On a 4* chinese boat
03.08.2008 - 08.08.2008 40 °C
Found a computer that works, so here are some photos:
Ok so where was I? We left Guilin on an overnight train. We decided to splash out and travel soft sleeper (1st class). 4 People with bunk beds but actually it was pretty comfortable and I slept really well on the top bunk. Initially I had been a tad scared that the small metal rod wouldn't stop me from falling out but it did - either that or we didn't break suddenly overnight. There were two chinese ladies with us, but they spent most of the journey in the cabin next door with their mates, leaving us to enjoy our pot noodles in peace.
We were collected in Chongqing the following morning and left our bags with the travel agency and went exploring. The city was massive with loads of sky scrapers and felt very new and clean.
We then decided to go over the river on a cable car. Now it was a wee bit foggy and you couldn't really see the other side unless you squinted.
But into the mist we went and had the most expensive cokes yet (about 1GBP) and then risked the public toilets. I had heard horror stories about them and until now we had stuck to using hotels or restaurants. They we however pretty good with roses on the walls, soap and hand dryer and should we have felt the need to wash our hair a hair dryer!
Anyway that evening we got a Chinese tourist boat which would takes us down the Yangtze for the next three night.
This is our boat
On the top deck
We opted for the Chinese tourist boat rather than the western one cause we thought the western ones looked very tacky with lots of lights and they requested a ball dress for the evening (well the one we read about did). CITS who are a chinese travel agency booked it all for us (forgot to update their prices so we saved 50yuan) and also gave us a guide. He spoke a little English, such as; this way, ticket and key. But did get us onto the boat. We shared a rather small, somewhat grubby cabin with two Germans who seemed very nice. We had stocked up on many pot noodles before departing a we were told the food wasn't good and a tad over priced. But it turns out for the first time we paid locals prices rather than bumped up western prices, so in actual fact food and drink was pretty cheap.
There were several other westerners on the cruise who we got talking to while cruising down the river.
I said I wouldn't include this picture but I am mean and such a good photographer I thought it only fair
The first day we spent on the boat while some of the chinese went off to see a temple. We were told it wouldn't be interesting to us and when we saw the steps going up to it were thankful to be staying on the boat. It was very misty/foggy/polluted
and you couldn't really see the shore to well so thankfully the first day didn't go through any gorges but went past lots of abandoned towns and new citys to take the inhabitants of the abandoned towns once the river reaches its full height of 175 meters (which may be 175 m deep or 175 m above sea level, I didn't really understand when people were explaing but I think its the latter). That day we had a rather good dinner on the boat before going on to see the lesser 3 gorges and the mini 3 gorges on the second day.
A new town
How high the water is going to go once the dam is fully flooded (The white sign on the building)
Some Gorge photos from days 2 and 3
We all got into slightly smaller boats for the lesser 3 gorges which were as stunning as the1st gorge we went through on the trip. The water was green in comparison to the Yangtze (brown and according to the guide book will be the biggest toilet in the world once flooded to its full height - hence we avoided the fish) and we saw a coffin in a cave 2000 years old and 300ft above the river.
Coffin high above the river
Oh and we got to follow a flag, true chinese style at last
We then transferred into smaller sanpans which unfortunately were covered so we couldn't really see the mini 3 gorges. Thankfully due to the big tour group on our boat there was an English speaking guide - Sarah - who could explain everything to us.
She accompanied us to Dachang town (we got tickets included in our tour while none of the other westerners did so it was just us with a guide). This town used to be several meters lower and so they took it apart and rebuilt it higher up to save it from the flooding. But according to the ticket it gets more beautiful every year, now I guess this is because they are finishing it.
And a guy busy at work moving the village
We were about to get back to the boat when our Chinese guide thrust two tickets in our hand and waved up some steps and said bus. So up we went and got on the bus. No guide in sight. At the top of the hill everyone got out and dissappeared. AHH where were we going? What time are we meant to be back? So many questions no one to ask. We hung around and another bus arrived with someone who spoke a little English. He pointed to a building and said second floor. Off we went and found a show, I think it was a Chinese Opera about the seasons and flooding of the river. We spotted a family I recognised from the boat and followed them back to a bus and thankfully onto the boat.
The final day we went to look at a dead poets house, watch another show and have a go at dragon boat racing. Pretty good, but if I did it again wouldn't opt for this tour.
Me and the dead poet
Brenda at his house
The boat had an upstairs which had a bar and viewing deck. As well as viewing the stunning scenery (wait till you see the pictures) it gave us the chance to observe the Chinese.
People wander around in the PJs from mid afternoon and the latest fashion appears to be to wear ones shirt rolled up to reveal the belly (well for the men), a particularly good look for the more pot bellied. Also the babies don't wear nappies and on several occasions we have spotted babies peeing in the street. On the boat they also seemed to go where ever and over what ever was near when they needed to go. From that point on I didn't take my shoes off, who knows what was on the floor.
This is as close as we got to the Dam
The boat docked and we got a bus to Yichang, I think this is the dam that has destroyed many towns but made the river more navigable. We had initially planned to get the train to Xian, but it turns out we arrived in town after it had gone so got a bus to Wuhan, another town down the river. Brenda spent the 5 hours teaching a little girl English, she picked it up very quickly. She was only 3. We arrived in Wuhan and the chinese hotel (its the same price as the Flowers youth hostel, but we get a western toilet two single beds (not bunk beds) and a TV. We are staying for 2 nights so we can watch the start of the Olympics tonight. Olympic TV has a count down going and its all quite exciting. Anyway its really hot here, no one speaks english, no english menus so guide books and my chinese. Not that I am particularly patient at the moment as I have the Germans cold. Brilliant. However the fact it must be 40 degC in the shade means I'll sweat it out fast especially as I only seem to be able to pick food with more chilli than meat !
Off to go find Brenda who I left in the hotel recovering from the heat, she was feeling faint either from the heat outside or the heat of the food. Brenda is fine we are suspecting a little peanut oil may have been used in the cooking. We are now in Xian after surviving a night on a hard slleper bed. Will update you more tomorrow evening after the warriors. Hoping CCTV are showing the GB hockey match......
Till then enjoy the opening of the games, from the build up I am expecting great things