Saturday, July 12, 2008


Day 13: 16 March 2008
Itinerary: Yangtze River Cruise Day 3

This was the iterinary for the final day of the cruise and the shore excursion to the Three Gorges Dam project was supposed to be the grand finale. Unfortunately, heavy fog meant that we were stuck in the 5th sector of the barrage for a long long while as the authorities suspended all river traffic for safety reasons. The fog, as I found out lthe next day, was to affect highway traffic as well. We were to missed seeing the 3rd one - Xiling Gorge as well because by the time traffic were allowed it was already past 8 pm. We were supposed to disembark at Yichang by noon but end up getting stuck on the ship for most the day! The chef did prepare additional one lunch and one dinner for everyone.

The 5th and final sector
The max height at the first sector was 175m, the 5th and last sector was 95m. In total the ship had gone through roughly 80m of water depth shift to get through the 5 sectors of the barrage.

The fog was really heavy. It was my first time being fogged-in by the weather!

Everyone was getting impatient as the day stretched on. News of the situation were reported on the internet the crew told us, there was nothing anyone could do as we were all at the mercy of nature. There were some suggestions that the embassies of Germany and Belgium be informed so as to get assistance from the Chinese government to arrange alternative transportation out of the docks. Yes, the Diplomatic route! It could work! As news had been reported, supposedly the respective embassies would have taken notice as both the Belgian and German groups were quite sizable.
There was nothing pretty much to do except to sit and wait. Guests either stayed in their cabins and watch TV or played their card games, game machines etc. or hang around the bar area for drinks, chit-chat, learn to play some mahjong etc.
Ah! But what better time to take another tour of the ship, right?
The front desk

Most accessible bow area of the ship.

The main ballroom/bar
Taichi lessons
As the day dragged on, desperation began to set in, not only for the guests but also for the cruise operator as they had other groups coming on board for the return leg. The respective tour groups were making alternative plans on what to do next as time was running short. Most had given up on the prospect to visiting the Three Gorges Dam project or to see Xiling Gorge as they were well behind on schedule especially for onward destinations and flights especially. The Europeans all decided to disembark at the first location where the ship could dock upon leaving the barrage. The cruise manager informed everyone that the ship would be skipping Yichang altogether due to schedule constraint and the new guests would be transported by coaches to board at the first port nearest to the barrage. Guests who wished to visit the Three Gorges Dam the next morning could stay on and disembark the next day. After making some guesstimation, I concluded that it was not feasible for me to stay on so I opted to disembark tonight.

The plan was as follows:
(1) Disembark at the next stop
(2) Find transportation to get to Yichang
(3) Stay for the night at Yichang with easy access to the Long Distance Bus Terminal
(4) Take the 1st coach out in the morning: Yichang to Wuhan
(5) If time permits in Wuhan, visit the Yellow Crane Tower
(6) If no time then head straight to the Wuhan airport for the flight to Shenzhen

By the time the all-clear was given for 5th sector gates to be opened for all the vessels to push on it was already past 8 pm.

Vessels started to move off, luckily ours was the 1st batch.

The ship docked at the nearby port at close to 9 pm.
The cruise manager was kind enough to arrange for me land transportation to Yichang by way of tagging onto the coach that brought a new batch of guests from Yichang to the ship ad who was taking another local group from another ship to Yichang.
The local guide who brought the new group over to the ship was a nice young lady who was kind enough to also booked me into the hotel opposite the Long Distance Bus Terminal in Yichang.
And so everything turned out OK as I checked into the hotel for the night.
The other local group from another ship that took the same coach to Yichang was actually changing to a smaller bus in Yichang to head out to Wuhan overnight. The lady guide tried to asked the local guide for that group if I could bumped in with them for the ride to Wuhan but the local guide did not think it was a good idea as the bus was packed and there was no space left.
It was just a hopeful thought, to improve the odds of being able to visit Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan the next morning. Ah! Well, things were not bad as they were. Potentially it could have been much worse! My contingency plan still looked OK.
The hotel in Yichang

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