The Damned Yangtzee River

Chongqing Travel Blog

 › entry 32 of 45 › view all entries

My guidebook calls Chongqing "one of China's most unusual cities" - and I admit that I was impressed. First, over 30 million people live in this area. Yes, 30 million people! That's only slightly less than the entire State of California!

But the layout is stunning, as well. Skyscrapers cling to impossibly-steep ravines that stretch to the river valley far below. Bridges and cable cars intersect the sheer cliff walls, and at night, the skyline is lit up like a giant disco. It's a cross between Hong Kong, San Francisco and a bit of Vegas, as well.

But I was here to try to see another long-time dream finally come true - to cruise the 3 Gorges on the Yangtze River.

Dam It!
I have traveled some of the World's great rivers: The Nile; The Amazon; The Mississippi - but never the Yangtze - the third-largest river on the planet. I have always been told that it contains some of the greatest views of any river - but those views are disappearing fast.

The Three Gorges Dam is China's biggest engineering project since the Great Wall - and one of the world's most controversial.

Now fully constructed, it has begun backing up the water of the Yangtze River for some 400 miles. Once completely full, it will create the largest reservoir in the world - but will also flood an area the size of Singapore - and wash away the homes of up to two million people. The Chinese government has forced populations of entire cities to demolish their own homes and level their town's skyscrapers and temples, to make way for the rising river. In some cases, relics and artifacts dating back thousands of years will be lost forever.

Worse for many, is that the natural scenic beauty of this area will be changed as well. The river will rise almost 500 feet in most places, and dramatically change the views that so many painters and poets have recorded for centuries. By 2009, much of the beauty of the Three Gorges will be under water.

Thus, my mission was to see this wonderful river before that happened.

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photo by: FK27