Sailing through the 3 Gorges

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March 1st 2015
Published: June 22nd 2017
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Geo: 30.7, 111.28

Our second full day on the Yangtze was spent sailing through the 3 Gorges. Spectacular steep mountains, some still with snow on the top. Many farmers were relocated higher up the mountain as the Dam raised the water level. However the soil is not as good higher up and how they subsist I cannot imagine. We could see tea grown on terraces. I think these Gorges would be really pretty in May or September. They are still impressive but it was very cold and windy outside on the ship. After lunch we left the ship and went onto smaller boats which took us up the Goddess River, a narrow tributary of the Yangtze. Their sailing was definitely worse than their driving as we collided several times with other boats! High up in the cliffs you can see caves in which wooden coffins have been found. The only way these coffins could have been placed was by letting them down on ropes and with climbers to push them into the caves. At one point we got off the boats onto a floating plastic pontoon and all the guides lined up and sang Chinese songs. After that there was the Chinese equivalent of the conga. It was the first time we had ever seen the Chinese in any sort of a line! As soon as it was finished and it was time to get back onto the boats they reverted to their herd instinct and piled back onto the boats in the usual push and shove manner. I am surprised no one fell off the pontoon.

The last evening on the ship was the Captains farewell dinner which was table service instead of a buffet. It started at 7pm but as we turned up dead on time we were still the last in and were clapped in as though we were the bride and groom! As it was table service, we were placed with a lovely Chinese family. It was grandmas 70th birthday so we all sang the usual and out came the cake. After dinner there were dances and games. I joined in at the Chinese equivalent of musical chairs without the chairs, which meant that as the music stopped we had to get into groups of people according to the number called. I had a great time grabbing little people to form my group and did very well but then got knocked out as inevitably we had to let the kids win. Still it was fun.

We had to be up really early on the last morning as we moored just above the locks which were closed for repair. This meant that instead of spending 3 hours passing through the locks we were actually coached to the other side of the locks in order to see the 3 Gorges Dam project. 1.3 million people were relocated as a result of building this dam. The planning must have been immense as every person relocated was given a new home by the government. The area around the actual dam itself is immense and has all been landscaped. A whole town was built in order to house all the people building the dam. We were taken up several escalators to a high viewing platform to oversee the dam and the locks. There is also a higher platform (more steps of course!) which we went up to get better views. We did not get to see the turbines which we have seen when we have visited a previous dam in Canada so why we had to pass through an elaborate security I do not know.

The bus dropped us in Yichang where the ship would have dropped us had the lock not been closed and we were picked up by another driver and guide. We had wanted to train down to Wuhan but in the end could not get a ticket so had to hire a driver to take us on the rather long drive. We stopped on the way for lunch and had a huge smart table all to ourselves. We had a huge dish of boiled rice and two other dishes of spicy beef and chicken which were very tasty but we couldn't eat it all. No wine so washed down with the local beer and tea costing in all about £12 – not bad –cheapest meal so far.

On the way to the airport, Nancy took us to see where they made embroidery out of the finest silk thread I have ever seen. It really was beautiful but very expensive. It was then a tedious drive to the airport and flight from Wuhan to Guilin. At least we could have dinner in the lounge. It is worthwhile travelling business class in China not only for the usual food and comfortable chairs in the lounge, but you are taken separately to the plane, bypassing hoypolloi at the gate and put on a VIP bus right to the plane. As usual we were the only westerners aboard. It was after midnight when we arrived so all we wanted to do was get to bed. Our next guide was Jason who met us at the airport and whisked us to the Waterfall hotel a lovely large modern hotel with large bedroom and large comfy bed, which we fell into straight away in order to ready ourselves for the next adventure.

Additional photos below
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3rd March 2015

Have you been mistaken for Prince William yet?
3rd March 2015

grand dame on a dame - and yes, certainly more colourful!

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