisherman and hot pot. Located at the confluence of two major rivers, Chongqing has amazingly fresh seafood.
  • Check out a new niche food that has sprung up in the past few years, Indian rotis!

chongqing indian roti

indian roti in chongqing

Chongqing Indian Roti Artist at Work!

food in chongqing

This guy was awesome!

chongqing china indian roti

Indian Roti maker bringing the Positive Energy All Day!

indian roti in china

Paz Enjoying the Finished Product, Indian Roti with Banana :)

  • Goji Berries. Heralded as a superfood in the West, the Chinese rarely eat Goji Berries. Instead, they are used for medicinal purposes in Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal. Chongqing is relatively close to the Himalayas, goji berries are dirt cheap here (about 20x cheaper than at a Whole Foods Market in the US where they sell for $21.99 USD per pound)
goji berries in chongqing china

A Woman Grabbing me a Handful of Goji Berries in a Chongqing Market

Average Daily Cost of Travel in Chongqing China: $31 Per Day

Hostel: $15 USD Food: $14 USD Transportation: $2 USD

Visiting Chongqing China

Overall, is a crazy, interesting, unique city and probably the biggest city you’ve never heard of. We met friendly, open people and ate amazing food without paying a lot. Here are some of our other posts on traveling:

Traveling to China for the first time? Post a question in the comments section below, we’ll respond with advice! If you liked this post, please share it with friends and leave a comment!


Paz Romano

Co~creator of Lucid Practice, former college football player, yoga practitioner, world traveler. I’m passionate about big ideas, genuine conversation, non~conformity, spirituality/religion, helping others, and learning…. always learning.

Latest posts by Paz Romano (see all)

best gifts for travelers

Best Gifts for World Travelers

Best Gifts for World Travelers

A couple years ago, I received an awesome surprise gift from my cousin and this prompted me to think of the best gifts for world travelers. My cousin Anna had me in our family’s “Secret Santa” or “Chris Kringle” gift exchange. Although I didn’t ask for anything, she knew what to get me: a book and a map. I had just returned from a 3 month trip around Asia and Anna was thoughtful enough to give me these thought provoking, mind~expanding gifts. It got me thinking that I could create a concise list of gifts that travelers will especially appreciate. Here’s what I came up with as a list of the best gifts for world travelers:

The 5 Best Gifts for World Travelers

1. Books

If you’re a world traveler, chances are you are curious and open minded. What better gift than a book? A good friend once told Brian and me that the greatest gift you can possibly give someone is a book because it has the potential to expand their mind. I suggest either a travel book, a book that can enhance their character, or a book that might alter their perspective on life. Here are a few suggestions:

Travel Books:

The Beach
Into the Wild
Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Philosophy Books:

Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama
The Holy Bible (this version is recommended by my dear cousin, Bob)
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life

2. A World Map

Chances are, if your gift recipient is a world traveler, they’re fascinated by maps. Give them a map and watch them start telling stories of their travels, where they’ve been, where they’ll go. World maps might seem cliché to some but in reality, each world map is a bit different…. some are vastly different (see photo at the top of this post, image credit to: valeriepieris on reddit). I’ll never forget seeing this map before Brian and I made our trip to Asia.

Give your loved one the map & watch them instantly become magnetized to it. Brian has been known to pick out a spot on a map and “go there” mentally…. Visualizing being there for a short or a long while. This is indeed a lucid practice ;)

3. A More localized map

A map of a special place is one of the best gifts for world travelers. Getting a world traveler a map of one of their favorite countries or favorite cities. Travelers love closely examining maps of the countries, cities, and towns that they’ve been to. Remember, there are vintage maps, pocket maps, wall maps, all sorts of maps…. So get creative!

best gifts for world travelers

Local Map of Italy, image credit: Shutterstock

4. Travel Yoga Mat

Many of our readers practice yoga but even if you don’t, it is nice to have a mat for exercising while on the road. Who knows, maybe your trip around the world will be in your inspiration to take up the practice of yoga. If you have a mat, it will be that much more accessible. All yoga mats are not created equally… some can be difficult to travel with while others are very convenient. For more on travel yoga mats, click the link to read the great post that our friends Brandon and Anne wrote on this.

