Friday, July 11, 2008


Day 12: 15 March 2008
Itinerary: Yangtze River Cruise Day 2

Today the ship will sail into two of the Three Gorges - Qutang and Wu Gorges plus an excursion into Shennongjia (Shennong Stream) via a ferry and small boats.

A slideshow of Qutang and Wu Gorges:

A slideshow of Shennong Jia:

Shennong Jia is truly a beautiful and unspoiled area along the Yangtze. The natives are a minority race and are not affected by the National 1-child policy. Most have been relocated away from this area and very few families still stay within this area. As we were told, in the old days children need to travel 8 to 10 km by foot or a combi of foot+boat just to get to school as it was not financially feasible for the families to put them into boarding homes near the schools.
The finale of this excursion was a throwback to the old days where the boatmen who rowed the boat would also be the first to reach the shores and pulled the boats in using ropes using their hands, shoulders etc. You could see the boatmen are all very strong and fit. When we reached back to the ferry, these boatmen rowed off in their boats back to their homes and the exchange of goodbye waves were quite something, considering how isolated the place was apart from these tourist trips. I sincerely hope more tourists can come to visit this place as it would be a significant income for those families still residing near or within this area.

The ship reached the 1st gate of the Three Gorges barrage at about 8 pm. I guess everyone was really excited and overawed by magnitude of the construction, except perhaps the Belgian guests who had seen their own proven technology and history of building dams back in their own country. I supposed they too, marvelled at the scale of such a construction. There were a total of 5 sections that ships/vessels need to pass through this barrage and each section took at least a couple of hours to complete with the closing of the gates, equalisation of the water level differential between adjacent sections via pumping in or drawing out the water, opening of the gate into the next section, moving all vessels to the next section etc. These were repeated for each of the 5 sectors. The pumping in or drawing out of water (as the case may be) takes the most time.

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