Thursday 31 Aug
Yangtze River, China
The Russian doll of Gorges...
Well the promised 'best boat in China' (I think a slight exaggeration from an over enthusiastic booking agent in the first place) was unfortunately cancelled and we landed up with a boat that had seen better days... a long time ago. They say don't book ANYTHING under boat 7 and this was boat 8 so she just made it!
We landed up bunking with a Chinese couple as we chose to slum it in 2nd class and share a cabin, however they were not into bonding with us further than some smiles and waves. Luckily there plenty of others who were and we met a sweet American family from Seattle, an Intrepid tour group of 7 from all over and various others including French, Polish, English, Chinese and Finnish. We also met up a lovely Irish couple, Owen and Bláthnaid (I probably got that wrong, but am really trying to improve my memory on names and thought I would start with the hardest!) who we had first met in St Petersburg. What a coincidence to land up on the same boat a million miles away!
We had many a pleasant evening drinking beer, cruising down the Yangtze discussing life the universe and everything with a particular focus on the insanity of the heat and the poor air conditioners that sat on the cabin floors and pretty much kept only themselves cool!
Highlights included a visit to The Ghost City (a Taoist/Buddist temple complex depicting the journey of good and bad souls) where ironically the surrounding town has been turned into just that, having been relocated for the 3 Gorges Dam Project. 1.5 million people have been relocated as their cities will be submerged in water when the dam is complete in 2008. We of course also saw the 3 Big Gorges which were stunning and which will soon also be altered forever, then the 3 Little Gorges and then the 3 Mini Gorges being constantly transferred into smaller boats as the water got shallower and the gorges narrower. We also went on the 3 Gorges Dam Tour which was very interesting and ended on a magnificent free show which we thought we may as well go along to - there were 400 performers on stage and it was really impressive! I think it must have been government sponsored as it was all about how life will be amazing when the dam is completed.
Suffice to say we gorged on gorges and are now all 'gorged out'.