5. Printed Photos

Travelers love seeing the photos from their journey. It instantly brings back memories of great times. Check their blog or Facebook page for photos from their trips. Consider blowing up a photo and framing it for them or creating an entire album. If it’s that extra special person, invest a few days to make them a travel collage like the on Brian made in this post. Photos are tangible and practical, they’re involved in the recipient’s everyday life. Photos are last but definitely not least on our list of best gifts for world travelers.

For most, the best gifts for world travelers will probably be inexpensive gifts — but also very thoughtful gifts. The key to making a lasting impact on a traveler is to touch their heart and/or to make them think more deeply.

Please note that there are no “affiliate links” in this post. In other words, we are not compensated by anyone if you are to click the links within this post and make a purchase. We’re simply hoping to assist you in finding meaningful gifts for loved ones :)

Have you ever given/received any of these best gifts for travelers?
What are other thoughtful gift ideas for travelers?
Let us know in the comments section :)


Paz Romano

Co~creator of Lucid Practice, former college football player, yoga practitioner, world traveler. I’m passionate about big ideas, genuine conversation, non~conformity, spirituality/religion, helping others, and learning…. always learning.

Latest posts by Paz Romano (see all)


Human beings are like plants, they eventually get to where they are meant to be.



I'm Brian. I hope to live simply and enjoy the present moment.

I was first introduced to Paramahansa Yoganada in 2010 by a friend.

He loaned me the Essence of Self Realization which I eventually read and enjoyed.

When Steve Jobs died, I read in Walter Issacon’s autobiography of Steve, that Jobs had re-read one book every year; Autobiography of a Yogi. Being inspired by Jobs’s life and being, Autobiography of a Yogi, made its way on to my list of books to read.

This year I had the opportunity to read Autobiograpgy of a Yogi while traveling in Panama. I loved the book and look forward to seeing this movie.

Yogananda’s life was special. He too led a Jesus-Christ like life….a life of love and trust. I think that anyone who is inspired by faith, love, happiness, and peace would potentially like the story as well.

Faith, Love

Reaching the 2nd half of life – Dying before you die

I’m not always one to share my opinion…because I feel I don’t really know anything. I do spend a lot of time thinking about this life.

Why not?

Today we were talking about the concept of being at peace and “dying before you die.”

I tend to think a lot about practicing death. If I were to die today, have I lived my life to the fullest? Did I touch people?

Gandhi said it so well when he said,

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

How many times have you heard this beautiful quote? It has withstood the test of time and it will continue to be a great thought process for all of us.

I enjoy switching the first word of both sentences with the word LOVE.

Love as if you were to die tomorrow. Love as if you were to live forever.

Love everyday unconditionally because you have one opportunity in this life, this moment. We may be gone tomorrow.

Richard Rohr’s quote, ‘God I give myself to you one more time. You are not taking away my life. I am giving mine to you,’ in my opinion  is simply amazing. This is Trust 101. Because once we reach this point of peace, this point of eternal love, Rohr is right, we are trusting in a bigger path and we’re trusting that we do not ultimately control this life. It speaks to being at peace with the moment, being at peace with your enemies, and being at peace with yourself because at the end of the day, why were you born? Why do we die? Who is in control of those two events? I trust that it is something way Bigger than myself.

I love how our friend BC talks about this loving, God-aware thought process as ‘the second half of life.’ The first half is filled with wants and opportunities to feed your ego, trying to be better than your neighbor. Peaceful humans, ’2nd half of life’ humans, are the ones who have begun to Trust and live for the minute, live for each other, and live like today is all we got.

I’m not sure I will ever fully see my 2nd half of life, a day where I fully trust and not worry or want more, but I feel thinking about it is moving me there. I’m grateful for these moments where I can lucidly feel something Bigger controlling my life.

