The Three Gorges

Leaving Chongqing was made nicer by boarding the cruise ship, Splendid China, knowing that the Three Gorges were ahead of me. The Three Gorges, part of the “mighty Yantze River”, is a famous tourist site for Chinese and Westerners alike. I spent the trip sharing a room with a Chinese tourist which, apart from improving my Chinese, was an experience all to it’s own. The staff, mainly Wuhanese, were also a highlight of the boat. Cheerios go to Eric and Linda!

The Splendid China docked at the
entrance to Shennong Stream

Coming back from White Emperor City

The first stop on the cruise was Fengdu, otherwise known as “The Ghost City”. As legend goes, the Ghost City is the point where ghosts find out whether they can enter the netherworld. As actuality goes, it’s a point crammed with tourists and consisting of a few temples, none of which are actually very exciting. The main points of interest were the three tests that ghosts must undertake in order to reach the netherworld. Firstly, at the Temple of Heng and Ha, ghosts that had misbehaved are knocked down by Guardian Heng’s roar of dazzling light and Guardian Ha’s yellow wind. Secondly, at the “Nothing-To-Be-Done Bridge”, a ghost who cannot walk across in three strides are considered villians, knocked down into the river below and deprived of choosing a new life. For those ghosts that managed to pass the second test, they could choose a life of wealth, love or prosperity. Thirdly, at the Ghost Torturing Pass, “customers” throw a coin into the basin of water owned by the Shopkeepers. If the coin sinks, the ghost is allowed to pass. If the coin floats, it is considered unacceptable and the ghost is not allowed to pass.

The first test… can you pass?

The second test…
I went for the wealth option!

Hmmm… apparently if you slap the bottom
three times your children and grandchildren
will be better behaved???

The guardians of the third test…

That evening we celebrated our entry onto the cruise ship with a welcome party. It was here that I got my first chance at ballroom dancing since leaving Australia. I was fairly surprised that Eric, one of the table waiters on the ship, could actually dance a Viennese Waltz. Well, at least he could dance it until he needed to change rotation direction at which point he did struggle. We saw some traditional Chinese dancing and some less traditional Latin American dancing but I did really enjoy the night. Apologies for no photos but I am hoping that blogger gets the video upload on soon and I can download some videos of the night for you all.

Day Two saw the second stop on the cruise, White Emperor City, a much more pleasant place partly because it is an optional stop and therefore entertains less tourists. It was also much more impressive, in particular the courtyard. It is said that the city was founded by Gongsun Shu in 25 AD during the Eastern Han Dynasty when he saw smoke in the shape of a white dragon coming out of the well and declared himself the White Emperor. It is also famous for it’s point at the entrance of Qutang Gorge, the first gorge on the way from Chongqing to Yichang. Personally, I liked the courtyard in the centre of the city.

The entrance to White Emperor City

Scene depicted the death of the original Emperor

The awesome courtyard… did I ever tell you how much I like bridges

The first of the courtyards

At this point, the ship cruised into the first of the three gorges, Qutang Gorge, and we spent about thirty minutes looking at the side of mountains. The scenery was nice, but not spectactular, especially after thirty minutes of same old same old.

Entrance to the Qutang Gorge

A beautiful and, to me anyway, unknown Temple

The narrowest point of the Gorge

The awesome formations on the side of the Gorge

After Qutang Gorge, the cruise passed through the second of the Three Gorges, Wu Gorge. I thought that Wu Gorge was the most spectactular, in particular the shapes of the peaks on either side. According to legend these peaks are actually Yao Ji, the youngest daughter of the Heavenly Mother and her eleven fairy handmaidens. Shennu Feng, or Goddess Peak, is said to be the embodiment of Yao Ji. She is now seen as a protector of the people, guiding sailing boats through the gorge and easing the Yantze’s infamous floods.

View of the Gorge

Further along the Gorge

Goddess Peak (see the Goddess just to the right of the two stones on the left)

After cruising through the last of the three gorges we boarded a smaller boat and cruised through the smaller gorges of Shennong Stream. The scenery here was much better than the larger gorges as the river was narrower and the cliffs rose up on either side without a view of what was ahead. The highlight of the cruise was getting on to a smaller boat similar to a canoe and being taken across “rapids” by trackers. Trackers used to take cargo through the Three Gorges area before larger boats were introduced to the river. Traditionally, they were naked and at the bottom of the human chain. When they arrive at rapids, they get out of the boat and drag the boat through the rapids by walking along the side of the cliffs and pulling the boat with ropes. Unfortunately for us as tourists they are now made to wear clothes although a small pair of shorts does not necessarily mean that they are fully-clothed.

View in Shennong Stream



After this, we boarded our cruise boat again and headed off into the night. We celebrated the evening in style with our farewell dinner, including snake wine. Then we headed upstairs to a talent show provided by staff and guests. A great night was had by all but, once again, no photos. Sorry.

The next day we awoke to the Three Gorges Dam, and surprise of surprises it was pretty damn boring. I mean, a dam is a dam right? Anyway, have attached a couple of photo’s for those of you who like them.

“No turning over” the wall?

The part of the dam where the ships go in, then the water is released to the level of the lower part of the dam and the ships go out the bottom door.

A diagram of the dam.

After the dam we had a farewell lunch and then headed off home. I managed to scam a lift with Eric, who was going back to Wuhan to visit his family although the lift did include a four hour train trip on a regional train. Not the most attractive of trains but we managed to have fun. Got home to welcome the new teachers to the apartment and then the fact that the lock to my room was indeed broken. Finally got in and crashed, ready for work the next day.