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Karen and I took the opportunity to embark on our Yangtze Cruise trip during the Chinese National Holiday from Oct. 1st to Oct. 7th. Starting our trip from Guilin, we flew into the big industrial city of Wuhan in Central China on the Yangtze River. It offered a pleasant surprise with clean street and riverside greenery and was totally different to the picture which we had in our minds.
We visited the provincial museum in that morning. It was a fantastic place but it is still relatively unknown to foreign tourists. The museum display includes a 20,000+ year old coffin, which is still in good condition. All the items in display were unearthed from one king's tomb dating back to Spring and Autumn Periods more than 2000 years ago. The ancient Chu music performance is the highlight. Chu, an ancient, strong kingdom ruling over today's Wuhan area was famous for its music. Many of China's classic pieces have been evolved from the ancient Chu music.
We took a local bus to Yichang in the afternoon which took about 4 hours. The bus condition is not as good as those you see in Guilin. There is a tiny toilet on the bus but you must not want to go there until being desperate. It wasn't really clean.
Yichang is small riverside city. The city looks very new and tidy. WE stayed in the Yichang International Hotel, which is the best hotel in the city. The view from the window was of the Yangtze River winding through the city and of the tranquil, lush riverside park. The local fish dish enjoys great fame among travelers and we tried it. There are many small restaurants almost serving the same food. It seems unfair to recommend any of them here. We casually stepped into one. The fish good tasted very good.
Our cruise was to start from Yichang but it was affected by the construction of second phrase of the Three Gorges Dam project and we were transferred to another dock near the Gezhou Dam site about 40 minutes away. The local guide was kind, caring and knowledgeable and gave us information about Yichang city and the Gezhou Dam. On our group there were several groups from different parts of the world. A boy aged about 3 attracted me. He was fairly lovely and he had also being talked to his mother on the way, but I just couldn't understand him.
Our bus stopped at the Gezhou Dam Site to allow travelers to enjoy the dam and scenery around it. It is really a huge dam and is being claimed as the largest in the world, 185 meters high and 2309 meters wide. Tourists are usually allowed to climb up to the top of the dam to taste its majesty but this practice during the National Holiday was banned by the Chinese government for safety reasons.
The dock where our ship was berthed was about 40 minutes away from the dam site. Our ship the Marco Polo was a newly decorated 4-star cruise ship.
The Yangtze River is the longest river in China and the third longest in the world after the Amazon and Nile.
The river originates in the far away Tibet and winds through China's vast west, central parts and empties to the East Sea at Shanghai. The Yangtze River along with the Yellow River is renowned as the Mother Rivers of China?as it has nourished China's long and splendid culture. The evidence is seen in the varied cultural heritage along the river. The section of the Yangtze from Yichang to Chongqing has abundant historical sites as well as beautiful natural scenery.
We reached the first gorge- the Xining Gorge in the afternoon. Xining Gorge is famous for its rapids which have consumed many boats over the centuries however the Gezhou Dam has changed all of this.
The next morning, we took the shore excursion to the Shennong Stream, an area now much more accessible because the water level has increased. We transferred to a medium sized boat which traveled for 40 minutes up newly created waterways between well wooded hills and sheer cliffs. The hanging coffins were clearly visible. Later passengers were transferred to an armada of peapod boats( small open sampans) which were manned by teams of rowers who towed the boat by rope to the top of small rapids as the stream became shallow. The trip back down was a pleasant “soft adventure? The total trip was about 3 hours.
On the third day we passed through the beautiful Wu and the Qutang Gorges. These parts of the gorges command some of the most stunning scenery with misty mountains of kind of thing you see in Chinese landscape paintings. The gorges are truly spectacular. Sheer cliffs soar up towards the sky from the brown-green water. Mountain tops hover above the ribbon of mist disconnected from their roots. Our boat went its way along the snaking river, creating an internal beauty unable to describe.
In the late afternoon we had a shore excursion to Baidi City. The city is built on the top of a riverside hill. The steps up are a bit tough. Baidi City is a historical city tracing it's beginnings to the Three Kingdom Periods. It was other called as?Poet city?as many of China's famous ancient poets once visited it and left behind their masterpieces.
The third day we visited the Fengdu Ghost City. It's a place for publishing the devil and awarding the good. The?City?is situated on a riverside hill called Mingshan. Cable cars are available and it costs 20 yuan for a round trip. There are many temples and stone sculptures there.
Our boat reached Chongqing on Oct. 7. Chongqing is a large city in the upstream of the Yangtze River. It is nicknamed?Mountain City as all of the buildings are built on the mountain slopes. We flew back to Guilin in that evening.