China Day 12 – The Three Gorges

For the morning we had to get up at 06:15 for breakfast before the morning excursion to Fengjie, the White Emperor City. The breakfast room didn’t open until 06:30 so we got our boarding passes and tickets whilst we waited.

Statue of Gong Sunshu

At 07:15 we were down in the reception ready for the excursion. The weather once again was not looking great. The organisation into groups wasn’t that good as it was chaos in the lobby and no one really knew where they were meant to be.

Eventually we found one of the local guides who could speak English and was told to follow her group. Going downstairs we exited the boat and crossed through several other boats until we got onto the land. You then take several escalators up to the buses – the number of escalators you go up is changeable depending on the water level.

The bus then stops right outside the entrance to the White Emperor City. The only way to reach it now is by the “Wind and Rain” bridge. With a name like that I’d expect that to be in the United Kingdom, though based on the weather we’d had on the Yangtze maybe it was appropriate there also. This bridge is actually a modern construction, another built as a result of the Three Gorges dam project.

Stone Dragon

Our local guide was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I do find it irritating when a guide talks too much, and becomes repetitive, but this one was the polar opposite. She would occasionally speak, but it was very rare. She even managed to lose half the group and didn’t bother looking or waiting for them – just continued on without them.

White Emperor City, “Bai Di Cheng”

What I know of the Baidi City is as a result of Google searches. The White Emperor city gets it’s name from General Gongsun Shu who during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD) rebelled and created his own state in Shu. Due to white fog he believed looked like a dragon he declared himself as the White Emperor. It’s also referred to as Baidi city because of the Baidi mountain where it’s located.

By the time her tortoise pace had got us into the grounds properly we had to head back. Sadly I have no idea what was missed, but I would guess it was packed with more tourists anyway. When we got back to the bus we were told that the bus had already gone despite it sitting right in front of us (I’d made a note of the registration plate when we got off so I wouldn’t forget which one we needed to go back on). She then took the group on a different bus which got us back to the boat 15 minutes after it was scheduled to leave the port. In the end the boat ended up leaving port 30 minutes late.

The Three Gorges – Qutang Gorge

The first scenic part of the cruise was through the Qutang Gorge. The sun deck was incredibly packed so ended up using the deck below it instead. It wasn’t that impressive; though that may have been due to the fog as I’m sure bathed in sunlight it would have been a better sight.

Reaching the next gorge, Wu Gorge, coincided with lunch which meant one or the other, or attempt both by rushing around. Instead of taking more photographs that would look the same as the ones from Qutang Gorge I opted to go for lunch and glanced out the window a few times to ensure we weren’t missing anything.

At 14:00 there was then an excursion down the Shennong Stream. To manage this narrower and shallower stream we had to disembark and board a ferry. We carried on down the stream by ferry for about an hour down the river, passing some sights such as an impressive new bridge that was under construction at the time. Eventually we arrived at a floating platform where we had to switch to an even smaller boat – rickety wooden boats that were not entirely stable and didn’t really have a proper floor, just a couple of planks of wood to stop you getting wet.

Sailing down the Shennong Stream

On these smaller boats we would sit two by two and about eight to a boat so our group took up a few of these smaller boats. Each boat had it’s own rowing team of three, one person steering, and a local guide who would tell us stories about this area as we travelled down stream.

Our rowing team were by far the fastest as we passed 3 other boats on the way. There wasn’t really a great deal to see that we hadn’t already seen – just a closer look at a gorge. It was interesting to hear how the dam project had affected communities living near the river though. This particular one had required a new rope bridge to be built in order for them to easily cross.

Shennong Stream – Rope Bridge

On the way back the local guide started to sing some local songs as she is from one of the many minority groups in China. This was then followed by numerous attempts to sell us souvenirs. However these contained a lot of what is referred to as “Chinglish”, or in Internet-speak “Engrish”. It was then another hour until we got back to our boat.

As we got back to the boat later than intended the “happy hour” for drinks at reduced prices didn’t happen, and the disembarkation briefing and dinner were delayed. We did however miss the briefing whilst putting away camera equipment only to find out during dinner that the Government had closed the dam so we wouldn’t be going through the lock gates as intended and would instead have to get up early to catch a coach from Maoping.

The evening meal however was awful, easily the worst on the trip as what little meat was provided was either bone, gristle or fat. The only part of the meal that was edible was the rice and the stale bread. The bread may have been better if it had been eaten a couple of days previous, probably the day we originally boarded. Listening to conversations in the dining room many of the others were saying similar things and were very annoyed by the lack of quality. It hadn’t bothered me too much as I knew I’d got cereal bars just in case.

After the meal we then paid the compulsory service charge of 150 yuan before heading back to the rooms to pack for the next early start.

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