"" Writer's Wanderings: Cruising the Yangtze

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cruising the Yangtze

I awake first at 4 a.m. when someone in the next room hits the wall. Then I wake again at 5 and am wide awake at 6:30 when I hear Bob’s phone buzz with an incoming text message. The Ohio State game must have started at home where it’s still Saturday. The score is coming in.

We are up at 7 and hear traffic on the river. Other cruising river boats are leaving their berths. We see the Viking River Cruise boat go by. It looks really nice—a lot better than ours and ours is better than most. Fred told us that our boat, the M.S. Yangtze 1, is only a year old and is considered the best of the fleet on the river. I don’t think he was comparing it to Viking.

From our balcony, we can see that the river runs fast. If you fell in, you would be downstream a mile before you surfaced. The water is brown but not terribly littered. It is smoggy/foggy still and the air smells. We won’t be spending much time out there unless the air quality improves.
Breakfast is a buffet: curry noodles, dumplings with onions, fried egg on toast, wide-sliced bacon, fruit. The coffee is wonderful. I’m surprised at that and grateful.

We are passing a lot of coal barges. Power is generated mostly with coal which adds a lot to the smog problem. China is hoping to get more hydro-electric power with the dam project thereby improving air quality.

Chonging disappears quickly behind us. We pass people fishing with large scoop nets and washing clothes (!) in the brown river.

In the large and very comfortable lounge aboard the boat, we gather to hear our hostess, Kathy, explain the three gorges and talk about the river and the dam project. The towns that are flooded are relocated to higher ground. It is an improvement to most people’s lives. They are given apartments with washers, running water, etc., but they are losing a lot of history and culture that will be underwater. The young people are happier than their parents who are forced to move from farms they have lived on for generations.

Aboard the boat are three artists selling their wares: stitchery, painting in glass bottles, and jewelry made by a specialist in fresh water pearls. We buy a stitchery of flowers and get a “deal” on the painted bottles.

Once we are out of the city and the air has cleared, we opt to sit on our balcony and watch the scenery go by until lunch which is more of the same type of Chinese dishes we have had before. This time though the new item is lotus fruit—slices of lotus pods, white in color but having little taste. After lunch, we pull up to a dock in Fengdu for an excursion to the Ghost City.
Other China posts:
The Forbidden City
Tiananmen Square
The Great Wall
The Summer Palace
Wuhan to Beijing
Chinese Farmhouse
Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges and Lesser Gorges
Fengdu—The Ghost City
Chonging—The Yangtze River
The Big Goose Pagoda
Evening in Xian
Beijing to Xian
Timid Tourist in China-Travel Day
China-The Trip of a Lifetime

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