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Published: November 17th 2014
Heavenly Stream8 Days with Shu Fey- Heavenly Stream and Three Gorges Dam Locks
Docking at the head of the Heavenly Stream
Today dawned misty, foggy as we disembarked our river cruise ship at Wu Gorge. We walk across pontoon gangways and docks to yet another bus waiting to take us to a tributary of the Yangtze, the mouth of the Heavenly Stream.
As we approach a landing for small boats, we file off the bus and walk across a floating platform to a flotilla of small Chinese tour boats painted in yellow and greens. The boats hold about 20 people each and have glass on the sides and roof so that we can see up the steep cliffs of the gorge. All 44 of us piled on to three boats. As we meandered up the gorge it got narrower and narrower. Unfortunately it was raining and misty so the views were a tad blurry ;-) But we could see enough to know the gorge is absolutely beautiful. So green with trails high up the mountainsides coming down to the river. The Goddess Stream is made up of two rivers and the stream. The Guandu, the Ziyang and the Goddess Stream. The entire river is
At village Heavenly Stream
Heavenly Stream west of Yichang
about 18 miles. A six mile section is totally uninhabited as the gorge is too narrow. It is very tropical and primitive looking.
As the gorge narrowed to a point that it would be unnavigable in the next few hundred yards, we came to a very small village with several buildings backed into the walls of the gorge. A hard plastic floating dock was constructed across the gorge and small boats, including ours, pulled up and tied off. This dock floats so it can move as the levels change during the different seasons of the year.
We pulled on our ponchos and stepped onto the undulating plastic dock. Walking toward the steep banks of the shore we could see on a small road above us, a “street market” ;-) People had come down from the hills to sell food stuffs and clothing to each other and the tourists. You can only walk up the steep, muddy road about 25 yards as then it is closed off to tourists. The rain is coming down but it only makes the gorge look more beautiful. We look at the stalls where people are bundled up and have
Lock Three Gorges Dam
First lock from the west- total 5 locks
umbrellas on stands to keep themselves and their products dry. Although the vegetables look beautiful we have no need of them so we walk by. There is a woman selling pretty little paintings of the Heavenly Stream that she has done on shoe insoles ;-) Who would of thought of a shoe insole as a canvas?
We watch our step in the rain and wander back down to the dock to listen to a man playing the trumpet. The mournful tune echoing off the walls of the gorge. Some tourists give him yuan.
There are people who live in the hills behind and along the gorge. They walk the 1000-3000 foot peak footpaths down to the river to go to town now and then on small ferries. School children make the trek in all kinds of weather from their homes (which we could not see as they are well hidden in the foliage of the gorge) to and from school each day. They trek down the dirt paths to the river to catch the school boat and then return the same way at the end of the day, rain or shine. High school students
must leave home and go to school in Fend Du or Chongqing.
Back on our little tour boat, the captain decides to have a race with the other tour boat captains ;-) So, racing back down the canyon, we notice a narrow road above us on the cliffs and try to follow it with our eyes. It just seems to end as it dips down into the river. We guess it used to go to the bottom of the gorge before the river began rising due to the Three Gorges Dam.
Back on the Katarina, we continue downstream through the Yangtze towards the 5 locks at the Three Georges Dam. The scenery is just so spectacular that after a while, we stop taking photos and just sit in awe of the high mountains and pea green Yangtze. We see more “new cities” high on the hills, built to re-locate families when their homes were plunged under water from rising Yangtze. High rise apartment buildings everywhere with cities from 500,000 along the river and up to 33 million people inland.
We arrive at the locks just as the sun is setting. After dinner we went up on deck and watched the first lock being filled with water so that we could enter. Over the next 5-6 hours our ship will do this 5 times. One lock can hold 5 major sized ships. With us in the lock is an ore carrier, a container ship, another cruise ship and a barge. It was very tight in the locks, and Cope and I stood on our balcony and reached out to touch the lock as the water was being released and our ship was descending. As the water is being released down thorough the pipes on the bottom of the lock, there is a loud continuous screaming sound, like large bird in agony. We were so excited to be doing this. Unfortunately it was around midnight and there were still 4 locks to go through so we called it a day. Tomorrow: The Three Gorges Dam
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