I did some light research on ‘dying before you die’ and the first thing that came up was this awesome quote from Rumi titled Die Before you Die.

O Generous Ones,
Die before you die,
even as I have died before death
and brought this reminder from Beyond.

Become the resurrection of the spirit
so you may experience the resurrection.

This becoming is necessary
for seeing and knowing
the real nature of anything.

Until you become it,
you will not know it completely,
whether it be light or darkness.

If you become Reason,
you will know Reason perfectly

If you become Love,
you will know Love’s flaming wick.

~ Rumi

Die before you die. Trust. Love yourself. Love others.  Bring that positive energy (PE) every damn day. Why not?

Any thoughts?!?



I'm Brian. I hope to live simply and enjoy the present moment.
Gluten Free Muffins Orange Almond Coconut.
Food, Wellness

Gluten Free Muffins: Orange Almond Coconut

Delicious Gluten Free Orange Almond Coconut Muffins

These delicious gluten free muffins are an amazing dessert/snack that won’t leave you feeling bloated or tired afterwards. It’s entirely possible to make good tasting, healthy sweets!

Instead of regular white flour which is highly processed and generally unhealthy, in this recipe, we turn to a combination of brown rice flour, almond flour, and arrowroot. The flavors of orange, coconut and almond blend nicely here. Instead of refined sugar, you can use maple syrup and sucanat for a subtle backnote of sweetness.

Serve these gluten free muffins for breakfast, brunch, dessert or an afternoon snack. This recipe will yield 10 muffins.

Gluten Free Muffins Ingredients:

1 cup (177 g/6.25 oz) brown rice flour
2/3 cup (58 g/2 oz) almond flour
1/2 cup (70 g/2.46 oz) arrowroot
1/3 cup (56 g/2 oz) Sucanat
2 tsp (10 g/0.34 oz) baking powder
1/2 tsp (1.5 g/0.05 oz) kosher salt
1/3 cup (100 g/3.5 oz) maple syrup
1/2 cup (121 g/4.3 oz) orange juice
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 tsp (6 g/0.21 oz) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (42 g/1.5 oz) chopped almonds
1/4 cup (21 g/0.75 oz) unsweetened shredded coconut

Gluten Free Muffins Orange Almond Coconut.

Fernanda’s Gluten Free Orange Almond Coconut Muffins

Gluten Free Muffins Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 10 cups in a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners, or grease them well with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, mix together the brown rice flour, almond flour, arrowroot, Sucanat, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center, then add the maple syrup, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ones, mixing just until blended. Stir in the almonds and coconut.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling them two-thirds full, and smooth the top of each muffin. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan, set on a wire rack, for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Please leave a comment in the comments section if you have any questions!

Have fun and bake with love! Enjoy :)


Fernanda Capobianco

Journalist and native of Brazil, Fernanda Capobianco founded Vegan Divas, an upscale vegan, animal free, non cholesterol, organic, kosher and parve, low calories and delicious line of baked goods and desserts. Vegan Divas is located in the Upper Eastside of New York City. Fernanda had a clear goal from the beginning: "It has been my dream to create gourmet pastries with the quality, taste and presentation similar to those offered by the best gourmet bakeries but as healthy baked goods.”

Vegan Divas has thousands of customers who enjoy vegan food including prominent figures such as Anne Hatthaway, Bill Clinton, and Mike Tyson. Fernanda recently did the Clinton Foundation event for 2,000 people.

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3 Ayurvedic Cleansing Techniques You Can Start Using Today

3 Ayurvedic Cleansing Techniques to Implement Today

Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of life that has been used for over 4000 years. Here are three simple Ayurvedic cleansing techniques that you can begin today. These techniques may seem odd or complex, but once learned, they are easy to understand and execute. These three Ayurvedic cleansing techniques are the basic tenants of daily Ayurvedic hygiene.

