Trekking Through China…The Yangtze River…Three Gorges Dam

When we first arrived at our river cruise ship, we had to navigate all of these gangplanks in the dark with our luggage.

The transition from Shanghai to our cruise ship in Yichang was the longest day of the trip. We left our hotel in Shanghai very very early (with meager breakfast boxes in hand) to catch the early flight to Wuhan. Then we drove all day, stopping for lunch and potty break en route (at one of the most disgusting bathrooms of the entire tour, BTW), arriving at the dock in Yichang around 8pm. The walk from the bus to the boat began with steep cement stairs (dragging our luggage with us – in the dark) and snaked along many rickety gangplanks across the water, through the back of another river boat and finally across the threshold into our home for the next four days.

And all along that precariously rickety system of gangplanks glowed the bright shiny faces of the young crew members of our cruise ship, all smiling with genuine warmth and eagerness to please, happily greeting us with their delicious accents “Welcome aboard! Please watch your step!” After the long stressful day we had just had, we all fell madly in love with each and every one of those dear smiling friendly faces.

Our sparkly Yangtze Gold Cruise Ship

The cruise ship was touted as being five-star, but the jury’s still out on that one. The rooms and general decor were sparkly and bright, but the beds were rock hard (though nobody we know had trouble sleeping on them, oddly enough). The food was buffet-style, hot and plentiful and generally quite good, though the pushy line-ups to get to the food were unpalatable at times.

There were a few things that kept us from awarding the ship its full five stars, mainly the very unpleasant smell that permeated everything (including our clothes over the next few days), and the constant unexpected charges for things that on a normal cruise ship would have been free (for example, simply sitting in the room labeled as the “card room” playing cards – with our own cards – was quite expensive). One of the most frustrating things we all had to deal with was that there was never bottled water served with the meals, even though we Westerners were advised to not drink the water provided in the jugs. We were not allowed to bring our own beverages into the dining room, so it became quite difficult to be able to get enough water to drink. (And since many people in our tour group had begun to get sick, this lack of sufficient drinking water became more than just a minor nuisance over the next few days.) However, we resolutely focused on the beauty around us as we settled in for our sail down the Yangtze River.

The power lines decorated the landscape everywhere we looked at the Three Gorges Dam.

Our first shore excursion was to the Three Gorges Dam right there in Yichang (we didn’t leave port until almost midnight the next night). The dam was both interesting and disturbing, given the controversy that continues to rage all around the world over the destruction and displacement caused by the project. You can read about it here or by Googling the subject yourself. My husband really enjoyed the excursion and the magnificence of the project…I had some difficulty wrapping my head around the ripple effects that will continue to unfold for generations to come. One of the saddest comments I heard on the subject slipped out of one of the tour guides on our cruise through the Lesser Three Gorges, an almost-flippant remark that “there [waving a hand across a wide swath of water] is where my home city used to be, now it’s all underwater and that [pointing to a small barren island] is all that is left of it now.”  And then a quick change of subject to the next point of interest as this guide realized the error of having let it slip out like that…but leaving behind in many of us the sad awareness of the strife and difficulty that must have followed that flooding and loss of one’s homeland.

Aside from all the controversy and questionable (still unknown) ripple effects, the Three Gorges Dam, and its scope of capacity for both producing electricity and preventing future flooding, was an impressive sight. And we were all eager to record our trip through the five new locks, until we found out that, for some strange reason, we wouldn’t be going through the locks until midnight the following night. I’ll save that adventure for the next blog. For now, here are some pictures taken at the Three Gorges Dam.

Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges Dam

And always something interesting to look at en route (this one was between where the bus let us off and the dock).

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2012. All rights reserved.

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About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
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2 Responses to Trekking Through China…The Yangtze River…Three Gorges Dam

  1. angelika says:

    Great shots! Even of the masts. Hah! Done like a true reporter. And as always a truly interesting report. I feel like I was on this trip with you. Did you hear me snore?


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