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Published: August 30th 2011
After a hot, sweaty, bumpy and downright awful night of the sleeper train (for some reason I cannot get my head around sleeping on a train and I panic with every bump) we arrived at a much hotter place than Xi'an. We were met by a man named Jim who was to help us with our bags for the day before we board the boat tonight. What actually happened was we headed straight of the boat and dumped our bags off then headed out into Chongqing to explore for the day. We were given some time to freshen up and have breakfast, we had taken a loaf of bread from the apartment and some jam to eat this morning and we enjoyed this in a park that Jim took us too. It was very hot but it was nice hot and for the first time in what seems like te history of China we could see blue sky and even the sun (and we had watched a beautiful sunrise on the train this morning). The classic smog that we had come to know this country by had lifted in this area and it really did lift our spirits too. Chongqing seemed to be a pretty lovely city and nothing at all like we had expected. It almost had an Australian tone to it, especially with their own interpretation of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House on the river.
We spent the morning in the park Jim had taken us to and we also popped into the Three Gorges Museum that was nestled within the park. This place told the story about the Dam on the Yangtze river and took us step by step through all that we would see on our cruise. Due to the construction of the Dam in 2009 it meant that the river flooded many towns and cities on the rivers banks and these people were forceably evicted from their homes. It seemed really sad that the government could do this but the lady in the museum told us how much good the Dam was doing for China's economy. Personally I say stuff the economy and think of the people, epecially as now if the Dam breaks or leaks it will have serious consequences for the city of Yichang as well as other ecological concerns such as the fact that with less water running downstream has affected other things and created earthquakes on a much bigger scale than has ever been witnessed in this part of the world before. The museum was very interesting and it was good to see on a huge map where we will be going at the height of the river as it is now and as it was before 2009. It does appear that whole cities were complately destroyed to make way for this hugely contraversial project.
We spent the rest of the day exploring Chongqing's centre, which was like no where we have been in China yet for it was full of designer shops, highrise buildings and was incredibly clean. The city looked more Western than Asian and we enjoyed popping in and out of the shops that had aircon on high for it had topped 34degrees in the afternoon heat. We grabbed a bite to eat at an Asian food court and headed back to board our boat ready to set sail tonight. We were like a bunch of kids boarding the boat as we were all so excited to be cruising the Yangtze. We were very pleased with the boat, the facilities were excellent and the rooms very nice. There are five decks and there are restaurants, bars, a sauna room, large observation areas and even a kareoke bar and ball room. The boat can hold around 350 people but as we set sail around 9pm we realised that the boat wasn't even half full and there were probably no more than 70 people on board and bar a Sweedish man we were the only white people on ship. We stayed on deck whilst we set sail and left the bright lights of Chongqing behind us ready for our exploration of the Yangtze river for the next couple of days.
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