Goodbye Wuhan……Hello Three Gorges. As we were departing Wuhan and heading down the Yangtze, we happened to look out and see … what else? A Walmart!
That’s some kind of cruise ship that we are passing. We saw a number of them in different areas. Notice the high rises. It’s quite common to see these all over the place. The cities seem to build up, not out.
But, we did find little towns along the river that just appeared.
We were told that a building boom occurred via corrupt officials and contractors that resulted in many buildings never being utilized. Ghost towns. I don’t know if this was one of them, but it sure looked ghostly to me. And yes, the water color is accurate. It was brown, for sure.
Eventually, we arrived at the dam. You couldn’t go on or into the dam. You had to view it from above. To get up there, you had to climb a 1,000,000 stairs. Well, there were landings after every 100,000. Okay, so I exaggerated — there were only 900,000. Here’s what it looked like from the top.
I know my civil engineer brother John will be very chagrined with me if he reads this, but it didn’t impress me much. I know it’s an engineering marvel, but when’s lunch? I don’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. It was really big, though.
The worse part, our trusty guide, Jonathon told us it would be an easy 5 minute walk down to the buses. A walk in the park he said. Well, we did walk through a park. It was a walk from hell. We all learned then that he lied. We never believed him after that when he would tell us about short walks, etc. It was hot, we were sweaty and we all just plodded along, putting one foot in front of the other. Did I mention the Chinese all had these pretty little umbrellas to protect them from the sun? You had to be really careful around them or you’d lose an eye. I wanted one, but never had an opportunity to get one. Not the pretty ones they walked around with. And they all had Chinese fans. I brought one back for my granddaughter, but I don’t think it was much of a hit. Remember when we had those growing up?
The next day, we had an excursion to go on sampan boats into the Lesser Three Gorges below this dam. Some of the most beautiful scenery occurred here. The Ba people used to hang their coffins on the hills a thousand years ago. The villages and farms along here were abandoned and the people relocated when they built the dam. I must confess at this point, I didn’t go on this excursion. Boats aren’t my favorite thing. AND — Jonathon said we would not have the ability to go to the bathroom for the hour and a half trip. That did it for me. Count me out! I didn’t want to get motion sick and have to pee all at the same time. No sirree, Bob. Jim went but he didn’t see any of the hanging coffins. And he said the boat would not have made me sick. I still would have had to pee.
The bus took us back to the ship and off we went on our way to Shibaozhai where we would see and visit the Shibaozhai Temple. It was built in 1819, without the use of nails, I was told.
When we arrived those steps were filled with people washing their clothing in the river. I’m not sure how clean they could get them in that brown water, but they were washing, nonetheless. We had to walk off the wharf, up 50 or so steps, up a hill, through a village and then cross a suspension bridge to get to the temple. Confession time again … I didn’t go. I stayed on the boat and talked to the other wimps, of which there were four. Jim walked up and through the village but didn’t go all the way to the bridge. It was really hot and his legs were bothering him. My feet yelled “uncle” days before. I looked at all those steps and that hill and it was all she wrote. Not to mention suspension bridges. Aren’t those the things that sway and you can see through them? Yep, that was the case!
Jim got pretty done in by his day and ended up falling asleep kinda early. I was sitting on the balcony reading in my pjs while we sailed along. I could see something blue off in the distance. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but it looked like it might be interesting so I kept my eye on it. As we got closer, I realized it might pass by on the other side of the boat and I might miss it. So, I decided to head up to the observation deck where I could see better. Most nights it was pretty quiet up in the lounge so I just kept my pjs on. Who would see me, really? Well, it was our last night onboard and I forgot its always a big deal. I walked into the lounge to get out on the deck and the place was packed, what with people doing the Macarena and such. I pretended like I was invisible and went out on the deck. What a marvelous sight!
It was a bridge! And the suspension sections kept changing. I loved it! On the one bank was a city with skyscraper after skyscraper. On the other, it appeared to be a hotel or resort complex. As we passed under it, people on the bridge were yelling down, “Hello.” We were yelling back. By this time, everyone from inside the boat had come out. I took that opportunity to slink back to my room. What the heck — I’ll never see these people again.
Tomorrow, we get off the ship at Chongqing (chongching is how it’s pronounced.)