Cruising on the Yangtze

My cruise on the Yangtze was a four day three nights tour. Since you board very late on the first day and leave at noon the fourth day it is rather a three day cruise after all.

Still I am not going to complain here, it was very relaxing not to be responsible for anything, just to arrive at the meals and otherwise listening to the intercom and show up at the indicated times in the lobby.
The first morning I started lazy, had my breakfast and then went to a presentation about TCM instead of the optional Fengdu ghost city excursion.

It was more of a snooze event especially since I felt a bit out of place on the cruise. 3/4 of the travelers were Chinese, and they were loud and obnoxious. Permanently on the phone, yelling (I don’t think they can talk to each other in a regular voice) or eating like pigs. The way these people storm the buffet you would think we were in Dafur.

The last quarter then was full of every other nationality from all over the earth. But were they old. I felt like the proverbial youngster on this ship (I saw maybe 6 people under 30, and 10 under 40). In the end it felt good to be one of the younger ones!

Anyway, after the TCM presentation I relaxed a bit in my room (lived that I had it to myself), then went for lunch and then around 5pm or so we arrived at our first stop, the Shibaozhai Pagoda or treasure stone. This was the first of three planned excursions for all passengers.

We walked through the little village with our respective groups and over the bridge to this old treasure. It had more than enough steps to climb to the top but I needed the exercise after reclining (except when I went for the meals) all day.

Upon our return it was almost dinner time and after another battle at the buffet. We were then invited to attend a costume show on the entertainment deck. While watching it, I sat at the bar and wrote my postcards. It was the only illuminated place in the room and also the show was not really much to talk about.

For the next morning I had signed up for a visit to the White Emperor City and already went for breakfast at 6:45. It turned out the cruise was not so relaxing after all.

We walked through a little market to get to a bus station that would bring us to the site.

Passengers who didn’t want to go with the organized ship tour were not allowed from board until an hour after departure. With this rule it was made sure that none could go alone. Very strange, I wonder if all cruises are like this?

We arrived and had to walk over a bridge and then again a steep staircase was waiting for us to get to the top. For the ones who didn’t want to walk carriers were available. Before starting to the top we had to walk to the staircase first from where we had a really nice view on the first gorge of this trip.

At the top there was next to the usual pagoda a little museum about the history of the cliff coffins. Our guide couldn’t tell us if the water was higher in former times and the coffins lowered down from the top of the cliffs or if they built some kind of construction to get the coffins up. Whatever it was it looked very interesting and gave us something to search for while we were going through the gorges.

The smaller coffins were for a second class funeral. Meaning you were first burried in the ground and when your flesh had sufficiently rotted, your bones were collected and then you got the cliff burial. In honesty it makes no sense to me, and I asked who would later pay for a cliff burial for someone who was long dead, but the guide knew no answer (also possible, he didn’t understand the question).

On the way to the ship I saw some interesting stalls selling all kinds of meats.

Finally we entered the first gorge (the gorges were the main attractions of the cruise) and I had to take some more pictures.

The weather was always a bit hazy and overcast, so the background in the pictures looks all white. We were told that it’s really nice to come on the cruise in November and December because then the leaves would change their color to red.

After lunch we entered the second gorge and while in it we came to a point called the Goddess Peak in the Wu Gorge. Here we stopped and had another excursion. This time we changed into smaller boats and ventured into a small tributary. Steep cliffs on both sides made for a tight feeling and when our boat captain hit the rocks on one side I only thought not another disaster. It didn’t turn out to be the case, at least something! But I got gorgeous pictures from the tour.

And this is the famous Goddess Peak.

For that evening we had a captain’s dinner planned since it was also our farewell. This time no buffet but instead a set meal which was perfect and the Chinese food was wonderful.

The next morning we had our last excursion to the Three Gorges Damn which was impressive but in the end it’s a damn and who really cares.

On the way to it there was a security check were all passengers had to get off the bus, get screened and on the other side of the building had to get on the bus again. These checks were so weird.

And then we were finally at the dam.

On the way to our final stop we went through the last of the three gorges and easily the most picturesque.

Then we arrived at Yichang were I got desperate for a second cause when we neared the harbor I saw that it was just another small ship station without any infrastructure. So there would be no taxi waiting for me to catch it. When I went down to reception to inquire about it, it was already too late to do much about it. On my way back to the cabin I met a guy I had seen about and told him my predicament. He offered to ask if they had a seat on their shuttle and really 15 minutes later I was driving with a group from New Zealand to the train station where I would grab a taxi and go to my hostel. Yours, Pollybert

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