These are photos from Chongqing and onwards to the Yangtze
Yesterday's China Daily had a bottled water scare with worm eggs under the cap so that caught Natalia's attention.
Other pieces in the paper were the high speed rail derailment near Shanghai (user error), as well as some great opinion
pieces on homosexuality. Natalia thought the boy next to us had terrible smelling feet, but the other train cars (even
though just about brand new) smelled terrible compared to ours (5 seats per row rather than 4). It seems quite striking
how little emphasis there is on maintenance and on doing a good job rather than getting to the fastest speed of high speed rail.
Colleen met us at the clown show train station where it was easily 41 degrees already. With Humidex, this was likely the
hottest day either Natalia or I have experienced (somewhere in the 47-50 range). Colleen is divorced, her English was not
that good, and she did not have a lot of great ideas of places to spend time. We had lunch in a private room at a
restaurant, which was kind of odd but decent. It also had a private bathroom too.
The 3 Gorges Museum had their signature exhibit closed (Natalia thinks to change some of the language since the
gvt knows there are problems now) so this 2 hour museum tour turned into one of the weakest museum tours I've done
due to a more or less provincial museum about the city of Chongqing. I'd say that this was more like the North Battleford
WDM than a National 4A museum. The paleolithic stuff was surprising as I didn't realize that people had lived here for
so long. Very backwards though and it seems like the industrial revolution completely skipped this region.
Another day - another round of 'heat haze'. This is the provincial Communist headquarters. Nice building.
Natalia plays foreground here to the little kid with the split pants. As much as I initially thought this was
a few kids with torn pants, this is actually a double-stitched pair of kids pants so that if the kid needs to
'drop trou', he/she's free to do it. Really.
The city of Chongqing has ~7 million people in it
but the greater region is actually run as a federal city, sort of like Washington DC. Part of the reason for
this was so that the Communist Party could completely control the area around the Three Gorges Dam, but no one
said that out loud. This is the view from up on a hill looking down on some of the downtown.
Next, we went to an old Flying Tigers museum focused on artwork to support the museum. The US Air Force was
very well-treated by the historical displays and I was surprised to see the international relations work that
the old General's wife Anna played in the 80s and 90s. The hump flights also received much attention. Natalia
bought some leaf skeleton paintings which were quite neat. This is the area around a park that is the highest point in the city.
I think these roofs are really attractive.
The park itself was well-treed and had a lot of banyan trees. The shade was much appreciated.
This was our last stop before doing one of Natalia's favourite activities - shopping in a foreign city.
Natalia got to spend a hour wandering a supermarket with Colleen telling us what we were looking at.
Natalia loved this and got to see many products she had never seen before. The packaged chicken feet is
still the weirdest product I've seen to date. Nati picked up cucumber chips and lime chips as well as Skittles
and water. I think this is a tower we stopped at enroute to having supper.
Natalia and our tour guide Colleen just before we boarded our cruise ship.
I thought it was really awesome that they had a real-deal brass band playing for us as we boarded.
Video inside the Victoria Anna Cruise Ship
We were promptly upgraded to the top floor of the boat (Natalia thinks that since we are white).
This is the view from the back of the boat looking back at the central business district of Chongqing.
One of Natalia's favourite aspects of the cruise ship was the lounge. I think she sampled pretty much
every cocktail on the menu in the lounge. Part of this is that our cabin was about 4 steps from the
lounge. We stuck around a little later than we should have and wound up watching a private show that
looked to be only for VIPs... I think we actually met the cruise owner at one point. The German cruise
director, Marion, is a typically German woman and spent a lot of our 'welcome reception' telling the
guests what they weren't allowed to do (hang laundry off their balconies, spit on the carpet, etc). Yeah,
they only JUST started allowing domestic Chinese to ride this boat.
We woke up in our room due to the heat. Insane heat. It was 28 degrees C at 8 AM. And, the AC worked a
little bit, but definitely not well. I went down to try out tai chi with Dr Xu - our ship doctor. He was
getting berated by the German cruise director for being 1 min late. Too awesome.
I thought the 'Proper Price Pharmacy' was pretty awesome. Especially since it was in a kiosk.
We went on a shore excursion to Fengdu - the ghost city to see the 1600 year old temple to the god
of the underworld - Yama.
Our guide (Nick) was clearly challenged by the mass of people and it seemed like he's more like us as
he was trying mostly to avoid people and crowds although to no effect. We had a mixed nationality group
of Chileans, Spaniards, kiwis, Koreans, and us. Our German cruise director made me laugh this morning with
her contempt for the Spaniards as they were late to start the tour. Imagine the feeling in Germany of bailing out
the Greeks. Here we are waiting for the Spaniards I think.
