Published: June 11th 2009June 5th 2009
Our overnight train arrived promptly into Wuchang at 7am. We had all managed to get some rest even if it was disturbed throughout the night. Julie stayed on the train as it was heading to Beijing, as she had decided to go home due to her sister being ill. After getting some breakfast at the station we boarded a coach to take us on the 4 hour journey to Yichang to board the boat, our home for the next few days.
The Yangtze River is the longest river in China and Asia, and the third-longest in the world (over 6000km long), after the Amazon in South America and the Nile in Africa.
We boarded the Silver Moon at 5.30pm, Dodo checked us in and we made our way to our rooms. The boat was about 20 years old and in urgent need of refurbishment, the bedding was clean and there was a western toilet and a shower in our private rooms. We spent the afternoon sat on the top deck socialising with a few beers and eating our noodles for dinner. Before going to bed the boat entered the Three Gorges Dam and it was to
take approximately 5 hours to travel up through the 5 locks.
Dodo had experienced a rat running from her room in the afternoon so we were all a bit apprehensive of going to bed. Unfortunately when we checked our room before going to sleep we noticed suspicious holes and droppings and knew that it wasn't going to be just the 2 of us in the room all night. It was very difficult to trying to get to sleep and we kept hearing something running around. Just as we nearly dropped to sleep we heard some rustling under my bed and a minute later we heard Charlotte scream down the corridor.
The rat had run from the restaurant next to our room, and into Charlotte and Ben's room where it woke Charlotte by running over her in bed! As Oliver moved the furniture in our room the rat appeared and ran behind the television and under the skirting board. Eventually the housekeeping staff were pursued to come and help the situation. Dodo was woken up to help translate, but it was obvious that this happens all the time. They provided us with some cloths to fill holes in the
walls and the massive gaps under the doors and never once apologised.
At about 1am with the rat droppings removed and the beds moved into the centre of the room we tried to get some sleep as we were very tired. It was a very uncomfortable night and we got hardly any sleep despite leaving the lights on.
Morning call was at 6am and we were due to get off the boat at 7am for a tour of a tributary of the Wu Gorge. We left the rat infested boat and boarded a smaller boat that was to take us up the Danning River to see the gorge close up.
We were the only westerners on the boat except for 1 American and we were continually watched and talked about. The Chinese culture is quite different to ours and we have noticed a few things like the spitting, their impatient driving and their queue pushing. Luckily as a group of 11 we can stay together and not feel like aliens in their country.
After an hour we were ushered onto small long wooden boats where 5 men rowed us up through
a small gorge to see the impressive surroundings. The rowers were very fit and did not seem tired from their 4 hour trip from their village to where they met us. They were to take us an hour up stream and then travel the 4 hours back to their homes, they do this twice a week!
The weather was not great, it was overcast and started to rain as we returned to our taxi boat. We were so tired on the way back that 4 of us girls sat on the lower deck and fell asleep during the 1 hour trip back to our cruise boat. We were not impressed to be back on our boat and we were not looking forward to the evening ahead. In the afternoon we tried to rest and occasionally went up on deck to see the passing surroundings in the rain.
The boat stopped at the town of Fengjie for the Chinese passengers to disembark to visit the Baidi City (also known as White King City). None of our group wanted to pay for the excursion so we went to find a restaurant to have some dinner. It was a strange restaurant
and we seemed to be the only customers they had served all day. The sweet and sour was different to what we have enjoyed before but it was still better than a pot noodle back on the boat.
In the evening we took over the corridor on the second floor as we found some chairs, this boat had nowhere inside to sit and socialise. We sat up until 2am playing card games, we learnt how to play Mafia and Poker while drinking shots of 50% proof rice wine that cost Perdy and Donald 80 pence a bottle and the beer was 50 pence a bottle. It was a great night and we all enjoyed having a laugh as it was much more fun than being stuck in our rooms.
Due to the sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption we did get some sleep and got ready to visit the Three Gorges Dam this morning. I have managed to catch Oliver's cold and have felt quite rubbish for a couple of days and don't feel that good today either. The weather was wet and not the best day to be sightseeing. We got off the
boat at Zigui and took a bus to the Three Gorges Dam complex.
The Three Gorges Dam is the largest and most controversial dam in the world. Building of the dam started in 1994 and is not yet finished at a cost over 180 billion Yuen. Over 2 million people were relocated by the Chinese government so this gigantic project could provide a third of the countries power. The annual generating capacity will be 84 billion kilowatt hours.
Today the dam was covered in mist and we missed appreciating the huge structure we had come to see today. However we did get a good view of the locks that we had travelled through the previous day from the viewing platform. The dam is 1983 metres in length, 185 metres wide, and it raises the water level 175 metres.
In the afternoon we travelled back to Yichang where we checked into our hotel and enjoyed an afternoons rest and a good shower. Dodo took us to a modern Chinese hotpot buffet restaurant for our dinner. Each of us were provided with a soup and burner so that we could then cook our own meal. It was like a
fondue where we got shaved pieces of lamb meat, vegetables and noodles that you dropped into the soup to cook. We enjoyed the meal, the local black beer (a stout beer) and the ice cream for desert.
Today we had a lie in before finding breakfast near the hotel in Yichang. We were very disappointed to arrive at McDonald's 15 minutes after they stopped serving breakfast! After packing and checking out of the hotel we went to the local Spar supermarket to buy provisions for the evenings night train. We left for the train at 1pm and kept ourselves entertained for the afternoon on the train before trying to get some sleep.
There are more photos below