These carts are owned by “bang bang jun” – or “stick soldiers”, who make their living carrying heavy objects up and down Chongqing’s steep hills using a bamboo staff with a length of rope tied around it. A minimal, and backbreaking, setup.
They are a sidewalk fixture, and are often seen in the service of individuals across Chongqing engaged in tasks from hauling groceries home from the store to carrying a pair of 20-liter water jugs up multiple flights of stairs to an apartment. Spend some time observing around dense commercial and pedestrian-only areas, however, and one will immediately notice their role in making commercial local short-distance logistics work as well.
These carts are lashed to the railing at the entrance of an underground parking garage out front of a busy shopping mall. Their owners loiter nearby, waiting for an assignment, which could come either from customers leaving the store with heavy goods or from one of the mall’s stores requiring help unloading a shipment from their supplier’s cargo truck (in which case they are called back to the loading bay behind the building).
The heaviest object the stick soldier I was speaking to ever had to move was a safe. Though his destination was an apartment only five minutes’ walk away, transporting the safe by his pull-cart ended up being a 15 minute journey, not including the stairs he had to team up with another stick soldier to conquer. That assignment netted him 40 kuai (US $6.35), though usual fares are around half that amount.