Taking a slow boat through China to the Three Gorges
7 January 2019
There is something about China that cuts you down to size. It is not just the Great Wall or
- the vastness of the country
- the density of the crowds wherever you go
- the 5,000 year old history
- the complexity of the language
- the awkwardness of chopsticks
But also the Qutang Gorge, the first and the most ferocious of the three gorges that together flank a 3,000 kilometres long stretch of the Yangtze River. The tour included a welcomed 3-day cruise between Chongquin and Hubei Provinces. This was a leisurely slow boat downstream through stunning scenery of towering cliffs and gorges.
The boat sailed in the evening so that we could see the illuminated skyline on Chongqin before we left. And it was indeed an amazing sight. We were told that the lights are turned off at 11pm so as to save energy!
There were markings along the side of the river to indicate the heights of the water at low and high tides. We were shown a short video clip on the boat about how the Three Gorges Dam was built, including information on the controversy surrounding the build as well as the displacement of local people. A fair video I must say – gave us warts and all, within limitations, I guess.
There were amazing sights with changeable mists, and natural sculptures along the river. But the best was not on the Yangtze but the Qutang Gorge, the first and most ferocious of the three gorges that together flank the 300 kilometres long stretch of he Yangtze.
To enter the Qutang, the two steep rock face mountains on either side of the Yangtze narrow into a canyon to form a gateway into the gorge. The scenery here is spectacular. The Lesser Three Gorges is a cool stretch of lime-bluewater with monkeys and pre-historic coffins hanging from perpendicular cliffs .
We were provided with a local guide just for this trip who spoke passionately about sights.
There were naturally lots of discussions as to how people managed to get the wooden coffins inside the cave at such a height thousands of years ago. The answer is not yet discovered.
We had our meal on the boat with the domestic Chinese tourists who were 95% of 350 capacity of the boat! They were all very friendly and nice. We used every opportunity to practice our very little Chinese – “Ni hao” meaning “hello” and “Xie xie” meaning thank you.
We were treated to a Captain’s farewell dinner with cabaret, performed by the staff, lots of very nice and good quality food.
The cruise ended entering the dock to the next big thing – the famous Three Gorges Dam.