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Cruising...

June 24

Having seen Chengdu and visited the main sights of the area (namely the Panda Reserve and the Giant Buddha) we decided to move on to our next port of call - Chongqing (haha its funny you see because it’s a port). The aim here was to find a cheap cruise down the Yangtze River so that we could see the Three Gorges and the famous Three Gorges Dam.

In China they have 3 cities that are known as the three furnaces because of how hot they can get in the Summer, one of these is Chongqing. Chongqing is one of the more heavily populated cities in China and this probably goes to add to this furnace effect with cars in even greater abundance here than anywhere else we’ve seen.

Having arrived at Chongqing train station we were met by somebody from our hostel who accompanied us on a bus to our hostel. However about a third of the way through the journey, the bus was clearly having problems until after another mile or so it completely gave up the ghost. This left us waiting for another bus, and gave us just enough time to form a

We gorged ourselves on views like this
We gorged ourselves on views like this
negative opinion of the city. We only walked for about 5 minutes but we could tell the streets were very polluted and mucky. We arrived at our hostel around an hour later and had made the decision that we were not to do any sight seeing in Chongqing as there was nothing of any interest. We would just get out of the city as soon as possible.

We arrived at the hostel and let them know that we were only interested in staying for one night as we were planning on finding a river cruise, then they circled us like hawks eyeing up a mouse. They pressured us to read their cruise guide and whilst we were they stood next to us watching. They made us feel really uncomfortable so they pretty much guaranteed themselves that they weren’t going to get our business. We decided we would spend tomorrow finding a cruise. Each of us happy with our decision we checked out there DVD collection and watched the delightful Johnny Depp singing in Sweeney Todd. He’s so dreamy. Then back off to our hard, uncomfortable, sweaty bedroom for some sleep.

June 25

Having already decided that Chongqing
Dam unimpressive
Dam unimpressive
By the way, with puns like these if anybody knows of a job going at The Sun let me know
was a hole from merely our bus journey the previous day, we decided that the only aim for the day was to find somewhere that would do a suitable tour for us, then we would sit back and relax in the smoggy air. Having checked out we walked about 100 yards down the road to a nearby hostel we had picked up a leaflet for (oddly our hostel had leaflets advertising its rivals(?) ). We enquired about the cruises that they did and they were very helpful and were able to get us on a cruise that night. The tour we agreed on gave us the opportunity to see the Three Gorges Dam, the Lesser Three Gorges, and included in the price was the price for transport to the port about 3 and half hours away and at the other end transport to our next hostel at Wuhan.

After our long bus journey, where we had acquired an extra to the group by the name of Gordon from Bristol, we got on to our ferry and sized up our third class room for the next two nights. When the four of us got to our 6 bed room there were already two Chinese people sat in there. Fair enough we thought that makes up the full quota of people. Not so for the Chinese man in this couple, he got the attention of one of the stewards and started really strongly complaining to them. Whilst he was complaining he kept pointing at our friend Chris. We imagined that he was upset at having to share a room with an American, its understandable really.

The room itself was OK, the toilet however was a problem that only got worse. The bathroom can not have been 2m squared however it brought to the world a revolution in the world of bathroom design. Are you tired of getting out the shower to go to the toilet? Well that problem will never affect you with China Ferry Co.’s new revolutionary 2-in-1 toilet and shower unit. It really is very simple the shower was basically overhanging the toilet.

Now theres nothing uncleanly about that. Even at the start of the trip the room smelt, but it only got worse as the trip progressed. So under these conditions, there was no way on earth we were going to have a shower.

Thursday 26th June

We woke up at 6am to appreciate the views of the Gorges. The scenery was really beautiful and the early morning mist gave the place an eerie but not altogether unpleasant feel.

We had our 3 Lesser Gorges trip first so we climbed upon another boat and set sail. This smaller boat took us to main areas of the Lesser Gorges. The gorges were severe, massive cliffs that the boat went between. They were very impressive, however for me after I had seen the first one there seemed little need to see all of them as they were basically very similar looking. After a few hours, and having seen some wild monkeys on the riverside, we got onto a still smaller boat where we went onto an area of water where the river got thinner and this really added to the magnitude and grandiosity of the Gorges.

Having hopped back on the medium sized boat we went to an ‘ancient’ village who’s name I can’t remember. This ancient village just happened also to be a market town where you could spend some money on your very own Three Gorges merchandise. Fancy that.

From here the boat was now on its way back to the big boat (it is confusing isn’t it) as we had seen everything. Normally this would be an opportunity to get some sleep and relax however, one of the stewards was hell bent on making this impossible. She talked literally non stop for over an hour over the microphone. Half way through she even started a song and dance routine. Tired, this was the closest I’d ever come to killing anybody.

After the medium boat had got back to the port where the big boat was waiting for us (presumably the stewardess had shut up by now, she’s probably still going now), we got on board and had some much deserved sleep, before a few games of cards on the cockroach infested upper floors and then bed.

Fri 27th June

Today we saw the world famous Three Gorges Dam. China holds the building of the Three Gorges Dam with a great amount of pride. The Dam is held in the highest regard in China as being at the pinnacle of cutting edge technology and to partner this, they have decided to make it a tourist attraction like the Hoover Dam in Ohio, USA.

We arrived at the site and first went to the tourist centre where we were shown a model of the dam. A lady tried to explain to us how the dam works, however her English wasn’t great. We did pick up one thing however that was fairly cool, they have a boat elevator. If a boat wants to travel through the dam they go in this huge room, wait whilst the room gains more and more water until the boat is at the new higher level then it can travel away through the other side of the dam. That was by far the most interesting thing at this site.

The Dam itself wasn’t impressive at all. In fact it looked just like a sewage plant, except slightly cleaner. This is the statement that Chinese put forward about how they are the next super power, they use this site to declare their intent to rival the other top nations. However it’s just not in any way impressive and I think the fact that they hold it so dear gives indication that they are a bit behind the West. I was expecting something as grand as the Hoover Dam, unfortunately this wasn’t.

Also, there are a lot of controversial politics that has surrounded the building of this Dam. For instance, because of the construction of the Dam, a projected 4 million people are having to be moved to an already overpopulated Chongqing. Another problem is the habitats it will take away; 1300 archaeological sites as well as endangering the livelihoods of some species of animals. The Baiji or Yangtze River Dolphin is a species of Dolphin unique to this area of this River and the Dam is likely to destroy its numbers. Also the Siberian Crane often spends its Winters in this area and the numbers of this bird are expected to reduce dramatically.

Worryingly they are proud to announce that the dam is capable of withstanding an earthquake of up to 7.0 on the Richter Scale. Which is OK but the most recent Earthquake in nearby Sichuan was 7.8.

Having been thoroughly underwhelmed we were directed to the gift shop before we were driven to Wuhan where we spent the night after a cold shower (a better prospect than the 2-in-1 ferry shower). We booked ourselves on an evening train to Shanghai (where we could easily get back to Changzhou) before relaxing in our hostels DVD room with Iron Man, what a film.

Overall we had a very good mini-excursion to Chengdu then cruising back, however unfortunately we all agree that it started really, really high but unfortunately the sights got lower in quality as we went on. If we had another opportunity we would do this journey backwards, the ferry first then get to Chengdu, as Chengdu was clearly the highlight. Definitely one of the best places in China to visit, if not the best.
Article from:http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/China/Chongqing/Chongqing/blog-302090.html