For me, the name Yangtze River is quite familiar. It was always mentioned in the textbook through out the school years; the longest river in Asia, the third longest river in the world and it was an important area for human life in Asia. Other than that, I didn’t know much about it, especially about traveling. A few years back when I had a long weekend, I thought about cruising Yangtze River. But since I only had a week, I decided not to. The scenery looked amazing from the photo.
So when I was planning this trip to China, cruising Yangtze River crossed my mind. And the opportunity came. From April 11 to April 14, from Chongqing to Yichang, I cruised the Yangtze River, finally.
Among the total length 6,418 kilometers (3,988 mi), the three gorges region is one of the highlights of the Yangtze River scenery. Three Gorges region has a total length of approximately 200 kilometers (120 mi). The Three Gorges occupy approximately 120 kilometers (75 mi) within this region. Although it is primarily famous for its scenery, the Three Gorges region is also a historically and culturally important location in China.
We started the cruise from Chongqing. As the river goes downstream, we cruised the first gorge – Outang Gorge and the second and the most famous gorge Wu Gorge on the third day. The weather wasn’t really great for the last two days but luckily it cleared up for us tourists. Outang Gorge is 7 kilometers long and the highest peak of the three gorges is located in Outang gorge.
Last but not least, we cruised through the third, Xiling Gorge on the last day of the cruise. Xiling gorge used to be the most dangerous route to cruise because the water was too shallow, but it is safe now because the dam raises the water level.
On the side note, Chongqing skyline is not bad to look at.
Because of the development around Yangtze River, some of the attractions developed with the tour program.
The town of Shibaozhai is a hill along a bank of the Yangtze River. The town is well known for their 12 stories pagoda that built on the cliff. People were climbing to the top of the hill to pray, but it a lot of people lost their lives because it was extremely dangerous. In the year 1819, the nine-story pavilion was constructed adjacent to the cliff to aid people in getting to the top of the hill. In 1956, three more stories were added at the top of the structure. And every floor of the wooden structure contains interesting artifacts. Each of the 12 floors of Shibaozhai is dedicated to a famous general of the Three Kingdoms period (220-265AD), a local scholar. When you reach the top, you’ll meet the king of the heaven. I prayed in front of him, hope my wish will come true. We’ll see!
The Shennong stream is famous for their naked male boat trekkers. True story. In the old days, the people used to wear a cloth made with a natural fabric and apparently it became very itch when its wet. So the boatmen naturally started working naked to be more comfortable. Well, now you can’t see the scene due to a lot of visitors, though.
The Shennong Stream is located in between the first and the second gorge, Qutang Gorge and Wu Gorge. It has been inhabited since at least the Han Dynasty; the primary ethnic group of the river valley has been the Tujia people. The Early history of the settlement is proved by the mysterious hanging coffins stowed in clefts on the high vertical limestone cliffs. You can still see few of the leftovers. The view is amazing. The whole tour took about 3 hours, and the beautiful limestone cliffs became a very good company.
It is big. No need to repeat this is world’s the largest dam; because I can see that. It’s huge. The Three Gorges Dam was the last one on the list for the cruise. It located in the third gorge, Xiling Gorge, in the Yiling District of Yichang, in Hubei province.
Before visiting the dam, we went in the five-level-lock of the dam. It brought us down to 65 meters from 165 meters. It took four hours to complete the process. I watched a couple of the lock, and it was pretty impressive. Just couldn’t imagine how big it was from the inside.
The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity (21,000 MW). It is 2.3 kilometers long and 101 meters high. It took 16 years to complete the construction, and they are still building extra parts like ship lifts for smaller boats (small boats can’t use the lock). The cruise ships have to reserve the lock and it’s free.
The dam changed life along the Yangtze River, completely. The maximum water level differences before and after the dam are 100 meters. Because the water level was raised, government relocates the people on the hillside along the Yangtze River. The government built new buildings on the hill for people to move in, and the people’s occupation changed from farmer to various other ones. For example, our boatmen from Shennong stream were fishermen but they live by roaring tour boats now.
Clearly, building the dam made the national-wise effects, and seems like it is under control.
I’ve been on few cruises, but never the scenic cruise. I think the reason people love to cruise is because of the feeling. Literally, you are floating on the river with everything you need. It’s a little world. No need to seek for anything from the outside world while you’re on the cruise ship. Everything’s there. I worked in the free time, but it never felt like working. It was just so relaxing. Food is served in time, you have crews to take care of anything you need, and you can even get a health check from a Chinese doctor, of course, this is only for Chinese cruises. Also, it gave me a chance to meet interesting travelers.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that great to enjoy the sun deck, but because of that, I had some relaxing time in my room, working, reading and listing music. For the four days, I was in whole another world.