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CHINA | Monday, 15 April 2013 | Views [338] | Comments [1]

 You will no doubt have guessed from the title we have been cruising the three gorges. They are quite stunning, and we have had great weather (though still a little hazy as always).

The dam was quite controversial but now that it has been completed the general feeling here (based on my random survey of english speaking guides) is that it was a very positive move. There is a huge body of water in the Yangtze River behind the dam (we have been travelling on it for something like 600km), and the water depth has risen something like 80m, but the steep gorges still tower over the river. About 1.3 million people had to be moved as part of the project, and there are now a lot of highrise apartment buildings along the riverbank, but there is still a lot of uninhabited (and uninhabitable) land. People were given new apartments in exchange for their houses. One articulate guide said (with honesty I thought) that he and many others felt unhappy about the change initially, but in retrospect are now very happy with the dam.

The dam provides a huge amount of hydroelectric power and also makes the Yangtze navigable for even fairly large ships like the one we are on. The scenery was spectacular, though because of the haze I don't think our photos will have captured it well. (Still took a lot though)

One of our side tours was to the "Three Gorges Tribe" which is occupied by one of the Chinese minority groups. I can't recall the name of this ethnic group, but I do recall that there are 80million people in this minority group in China! Anyway, this small village made a good income from tourists by presenting their old way of life in a colourful way. Various members were sitting on fishing boats in the small stream, or singing across the stream to one another, or showing how they used to manually tow barges up the Yangtze. They also put on a mock wedding. I'm not sure I actually learned much about the minority group, but it was a pleasant and colourful afternoon. (We caught a bus there, and that was a bit scary at times, looking out of the window straight down a 60m cliff into the Yangtze.)

Today we visited another temple - this time the Ghost Town of Fengdu.  The usual strange mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and Conficianism with this "Village of the dead" idea thrown in.  I think it is now mostly for the tourists, though a few Chinese were praying there.  Apparently it was one of the few temples that survived the Cultural Revolution of the 1980's, indicating that it must have been fairly popular, at least amongst the locals. 


This cruise has only about 100 passengers, the majority of whom were northern Chinese. English speakers were a minority group. We were placed at a dinner table with english speakers, and enjoyed chatting with that group. Ate too much of course, as you do when there are buffet meals laid on.

We had a short lesson in the Chinese language today, and I am sorry I didn't do more of that before I came. I think a few hours of lessons would have made it a bit easier to get around. All in all, I can highly recommend this cruise (and visiting China in general), provided you get good weather. We have certainly enjoyed ourselves. Later tonight we arrive in Chongqing (pronounced Chong ching)

Now it is happy hour and time for a glass of Great Wall red wine. Cheers.




Hi Colin, Thanks for all your posts - I am enjoying the vicarious travel experience. Looking forward to the photos. Jan

  Jan Apr 16, 2013 6:21 AM

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