1. Ayurvedic Tongue Scraping

If you thought brushing your teeth in the morning & evening was sufficient for oral health, think again. Tongue scraping is the perfect supplement to flossing and teeth brushing. Tongue scraping is one of the most efficient Ayurvedic cleansing techniques. Tongue scraping is basic and easy, yet so important.

The tongue plays crucial roles in healthy body functioning. As you sleep each night, toxins accumulate on your tongue. Every morning, as soon as you wake up (before brushing your teeth), use your tongue scraper to remove the layer of toxins.

Depending on the individual, Ayurveda recommends recommends a copper, gold, or silver tongue scraper.

For beginners, you can simply start with a stainless steel tongue scraper or even a plastic tongue scraper from your local pharmacy or grocery market.

As an added benefit, removing the phlegm from your tongue each day will improve your breath. ;)

2. Ayurvedic Oil Pulling

Ayurvedic oil pulling is a terrific way to cleanse your mouth. Through consistent oil pulling, your teeth, tongue, and gums will be cleansed. Oil pulling is one of the more simple, inexpensive, ancient Ayurvedic cleansing techniques. Oil pulling will cleanse your mouth in ways that brushing your teeth does not.

To oil pull, bring a spoonful of vegetable or coconut oil to your mouth and use it as you would mouthwash. Gargle the oil for fifteen to twenty minutes. Spit the oil out (not in sink because it can cause clogs in drains) and brush your teeth immediately after to rid your mouth of toxins.

Warning: Do not swallow the oil! The oil is full of toxins after swishing around in your mouth for twenty minutes.

Check out our post here on the Benefits of Oil Pulling.

3. Ayurvedic Neti Pot Cleansing

Some of the benefits of Ayurvedic Neti Pot Cleaning include:

  • Flushing of harmful matter (i.e. dirt, dust, bacteria, etc.)
  • Increase in the flow of prana (energy)
  • Improved breathing
  • Improved sense of hearing
  • Natural alternative to sinus medication

How to start using a Neti Pot:

Purchase a neti pot from an Ayurvedic store or even your local pharmacy. Fill the neti pot to the correct level with warm water (after it has boiled and cooled) and pharmaceutical grade salt.

Put the spout of the neti pot in your nostril and lean your head slightly forward. Tilt your head to a 45 degree angle. This will ensure that gravity will assist and your nasal passage will be cleansed with ease. The water enters in one nostril and out the other. As soon as the water is gone, refill the neti pot with water and salt and repeat on the opposite nostril.

ayurvedic cleansing techniques

Woman using Ayurvedic Neti Pot, image courtesy: zogayoga

Neti pot cleansing should be practiced with care and meticulous attention. It can be dangerous otherwise.

Advice for using neti pot effectively:

  • Use 100% sea salt or pharmaceutical grade salt that has been manufactured specifically for Ayurvedic Neti Pot Cleansing.
  • Use filtered water. Warning: Do not use tap water for Neti Pot cleansing. Tap water may contain trace contaminants that can cause significant harm. Use Distilled water and boil it.
  • Clean your neti pot with hot, filtered water after each usage. Dry your neti pot with a paper towel and store in a dry, cool, dark place.
  • Do not cover one nostril and blow nose
  • The water should be warm but comfortable, you don’t want to burn your nasal passage.
  • The ratio between water and salt is also important. Do not use use too much or too little salt.

Note: I have recently implemented Neti Pot cleansing as a tool to improve athletic performance. Before every basketball game, I cleanse my nasal passage with my Neti Pot. The results have been great as I can breathe so much easier. My stamina has increased tenfold.

Here is our preferred Neti Pot.

We hope you implement these Ayurvedic Cleansing Techniques to feel more alive, well, healthy, and lucid.

What is your experience in using these (or other) Ayurvedic Cleansing Techniques?



Paz Romano

Co~creator of Lucid Practice, former college football player, yoga practitioner, world traveler. I’m passionate about big ideas, genuine conversation, non~conformity, spirituality/religion, helping others, and learning…. always learning.

Latest posts by Paz Romano (see all)