Thursday, July 10, 2008


Day 11: 14 March 2008

Itinerary: Yangtze River Cruise Day 1

The name of the ship was 银河一号 (translated as "Silver River No.1") , christened "MS FORTUNE".On board included 2 big groups - one from Germany and the other from Belgium. There were also 2 couples from Britain, another couple from France (I think), 3 guys from Malaysia (I was sharing the cabin with one of them) and the rest were locals including a big group from Zhejiang province.

The facilities and service standard were good and well organised. This is a full-board cruise, unlike those smaller cruise ships run by local operators, and is owned by an Indian company apparently. I understand that there were 2 new luxury cruise ships just launched that were operated by American companies and were fully booked! As this ship caters mostly to Europeans, the service standard naturally need to be of a certain level. For meals, each table is permanently allocated accordingly to cabin numbers and timing was staggered into 2 by half an hour apart of each so the queue for food was well managed. We were considered 散客 (small groupings) , hence our table included just an elderly Chinese couple, the 3 Malaysian, myself and 2 other tour guides - one, the local guide for the German group and the other for one of the British couple.

The ship docked at Chongqing till early morning. Sailed off at about 7-plus a.m. Programme sheet were given each day of the 3 day cruise, for the first day there was a shore excursion at Fengdu(豐都) to the Ghost City (鬼城).
During breakfast, one of the local guide sitting at the same table as us mentioned that there was turmoil yesterday (13 March) in Lhasa where shops were set on fire. There was some commotion during my last night in Lhasa but I never thought things would turn to this bad. I managed to catch some news report on TV in the cabin. (Note: As things panned out, Tibet was closed off to all foreigners after the numerous unrests that followed and only re-opened to foreign visitors towards the end of June 2008 - more than 3 months!)

Set off from the Chongqing jetty

Many such bridges along the route, some still under construction.

Another cruise ship along the route.

Looks deserted! Arrived at Fengdu Ghost City.

The cable car ride up to the temple and back down again later.

Entrance to the temple.

Three bridges for visitors to choose to cross from (one for wealth, one for health and the other for marriage, love etc. - if memory served me right. Visitor is only allowed to choose one.)

Sleeping Buddha upclose - so peaceful and serene!

This is interesting stuff - weighing at least a 100 kg, it is used as a test of a man's love for the woman he loved. A man needs to bring the movable piece to sit on top of the stationary piece, no mean feat I assure you. One British tried and did not succeed. A performer did
demonstrate how it could be achieved and he is a professional who had trained for this. Looks deceptively easily but in reality a gigantic task!

The group from Zhejiang.

Back to the ship.

The Captain at the Welcome Banquet with the local cruise coordinator (lady), the local guide/intepretor (German) and the Belgian tour guide.

The Welcome Dinner Banquet - quite a feast!

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