Yangtze River Cruise - (continued)

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The 6:45 AM tai chi class was canceled the next morning so that we could use the deck to view our entrance into Qutang Gorge, the first of the Three Gorges. It was around 7 AM when we made our approach. There were tall mountains on each side of us that cast shadows and chilled the air slightly. It was scenic but I was not blown away. The cruise director was on deck with a microphone narrating in Chinese and English our traversal of the gorge. He pointed out peaks and rock formations. He also showed us the trails used in the old days by boat trackers. Boat trackers were men who used ropes to pull boats through the rapids back when the river was turbulent. These days, the river is smooth. It took about 20 minutes for us to travel through the gorge.

Qutang Gorge



The Yangtze River is a busy waterway. There was always a barge, river cruise boat, or cargo vessel motoring by. The river actually starts at Mt. Everest in the west and flows all the way across China finally emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. We were cruising only a small portion of the river from Chongqing to Yichang.

We arrived at our port of call for the day around 10:45 that morning. We were in the city of Badong. I was starting to notice a pattern with these river cities. They exist on both sides of the river and are connected by a large suspension bridge. Like Fengdu, which we visited the previous day, Badong is a relocation city. It was constructed in 1997.



We did not spend any time touring Badong. Instead, we were transferred to a ferry and taken about an hour down a tributary. Along the way, we were shown the hanging coffin that was attached to the walls of a cliff crevice about 2,000 years ago. No one knows how the people got the coffin way up there.

We eventually reached a pier where we were transferred to sampans (small wooden Chinese boat). We were rowed further down the tributary while a guide told us about the area and sang Chinese folk songs. It was a relaxing boat ride - so much so that Traci and I dosed off. My snooze was abruptly interrupted by one of the rowers behind us who jabbed my shoulder, barked something in Chinese, and pointed to some merchandise that was being passed around the boat in hopes that we would make a purchase. They were selling DVDs of the boat ride, bracelets, and other products. We did not buy anything.

Sampan Ride



We were returned to our boat via the ferry. We were looking forward to lunch. Um. Where are the pizza and fries like yesterday? Lunch was fine despite us missing familiar food.

We traveled through the second gorge (Wu Gorge). I don't remember much about it other than being told it was much more turbulent before the dam was built. There used to be many shipwrecks in this area.

The third gorge, Xiling Gorge, was more interesting to me. I was intrigued by the isolated houses in the hills. There did not seem to be any roads that led there.

My most exciting experience of the cruise was descending the locks. Around 5:30 PM, we entered the first lock. There was already a barge in there. I was impressed at how the captain squeezed our boat between the barge and the side of the lock. Another barge pulled in behind us before the huge rear doors of the lock slowly closed behind all of us. I was surprised at how quickly the water level lowered to the next level without us feeling any movement. The doors in front of us opened to let the boats move forward. The door closed behind us and the process repeated four more times. Traci and I watched one cycle of this process from the observation desk with other passengers.

Descending the Locks


tight fit



Our time on the Yangzi Explorer seemed to fly by. We had already reached our final evening on the boat. It was the time Traci and I always refer to as "The Last Supper". That evening we were told to gather in the lobby for a pre-dinner show. The staff came out in stunning traditional Chinese attire. A drummer beat a drum while some of the staff members pranced in dragon costumes. It was a fun presentation. Dinner that night was a buffet of traditional Chinese cuisine. We enjoyed it.

pre-dinner show


After dinner, we visited the ship photographer who had been taking photos of us on the boat and on excursions. He had many nice shots of Traci and me - some of which I included in this trip report. The photo DVD cost the equivalent of $60. I also went to the reception desk to pay the gratuities by credit card. The recommended amount to be paid by each passenger was $20/day. Continue...


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