Holiday – China: Yangtze River Cruise


Friday 13 May

It’s an early start with a drive to Guilin before catching a flight to Chongqing before more traveling to our boat to begin a cruise along the Yangtze River.

Upon arriving we settled into our rooms. My roommate and I decided to pay a little extra for an upgrade which was well worth it as we have a much larger room to share over the course of the next 3 days.

We also headed into the city center of Chongqing which is a newly created province and the largest city in China with 36 million people! It doesn’t appear as big or as busy as Shanghai though.
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After catching breakfast and lunch on the go, it was nice to sit down for an early dinner. This is apparently Chinese fast food – pork with noodle soup. Yum. Tasty broth.
Pork with noodle soup
We visited Carrefour for shopping. I just had a walk around. They did have some unusual things, reflective of China of course – fresh fish and turtles available for purchase and slaughter.
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I waited outside for the others and did some people watching. This kid is traveling in style!
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We headed back and got an intro to the ship and what will be happening over the next 3 days as we cruise down the Yangtze River. Before you know it, it’s night time and Chongqing looks completely different at night.
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Saturday 14 May

We had been forewarned to arrive at least 15 minutes early to breakfast before all the Chinese passengers onboard turn up. My roommate and I did turn up early to the breakfast buffet and all the Chinese passengers were right behind us. We were able to help ourselves to what we wanted but after that it was very busy. Pretty good breakfast.

We then caught up with everyone else and continued chatting in the upper deck before most participated in a free tai chi lesson. I’ve not seen this before so I watched on in earnest. More chatting before going back to our rooms for a rest.

We were back to the upper deck for the captain’s welcome address. There was a table of little eats which everyone just went berserk over. People just push you out the way! I managed to get some food but it was a free for all! Crazy!
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Our guide told us to head to the dining room for lunch and just managed to get there before being swarmed by the Chinese passengers again. Others from our group just took a seat and watched before it quietened before going to help themselves. Good lunch.
Buffet
We got invited to the captain’s quarters to see all the controls. After that, time for a sleep.
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We keep cruising before stopping at the small city of Shibaozhai. We got off board and walked through before heading to the Red Pogoda, built with wood without using any nails!
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It had started raining very heavily during the journey so I didn’t choose to climb the 99 steep narrow stairs to the top with wet slippery shoes. Several others did though. You have to cross Drunk Bridge both times which has to be the dodgiest bridge I’ve crossed! It swings from side to side and some wood panels had displaced so you could see the drop below.
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Time for drying off before dinner.
Dinner presented another lovely spread of food to choose from for the buffet.
Buffet
Some time later we went to the upper deck to watch a talent show. Performers were generally the crew showcasing traditional Chinese dancing and also clothing from the following dynasties:

Hun
Tung
Ming
Ching

Passengers also joined in by dancing or singing.
Talent show on the ship - several segments performed by crew of traditional dress from different eras and also dancing
Talent show on the ship - several segments performed by crew of traditional dress from different eras and also dancing
Talent show on the ship - several segments performed by crew of traditional dress from different eras and also dancing
Talent show on the ship - several segments performed by crew of traditional dress from different eras and also dancing
Talent show on the ship - several segments performed by crew of traditional dress from different eras and also dancing
Talent show on the ship - several segments performed by crew of traditional dress from different eras and also dancing
Talent show on the ship - several segments performed by crew of traditional dress from different eras and also dancing
Talent show on the ship - several segments performed by crew of traditional dress from different eras and also dancing

Sunday 15 May

Breakfast buffet
Today was a very early start just to grab breakfast. Those who did were half asleep and we went back to bed. We got up later for a presentation on the three gorges. Below is the ship lock, a way to allow ships to move upstream or downstream given the considerable difference in the water levels either side of the dam (some 100m+).
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We entered the first gorge, Qutang Gorge, and observed the scenery and explanations.
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We then had lunch before entering the second gorge, Wu Gorge.
Lunch buffet
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We had an excursion going on another smaller boat through Goddess Stream.
20160515_YangtzeRiver_WuGorge_KangarooGoddessPeak
We met the people local to the region who guided us on the boat before singing and dancing once on land. Pretty catchy tune.
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We approached another city which was a change from the small villages.
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Just managed to catch this sunset at the opportune time.
China - Yangtze River - Sunset
For dinner it was the Captain’s farewell dinner so each table was served dishes that were once again delicious.
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Captain's farewell banquet
Two members in our tour had birthdays so they were brought to the front with happy birthday sung and then birthday cake presented.
Captain's farewell banquet
Later in the evening, we got taught how to play mahjong.
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We also passed through each of the shiplocks.

Monday 16 May

Another early breakfast had us out of bed before our excursion.
Breakfast buffet

I was really keen to go and see the Three Gorges Dam Tour. The river guide on tour had given us a presentation the day before which was excellent and gave some context. Later that night we passed through each of the five ship locks.
Shiplock
Three Gorges
Left downstream, right upstream
Three Gorges
Three Gorges
Three Gorges
Three Gorges
Three Gorges

Three Gorges
The tour was good but could have been so much better if there were better vantage points, if we could get a tour of the turbines, and if they had a musuem with videos of how the whole thing operates. The river guide’s presentation provided valuable context. The dam wall stretches some 6kms and powers 3% of China.

Chongqing Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges Dam on TripAdvisor

The tour finished and we were back on the ship where we passed through the final gorge, Xiling Gorge.
Xiling Gorge
Home to one of the Chinese minority people’s.
Xiling Gorge

After our cruise finished we drove to Yichang and had lunch at Shuai Ba Ren:
Yichang - lunch at Shuai Ba Ren
Yichang - lunch at Shuai Ba Ren
Yichang - lunch at Shuai Ba Ren
Yichang - lunch at Shuai Ba Ren
Yichang - lunch at Shuai Ba Ren
Yichang - lunch at Shuai Ba Ren
Yichang - lunch at Shuai Ba Ren
Yichang - lunch at Shuai Ba Ren
We then spent three next 5 hours in the shopping center before heading to the train station to board an overnight train to Xi’an. We also grabbed a quick bite for dinner. I’ve been enjoying the Chinese food on tour but sometimes you just need something Western – Dico’s fried chicken hit the spot.
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Some 12 hours later and we’re there. Six bunks to a cabin, quite a smooth ride, I managed to get a fair amount of sleep. Others didn’t. I also had to use the squat toilet for the first time. No dramas there.

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