8 Days with Shu Fey -The Three Gorges Dam

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November 17th 2014
Published: November 17th 2014
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8 Days with Shu Fey -The Three Gorges Dam

Our last day on the Yangtze started off with a trip to the Three Georges Dam. Winding our way by bus over the river and up the mountainside we finally reach the security building where we go through metal detectors and emerge on the other side of the building. Our tour bus has gone through security too and meets us on the back of the building. Next stop, up the winding road to the visitor’s center. Lots of tour buses. Inside the visitors center our local guide takes us to a huge replica of the Yangtze River, the Three Gorges Dam and the 5 locks. She tells us the history. What an incredible feat of engineering. It took 10 years to build the dam and locks and is the largest construction project and the largest water conservancy project ever undertaken in the world. There are 26 generators producing power for millions of people in central China. The three purposes of the dam are flood control, hydro-electric power generation and navigational improvement along the Yangtze River and its tributaries. Through-out Chinese history, floods along the Yangtze regularly threatened and brought devastation to the 15 million people that live in the rich agricultural regions below the dam.

We exit the visitor’s center and start up 4 levels of outdoor escalators that will take us to the top of a peak overlooking the dam and the locks. We are awestruck as we step off and look upriver. We can see the long, long Three Gorges Dam and the wide Yangtze River to our left and below us to our right, the 5 locks that we traversed last night.

The building of the dam created a reservoir 400 miles long that stretches clear back to Chongqing where we got on the river cruise and saw the pandas. Approximately 1.3 million people had to be relocated and new cities and apartments built for them, thus all of the “new” houses/apartments we saw for 3 days along the river.

As the Three Gorges Dam was built down river, the river began to rise and flood cities. In order to re-locate people the Chinese government began building cities higher up the hills of the Yangtze and relocating thousands and thousands of people to new apartments or
5 Locks5 Locks5 Locks

Looking downriver toward Shanghai
farmland. The government built new bridges and infrastructure along the river. As we traveled down the river we saw new cities up the hills. 1.4 million Chinese people were displaced by the construction of the dam. What is interesting is that many of the new apartments do not appear to be occupied. No, curtains or laundry hanging outside.

The total cost of the Three Gorges Dam project was $27 billion and dramatically improved the conditions for barges and shipping along the Yangtze River. The dam has brought more jobs and prosperity to many who live and work in the region. Millions of acres of farm land were covered with water so farmers moved higher in the hills. That said, the people we talked to, and the guides that we listened to, said that there was more positive impact than negative.

The dam is complete except for an elevator that is being built for small to medium sized ships to bypass the locks. They will be put into gigantic containers and the entire container full of ships and water will be raised and lowered in the elevator. Not easy or cheap to accomplish, but will
Cope and JeanCope and JeanCope and Jean

Viewpoint at the Three Gorges Locks
further improve navigation and shipping traffic. Another interesting thing is that they don’t have a fish ladder. As many of you know, we have fish ladders for instance, for salmon. Salmon can jump up the ladders. Chinese Carp cannot jump so they can’t use ladders. We don’t really know understand how this impacts the fish.

We walked to a higher viewpoint and watched the ships going through the locks. The views from the dam and of the dam were spectacular. Cope bought a DVD about the construction of the dam and can’t wait to get home and see it and share it with anyone who likes this type of thing ;-)

Time to rejoin our ship for the last leg of our journey. Onboard we have our lunch, buy a few trinkets and check out. We have reached Yichang, China. Saying our goodbye’s to crew members we disembarked and took a bus to the train station to catch the bullet train to Wuhan.

The bullet train took us only 2 hours as we traveled at 125 miles per hour. Smooth, quiet. We passed hundreds of small farms, all being worked by hand. We only saw 2 small tractors the entire way. We passed many small villages and small cities. Arriving in Wuhan around 5pm we were very surprised to see a beautiful, modern, uncrowded rail station. Nice. Once again, a bus was waiting for us and we made our way through the modern, beautiful financial district of Wuhan to the Shangri-La hotel. Every hotel has been 5 star on this trip and the Shangri La was no exception. Lovely room overlooking the city. Dinner was buffet style in the hotel. We were all glad to call it an early night ;-) Luggage out at 11:00 pm.

Tomorrow: Winging our way back to Beijing


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