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Published: September 25th 2005
Monday, September 12, 2005 Weather: Hazy in the morning but clearing later. Temps: Hot.
The Century Sky sailed promptly at 7:00 a.m. on the busy Yangtze River. There is a lot of commercial traffic on this river and many other cruise ships. The Century Sky is by any measure the newest and nicest ship on the river. During the morning hours we cruised the river above the Gorges and had a running commentary on the Sun Deck from the Cruise Director, Mark. He is most knowledgeable about the river and provided some interesting observations about life in China along the waterways.
As we sailed down the river we observed a cruise ship high on the rocks! It was reportedly the Galaxy 2 that had been carrying a group of German tourists and had foundered when the Captain tried to pass another vessel. Fortunately, no lives were lost. But I think that a ship was lost! And probably a Captain lost his job. (See photos below.)
By early afternoon we arrived at the Shibaozhai Temple which is a huge 12 story Pagoda attached to a sheer cliff overlooking the river. Tours were offered to the Pagoda that required a
A city with buildings that will be underwater.
great deal of step climbing. We enjoyed the view from below.
In order to get to the Pagoda entrance from the ship it is necessary to traverse a path that is lined with vendors selling their wares. Here the dollar is king! Everything is being hawked for "One Dollah!" We were warned about the vendors by Mark, the Cruise Director, who referred to them jokingly as his "cousins." Our stay there was brief and our time was utilized for souvenir shopping. We came away with trinkets for the grandchildren not spending more than a few dollars at each stop.
We then returned to our glistening white ship that again set sail downstream for more scenic cruising. Tonight is the Captain's Welcoming Dinner. Prior to dinner the passengers were invited to the Observation Lounge where free cocktails were being served. To enter it was necessary to run the obligatory gauntlet of the ship's Officers and Staff to shake hands and be welcomed in Chinese. Our second Western Dinner came this evening and was enjoyed by all. A choice of wines was offered at dinner each night. We thought them to be a rather limited selection and quite pricey at
I'll have mine on the rocks, Captain!
$5-6 per glass that was about half filled. Bottles were in the $30-40 range.
A brief word about the ship. There is a small area off of the Atrium on the second deck that is dedicated to four computers. If you wish to send or check email you can try to do so at a cost of 40 RMB per hour ($5.00 US). The signal is sent via cell phone where service is available. It is reported to be very slow. Charges run from the time that you tell the desk to "dial in" until you call them and ask to be disconnected. We did not see anyone using the computers during the times that we passed the area.
Our entertainment this evening was a variety show put on by the crew. They did a remarkable job of singing, dancing and clowning around. Considering how much they work during the day it was an extraordinary effort to put on a show that included many costumes and obviously well rehearsed dance numbers. They were well received by the audience.
Next: The Big Gorges and the Little Gorges.
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