The holidays we have, Mark and I, are not holidays in the sense of having a rest. They are usually more like a gruelling marathon. There is nothing restful about travelling on a plane (three 7am flights in our time away so far). There is nothing restful about being on an organised tour - we have been averaging four different activities every day since we arrived 10 days ago. Therefore, on our first morning onboard our Yangtze River cruise on the Victoria Sophia, we decided to miss the onshore tour and instead loll around our capacious suite and later, explore the ship. I spent a good hour reading “H is for Hawk” which I found in a little library in the “Yangtze Club” bar. I decided to ignore the other book which had caught my attention, a small tome on Buddhism and Zen in Italian! I felt completely refreshed after a lazy morning “at home”. The hours spent in silence and away from people have been restorative - I am not built for constant social intercourse with others.
During the afternoon we were taken to the site of the Three Gorges Dam. This engineering feat, like many other sights we have
visited in China, is mammoth in size and scale, however, I will refrain from boring you with statistical data! As I walked around, I recalled the only other big dam I remember visiting many moons ago with my folks outside of Sydney, the Warragamba Dam. Seeing this much much larger dam made me recall that visit and, of course, my mum and dad. I wished they could have seen this amazing country with me. I think they would have found it eye opening. One thing that really impresses me about the Chinese people is how very attentive they are to their babies and to the elderly. It is clear that the family is of utmost importance to them and their commitment to their nation is equally strong. Coming here and learning more about China has made me question some of the preconceived ideas I held. More and more I am learning to appreciate this fascinating place.
On the second day, we actually got to experience the beauty and absolute majesty of sky high gorges. It was a stunning sight and the best part of the cruise. The shore visits are sometimes a little taxing - there are often long flights
of steps to negotiate and the destinations are not always wonderful. But I have very much enjoyed just spending time looking at the limestone cliffs covered in densely wooded forest and green foliage. It was definitely worth going on this cruise just to witness their glory.
On the third day, the heavens had decided to mingle with the earth sharing water and fog in abundance. We might as well have been on a Scottish loch because all we could see around us were low hanging white and ghost grey clouds. One quick shore visit in the morning to the Red Pagoda (called “Pangoda” by yesterday’s guide) at ShiBaoZhai resulted in wet hair, clothing and shoes.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, socialising and reading and in the evening we had a banquet dinner and cabaret show performed in the main by our talented and delightful crew.
As we were leaving, Feng Du just before dinner, the sun appeared just above the mountains on our starboard side. I watched as the world surrounding me, all water, rock, leaf, sky and cloud became golden then silver in a mystical light. An atmospheric moment in time involving the suspension of all
that it means to be a city dweller. The day was retreating and the scene spoke to me of the eternal. The waters of the great river and the enormous sky above were what they have always been and I was fortunate to witness the moment.
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