I’m writing this from a 32nd floor apartment in the JiangBei (“North of the River”) District of the city of Chongqing, with a magnificent view of the city. We arrived in Chongqing on Tuesday morning, and by the time we catch up to writing about it we’ll have a lot to share, but I thought I’d mention what happened on our “five-day” (actually four night, three day, really) cruise on the Yangtze River from Yichang to Chongqing.
The Chinese call the river Changjiang, or ‘long river,’ because, well, it’s really long. I’m not really sure how much of it we traversed, but it felt like a lot. Just watching the small towns and villages (many of them brand new, since the water level has risen drastically due to the Three Gorges Dam) as we lazily floated by was a really interesting experience. Once again our internet connections is too slow for pictures, but we took many of the trees, rocks, and houses we passed.
Like any cruise (I assume), we spent a fair amount of time eating , sleeping, and lounging – in our case, watching episodes of British dramas like Luther (a thrilling but gruesome detective show in the vein of Prime Suspect) and Downton Abbey (a WWI period piece focusing on a kind of upstairs/downstairs cast of characters) and/or drinking tea and eating oranges and sunflower seeds on the balcony. Each day there was an excursion, though, just to get us up and about for a bit
On Saturday, we took a tour of the Three Gorges Dam site. While the dam is the biggest hydroelectric power project in the world, generating approximately 57 bazillion watts of something-or-other a year (whatever the actual number is, it’s 3% of China’s total electricity), it’s not all that exciting to look at unless you are really into hydroelectric power. And I suppose if you happen to be from China you might enjoy the tour as an American might a tour of, say, the Hoover Dam. Personally, I couldn’t muster a whole lot of interest in the dam itself. We also went through one of the three gorges that day – this is where the pictures would really come in handy, because the landscapes are truly beautiful. You have probably seen them on TV or in paintings; these vistas might be one of the things that pops into your head when you try to imagine what China looks like. Anyway, I suppose you’ll have to Google them. Sorry.
Later that night we went through the ship locks. The only locks I’d seen before were the Ballard Locks, which are pretty fun to watch, but these were many, many times bigger. I think it took over three hours to go through all five of them. I don’t know how much higher the water level is on the western side of the dam, but it’s a lot.
I don’t have much time to write as we’re getting up early for a tour of some nearby caves and Buddhist carvings tomorrow (the tour will be entirely in Chinese, so that should be interesting, if not entirely intelligible to us), but we’ll fill in more about our trip soon.