Yangtze River Trip
Chongqing Travel Blog› entry 101 of 117 › view all entries
July 30th, 2007 – by: dan2105
The river trip itself was good fun. I should stop saying this because it's getting repetitive, but I was, again, surprised by the standard of accommodation. Apart from the stench of cigarette smoke and urine, our living quarters onboard were pretty good. A rickety old air-conditioning unit, although frustrating, proved critical as we headed towards Chongqing, where temperatures in summer often reach 43C (the reason it is known as one of the three 'oven cities'.
Despite the best efforts of environmental groups, when the Three Gorges Dam is completed, the Three Gorges themselves will be submerged under water. I couldn't believe this, having heard that they were such a national icon and all, but after the river cruise through the gorges, I would have to say I can see why not.
We awoke at 5:30 to see the first of the Three Gorges. To be honest, if we saw it, we weren't aware. This was to be a recurring theme. The scenery is fairly spectacular at times (steep, mountainous terrain often dwarfing the boat), but there is no climax, no main event, no money shot. Perhaps we left feeling a bit disappointed because we were naive to think that we would get one.
I chose to do one of the optional boat excursions that we caught in addition to the boat we inhabited. It was to see the Three Lesser Gorges, taking you closer to the landscape down one of the tributaries running off the Yangtse. Despite the ear-drum torturing loudspeaker blasting out Chinese, it was worth getting off the boat for seven hours for. Mind you, I was so tired from the 5:30 start that I fell asleep on the return journey. Western people are still a novelty to a lot of Chinese - even the ones wealthy enough to afford to travel - and so iy wasn't much of a surprise to find the natives lining up to take my photo as I woke from my slumber. It appears that a Westerner asleep is very photogenic. Maybe somewhere in China, in the near future, I might appear on a mantelpiece.
Once we arrived in Chongqing - late in the day - we visited Ciqikou Ancient Town, dating back to the late Ming dynasty, and containing several Chairman Mao-era houses. Now overrun with a tourist market and people selling you pointless stuff, it isn't as authentic as you might hope. The highlight was the Chinese feast provided by one of the local families, who even let us look around their home, given to them for free in the 70's as China went under cultural reform. For this reason, it is little surprise that their views on Mao somewhat contradict most people from the West. It was here that I had the pleasure of experiencing pig's stomach for the first time. It was actually pretty good. Don't be like that - sausages are no better.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!