The Three lots of Three Gorges

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Yesterday morning up early again (Chinese torture I think) to do Fengdu 'Ghost' City which is a Chinese tourist attraction based around some legends. This comprised of seeing Fengdu in the dark (was about 6am) and walking up to a surreal 'amusement' park which comprised of life size models depicting lots of different stories. Most amusing part of it was the 'ghost' train which will have Alton Towers quaking in its boots - about 90 seconds going round a dark area with a few luminous skeletons around. The Chinese were visibly scared/amused! Then went to see several temples (are getting a bit templed out) and back to the boat where the sensible westerners has only just got up. Although we had 2 English speaking guides (for the 6 of us on our trip) they only seem to communicate the bare necessities e.g. back here in 30 minutes.

Spent the afternoon with some other westerners drinking beer and chatting. Scenery not as interesting as anticipated = yet. After dark there was another stop at Badai city to see another temple which involved walking up a lot of steps (and my knee still hurts) so opted out of that and went for dinner with two other couples (Swedish, Oz and German) where we literally picked all the ingredients we wanted and they cooked it up for us which was delicious. Back on board and thrown out of the entertainment area (karaoke of course) at 11pm.

Today had a lie in although was arriving at the first of the three gorges at about 6am. At about 8.30 got off to get a smaller boat down the lesser three gorges. These were pretty impressive - cliffs were huge and signs on shore showed how far the water will rise by 2009 when the dam will have caused the water to rise to its maximum. Stop offs on the way for street food and markets which completely disappeared within 5 minutes of us leaving! The second lesser three gorge is most impressive in my view and we also saw monkeys and 'hanging' coffins here (basically holes in the cliffs where they deposited bodies and their possessions. At the end of those three gorges we then got on a smaller boat (about 30 people) down the mini three gorges which were also impressive and the guide assisted by some locals onshore sang local songs and played instruments (naturally we had to pay 3Y for this as a tip at the end). Had a really naff picture of us taken at the front of the boat which prompted all the Chinese to have couples pics too gazing into each others eyes (resisted the temptation to be sick). At the end of those gorges I was very disappointed that there was not a minute 3 gorges boat trip for us to do but you can't have it all. It was actually pretty impressive stuff and glad we did it as the water will rise up to 150m in the next few years.

Back on our big boat we had a great lunch in the restaurant and drank our bottle of Chinese red wine (cost a quid and was v drinkable). Continued socialising with Malaysians and westerners in the bar area where we started to play Texas Hold 'em poker which I can't say I was expecting to play on the Yangtzi although know Dave's mates will be proud of him (although I won more than he did). This was followed by us all dancing to 'No limits' by Technotronic - yet another surreal moment. Chinese noticed we liked this song so then proceeded to play at several times until we asked them to stop!

At about 10pm we arrived at the dam entrance (lots of people got off to go and see the dam itself and the museum - this wasnt included in our tour and glad we didnt do it to be honest) instead we stayed on board and went through a series of 5 locks around the dam which were massive. We seemed to drop really quickly on going through each lock and what initially appeared as a pretty small gate became huge - we dropped about 15m. Is a great engineering feat which I don't fully understand as it has huge environmental repercussions and several villages have been flooded, relics have had to be moved brick by brick and as the silt is building up in the river due to pollution in about 70 years the dam will be useless.

As boat arrives in Yichang at about 3.30 (although you can stay on board til 6) we decided to stay up and try and get as bus asap to Wuhan so we can get to Vietnam tomorrow. Much as I like China and the people are much more friendly than I ever imagined I am keen just to get to Vietnam asap and get the trip over and done with! Pay the Chinese staff some Yuan to keep the bar open so we can continue our poker game and eventually arrive in Yichang to get on the bus to Wuhan.
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