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Ray with the Three Gorges Dam boat locks behind him.

Sondra with the Three Gorges Dam in the background.

The cable car down to the Yangtze River cruise boat.

Ray's coffee and the Yangtze River are the same color!

Sailing up the Shennong Stream. Sondra with other members of our tour.

The boat landing at the Shennong Stream. From here we took smaller...

Our boat crew rowing us up the river.

Our crew pulling our boat through the water. Too little water to...

Pulling us up the river...they were working hard.

On the front of our beautiful river boat.

Once the dam is completed the water level will rise to the...

At one of the many temples in Fengdu.

In front of the "oh so scary" Ghost Palace in Fengdu.

We took a tour of the Three Gorges Dam which was gigantic. Once it is complete (2009) it will be the biggest dam in the world producing one heck of a lot of electricity (technically speaking). The Dam is of course on the mighty Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world. We then entered our luxury Yangtze passenger boat for a three day jaunt up the river. Our accomodations on the boat were top notch. For example, the boat almost floated level in still standing water! Our room was fairly big compared to the rest of the rooms, but, it stank! The rest of the boat was dirty, dirty, dirty. There was no toilet paper on the boat, and our guide didn't mention to bring any (her tip is getting lower and lower). So, kleenex is coming in handy around here. As bad as it sounds it was manageable and we enjoyed it.

The Chinese have a morning ritual of waking up, smoking, and then spitting lugies. They spit right on the floor! We can actually hear them getting ready to spit fom our room in the morning. You can hear the splatter as it hits the ground! This act of spitting then continues all day long. This has been one of the hardest things to get used to. I have heard the government is trying to do something about this particularily disgusting custom, but they have not done it yet. There are also no environmentalists on board--everything gets thrown overboard. I have seen whole bags of trash tossed out of rooms into the river. People here just don't seem to care about the environment at all. I took a picture of my coffee this morning (chocolate brown with added creamer) with a view of the river below it. They were the exact same color. For all I know our boat is actually floating on coffee with creamer.

The surrounding valleys around the Yangtze however, were beautiful. The country is undergoing a massive relocation project as over 1,000,000 people are being displaced because of the dam. By 2009 the water will have risen 175 meters (approximately 570 feet) higher than its original flow. This act of raising the river flow has already started and many mountain peaks are finding themselves islands on the Yangtze. The scenery is green, but wildlife appears absent everywhere you look. And forget trying to see fish, they can't swim in coffee.

We took a day excursion up one of the tributaries to a small city/area called Shennong Stream. They used to have a custom of rowing people up an isolated part of the river and then pulling the boats (with passengers still in them) through the shallow water. What made it so special was that they used to do all of this completely naked! However, as with many things in life, good things do indeed come to an end. Somehow, naked boat rowing and pulling drew tons of tourists to this destination and ultimately made the locals too self-conscious to nakedly row and pull. So now, it is all done clothed. Good enough for me! Although Sondra was a bit disappointed. I actually felt bad for the locals because they were working incredibley hard to row and pull our boat, but, they were very proud of their tradition and thoroughly enjoy what they do. Later in the evening we returned to our luxury boat and finished our sailing adventure arriving in the city of Chongqing the following day.

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