This is the most spectacular scenery of the trip. The view on the back of the 10 yuan note is the same as the view above (except without the mist).
Where We Be
Beautiful view of the sun setting at the beginning of our Yangtze River cruise
Yangtze River Cruise
In Yichang we board the Galaxy Cruise Ship for
our three-day Yangtze River cruise. This is
something we've always wanted to do, and
we're glad to be doing it before the Yangtze
reaches its full height. We sail up Xiling Gorge --
the first of three dramatic gorges -- on a hazy
afternoon, but the green hills rising up on
either side of us are beautiful nonetheless.

At Three Gorges Dam, we enter the first lock
with four other ships. One is a magnificent 5-
star cruise ship, another a beat-up old scow
with a forlorn cow tied to a metal post on the
back deck. Once the huge lock doors swing
shut behind us, the water levels rise incredibly
swiftly, then the front lock doors swing open
and we proceed to the next lock.

Once we're through all the locks, we open our
cabin window wide to enjoy the lovely views,
the cool breeze, and the sound of the chugging
motor. Terraced farms rise above the shore,
soon to be submerged. It’s the dry season at
present so water levels are low, but once the
rains arrive in May, the river will rise again.
Every mile or so we see a white placard rising
above the shoreline with numbers posted on it
indicating the current water level. The highest
number is 175 m -- indicating the eventual high
water mark of 175 meters above sea level.

On the second afternoon we pass through
scenic Wu Gorge and Qutong Gorge. The crew
lets us know when the scenery is at its best,
and at these points we head topside to enjoy
the views. The vertical cliffs rise to impressive
heights, and the rising waters won't have much
of an impact on the gorgeous scenery here. At
one dramatic spot, our guide points out that the
view on the back of the 10 yuan note is the
same as the view we’re looking at. We all pull
out our ten yuan notes and stare at them. Yep!

When the scenery turns less dramatic, we
return to our room, idly watching the scenery
pass by our window. It’s all very mellow -- a nice
break from the fast pace of the rest of the trip.
We see farmers cultivating terraces halfway up
the slopes, women washing clothes on flat
stretches of rock along the Yangtze,
demolished villages near the water line, and the
ubiquitous 175 m placards -- implacable
reminders that whatever we’re seeing near the
level of the river won’t be here a year from now.
The big selling point of our cabin is the large picture window
that slides open and offers great views of the Yangtze
Lovely scenery near the end of our first day on the river
In the evening, Robin learns how to do the Chinese fan dance in preparation for a talent show. Meanwhile, I play a round of mah jongg. I get a kick
out of the Chinese guy behind me who speaks no English but “advises” me with great gusto as to which tile I should play next. He gets into animated
discussions with others on the staff as to why such-and-such a tile should be played next, then they all nod in agreement and one says, “Play that one.”
Is it a coincidence that "misty" and "mystical" sound so similar? Certainly the scene above qualifies as both.
Sampans move up and down the river, relying solely on oars and human muscle to get from place to place
Wu Gorge and Qutong Gorge offer some of the most impressive scenery of the trip
The city of Fuling (right) is a thriving port city with an enormous bermed wall built around it
to protect it from the rising waters. We saw more than one city bracing for the inevitable.
These foldable hats are not only portable but quite fetching!
The ship even offers a Chinese dumpling demo!
The misty Yangtze has a beauty all its own
I begin Day 2 by trying tai chi at 6:30 am on the top deck -- but quickly
move on to being a spectactor after realizing I have no tai or chi
High above us, in an inaccessible crevice of the cliff, is one of the mysterious “hanging coffins” of the ancient Ba people. Can you see it?
The one and only time you'll ever catch me singing karaoke
Numbered signs indicate how high the water level is at present.
Near the top is 175 m -- the eventual height of the water.
Excited to be heading deeper into the interior of China
In the morning we visit Shennong Stream (see next page). That
afternoon we pass through dramatic Wu Gorge and Qutong Gorge.
Colorful oranges draw the eye