Yangtze River
April 24 - 28, 2000

Photos & Text 2000 by
Len Schwer
Revised 24 September 2000

(Daily Journal- Day 12)
  After leaving Lhasa we flew back to Chengdu and boarded a bus for a 5 hour ride to Chongqing, the war time capital of China, where we would board Victoria 3 for our Yangtze River cruise. Although the bus ride was fairly long, the road between Chengdu and Chongqing is a new toll road so it was an easy ride. The scenery was very interesting as we had great views of farm life along the roadway. It was the start of the rice planting season, before the summer monsoon rains, and there was a lot of activity in the fields. I would characterize the country side we saw as typical of what most occidentals would think of as Chinese farms and farming. The two pictures I took from the bus window were a poor attempt to capture the scenic view at 80 km/hour in between roadside trees.
  We arrived in Chongqing about 5 PM and had a chance to view a part of this major industrial and manufacturing city as we drove to our dinner restaurant. Chongqing is a special economic development area with a population of 30 million, i.e. equivalent to the entire start of California. After dinner, we were bussed dockside and boarded the Victoria 3 after crossing the floating dock in the dark with the reflections of the city lights on the river. After a very nice night's sleep we were up early to view the city in daylight, although heavily filtered by the seemingly ever present smog and haze.
View from bus
Typical rice fields view
Floating dock to Victoria
Becky & Arnold on deck

Victoria 3 Cruise
  Daily life aboard the Victoria 3 was quite nice and it was a treat not to have to pack and unpack for 4 nights! According to the Cruise Queen, a.k.a. Ms Becky, our cabin was very nice, and it certainly had a nice picture window view of the passing river bank scenery. The hub of shipboard life was the Yangtze Club where we had several lectures and demonstrations while en route to our various ports of call.
  Near the end of the cruise we were given a tour of the bridge and a special tour of the engine room was arranged for the 'old salts' on board and those that wanted to go deaf standing next to the large six cylinder diesel engines.
  When we were passing through the Gezhouba Dam lock, Ms Becky & I took advantage of the lack of passengers on the stern and posed for the photos with the Chinese flag.
The Victoria 3
The Victoria 3
The Victoria 3
Asian medicine demo
Bridge tour
Special engine room tour
Chinese flag on stern
Ship lock in background

(Daily Journal- Day 13)
  Our first port of call was the city of Fengdu, which will be completely flooded when the Three Gorges Dam reservoir is full in 2009. Much of the city will have to be destroyed before the flooding to remove the taller buildings from the new river bed.
  In Chinese folklore the city of Fengdu is know as the 'Ghost City' and serves as a portal to heaven for all souls. Our onshore visit was to the temples on Mingshan Hill, which will remain after the river rises. The temples are a strange mix of religion and Disneyland with cartoon characters lining the walks and several 'challenges' offered to test if your soul is worthy of entering heaven. It was a very nice tour, highlighted by the tram ride up-and-down the hill with what could have been fantastic views had the weather not been so overcast and threatening.
One of several Buddha statues
Clowing with statues
Victoria 3 on left and new Fengdu across river

Lesser Gorges of the Danning River at Wushan
(Daily Journal- Day 14)
  The Danning River enters the Yangtze at the small town of Wushan. We took a day trip up the Danning to view the very scenic Lesser Three Gorges on shallow draft sampans. The river was very low and the water jet powered boat needed the help of the 3 bowmen and their long bamboo poles to push us through the many shallow rapids going upstream.
  Wushan, and much of the scenic gorges, will be flooded and the people that farm this fertile river area will be displaced to homes and farms on higher ground. It is reported the new farm land is not as fertile and farmers work to develop the new lands by day and then their old fields at night. We saw a lot of people along the river tending to their daily lives, including a group doing laundry in the river and an old man who used a long bamboo pole to solicit money from the passing tourist filled sampans.
  In the distant past, not everyone used a boat to travel along the Danning River. In several sections of the gorges, square holes in the rocks could be seen about 30 meters above the river. These square holes once contained wooded beams that supported a wood plank road, used for walking along the gorges of the Danning River.
  I liked the scenery here better than the famous 3 Gorges, because the viewing was much closer and we caught some bright sunlight on the down river part of the trip. I was reminded in several areas of the Big Bend area of Texas where the canyon walls rise even higher above the Rio Grande.
  For lunch we stopped on a gravel bar and ate our box lunches. I strolled up-and-down the shore and found some pebbles with interesting designs. I had seen pebbles displayed in shallow dishes filled with water in several places along our China tour and decided these pebbles would be my China remembrance. They now sit next to my computer and provide a lovely reminder of a lovely country. Who knows this might replace the pet rock fad?
Real sampan on Danning River
Tourist sampan
135 m Stage 1 flood level sign
New homes above flood level
Gloria watching shore laundry
Unique long pole begging
Farm lands to be flooded
Sqaure holes in rock for plank road
Reminded me of Big Bend TX
where the Rio Grande forms canyons
Entering a gorge
Some people had a better view
Very dramatic views
of steep walls and greenery
China rocks water display

Three Gorges - Qutang, Wu, & Xiling
  The Qutang Gorge is touted as the most dramatic and is the shortest. We entered this gorge at about 6 AM and the low light levels, plus ever present haze, certainly did not make my pictures of the Qutang Gorge too dramatic. I offer these poor quality photos as all I have as an impression of this gorge.
  We entered the Wu Gorge in the afternoon, after departing from Wushan and visiting the Lesser Gorges, so the weather started out better, but soon the haze returned. We followed another cruise ship part of the way through the Wu Gorge but passed this ship before reaching our overnight stop in Zigui. We were treated to another wonderful cultural show in the dockside theater.
  The next morning we entered the longest of the three gorges the 40 mile long Xiling Gorge. The steepness of the gorge walls had decreased noticeably as we progressed downstream and near the end of the Xiling Gorge we saw many terraced farms on the very steep hillsides.
  One of the most fascinating features along the Three Gorges are the Tracker Trails. These are shallow, and short in height, trails carved into the steep cliffs where men used to pull boats upstream through rapids and fast currents in the most narrow sections of the gorges. Captains would hire these local crews, who used long ropes tied to the boats, to pull the boats while walking bent over in a crouch along these amazingly small grooves cut into the rock.
Entering the gorge
One of many cliffs
Leaving the Qutang Gorge
Departing view from the stern
Leaving Wushan going downstream
Entrance to Wu Gorge
Another Yangtze cruise ship
Quite beauty of Wu Gorge
We over nighted in Zigui
Early moring entry to Xiling Gorge
I thought the haze helped this pic
Ms Becky enjoying the morning
Another view of Xiling Gorge
Green hillside closer to mid-morning
Terraced farms
Tracker Trail in cliff side
Better view of Tracker Trail on far right

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Photos & Text 2000 by Len Schwer