13-16. April 2010
The Yangtze Cruise was amazing. At first we were afraid, lest we might have picked the wrong ship to do the cruise with, but it turned out to be the ideal one. We had different alternatives to do the cruise with big price differences. The cheapest version would have been to go with a Chinese cruise ship with no meals and sightseeing activities included (you would have even had to pay a fee to go on the top deck…). Then there were all-inclusive packages of Chinese cruise ships and foreign (western) cruise ships with all-inclusive offerings – those were the most expensive ones. We did not want to go on one of the foreign ships, since we were in China to experience the Chinese and their culture – thus we went for a Chinese ship, however, not the cheapest one (because of the uncomfortable experiences we had with going the cheapest way in the recent past - remember the trip to the Shaolin Temple). We booked a Cruise on the “M.V. Three Kingdoms Cruise” with meals and sightseeing activities being included in the price.
On the first day we visited Fengdu – a temple where (as the Buddhist believe has it) all souls have to pass through in order to arrive at afterworld. According to superstition the souls need to pass three tests in order to be granted access into the temple where they will receive their sentence – hell, rebirth or nirvana.
The first test is to pass a slippery bridge, where the evil spirits are apt to trip due to their bad conscience.
As a second test the souls need to pass a holy doorstep.
The last obstacle they have to overcome is to stand on one leg (men on the left, women on the right leg) on a little stone for three seconds – here again the ones with a bad conscience are believed not to be able to do it (neither did I…oh,oh…).
On the second day we passed through the first and the second Gorge, Qutang Gorge and Wu Gorge, respectively. The view was simply majestic. Huge, cliffy rock faces shooting out of the turquoise water of the Yangtze whose deep green color underlines their vehemence and grandeur making it a breathtaking spectacle.
Unfortunately, the pictures are not at the least capable of conveying what it was like to pass through those giants of the force of nature.
In the afternoon it was time for the next excursion. At that time we changed on little boats to be at first rowed and later pulled through a small sidearm of the Yangtze, the Shennong River.
There we could really get in touch with the river and the surrounding mountains, admire the beauty of the enormous rock formations, watch the fish through the water surface and listen to the tunes of animal inhabitants. Before the Yangtze Dam had been built the water in the valley was only one meter deep, now the water level had risen by about 25 meters. I wonder what the valley looked like in its original condition.
At night we passed through the last of the Three Gorges, Xiling Gorge, and at midnight arrived at the Yangtze Dam project where we passed through the Five Stage Ship Lock. Fortunately, Angela could force herself to get up and take some pictures.
Me myself, I needed to stay in bed feeling sick due to some bench-drinking we had with some Chinese. On the invitation of the Chinese we had started with some rice wine at dinner which we countered with a couple of beers which they countered with more rice wine and so on and so on…
The day after, we had to get up really early in order to leave the ship at 7:30 to disembark the Ship in Yichang and to pay a visit to the Yangtze Dam project. Except for being huge the Dam has nothing much to offer, thus I will settle for some pictures.
At 1 pm we mounted the bus to go to Wuhan.