Some of the statues on the way into the temple made Natalia laugh. This is somehow all about 'bad children'
getting thoroughly beaten.
This is a guy emptying out a pitcher of beer. Yummy!
These are some statues inside the temple to Yama. The look on this guy's face was awesome.
I think this guy MIGHT be upset. What do you think?
This was a torture chamber showing all the various ways people would be punished depending on their crime.
I have no idea what a guy would do that would justify sawing him in half.
This guy is being beaten into a hole. I guess you take your kids here to show them what will happen to them
if they disobey their parents.
Natalia and I outside the temple to Yama.
This is our boat waiting for us on the water.
I'm not sure what the story is with the giant Buddha head.
I really do love the roofs and the ornamentation on the roofs in China. Again, note the haze looking
across the river.
After returning to the bottom of the hill (Mingshuan mountain), Natalia found a frozen peach bar that
she said was the best ice cream she's had here. The amount of line jumping, elbowing, and pushing going
on here is just about to make Natalia lose her mind. She actually wagged her finger at a Korean lady who
tried to sit next to me on the electric carts back to the boat.
Nati and I enjoyed just being on the deck and watching the villages and the terraced hills go by.
The 'captain's reception' was funny if only for the fact that I was the first to get a plate and about
the 40th to get through the appetizers. Natalia wasa losing her mind about people budding in line, elbowing her,
and pushing her. I legitimately had two different ladies reach right past (and touch) my balls as they were grabbing
food to beat me to it. Really people. For deep fried chicken balls. Unreal. After this debacle, we decided to retire for
the night. This is Natalia double-fisting on our balcony, along with some cucumber chips.
Day 3 on the boat
I woke up early to be the only guy for the first round of tai chi. It was quite funny - I was waiting
at the front of the Yangtze club by myself having a coffee and the Dr came by, looked around, and without
speaking, we just went to their exercise floor and started. Too funny. By the 2nd round, there were 2 other
people exercising too. We went down for breakfast and then Natalia went back to bed and I went to watch
Chinese 101 language lessons. I learned about tones and the numbering system and the instructor
(Andy the river guide) showed videos of the shapes of characters and how they got their symbols.
This is the view as we're starting to enter the Qu Tang Gorge.
An old city wall with what looked like a lighthouse but was more likely some kind of temple structure.
Natalia, as we're entering the Qu Tang Gorge. I kept thinking that the guide was saying Wu Tang Gorge
and it made me laugh every time.
Along our continued journey of Chinese money, here is the Qu Tang Gorge on the 10 RMB note. This is not
quite two dollars CDN.
This is showing how low the water level is in the Yangtze River. The 175m mark is where the reservoir is designed
to be operating.
The limestone cliff along the Gorge and some of our fellow passengers.
This shows a couple of things - One, it shows where the high water mark is. If you look closely, you can
also see the trail that earlier Chinese used to use to pole boats up the Gorge before motors were used.
In those days, the rapids were deadly and it was challenging to get most boats up this Gorge.
Here you can see old Chinese characters carved and painted into the rock cliffs. Many archaeological works
and historical artifacts were covered with the filling of the reservoir.
Video of the First Gorge in the 3 Gorges
Natalia with her hair blowing as we travel through the Gorge.
A single fishing boat traveling through the dirty Yangtze. We saw a LOT of garbage in the river, including
(strangely) a lot of shoes, plastic bags, and debris.
I think these are actually coal seams or repositories that are then fed down to a boat for shipping.
We had a bite of lunch and learned that our planned ferry outing would be delayed since the Chinese
are wiring some bridge that we're going under and only told the boat line earlier this morning. Our
German host seemed quite upset about it and seemed to find it in opposition to her German sensibilities.
'Why they did not tell us sooner?', she said. Too entertaining. After the delay, we left about 130 pm for
a smaller ferry that took us up the Da Ling river to see the lesser 3 gorges area.
The boat was split with the internationals up and the larger Chinese contingent down. Nati took a prime
seat right by the AC as the day was very hot. With Humidex, I'm guessing it was almost 50 deg C.
Only fools and Englishmen would be out in this heat (and us). I thought this lady holding out the
Chinese flag was pretty funny.
Natalia outside the boat (for a short time) to take a photo with a bridge.
Anywhere in North America, a cruise boat on a sunny day would have hordes of people wanting to be outside.
Judging by the empty seats, you can tell it was hot.
Natalia and I in the Lesser Three Gorges. I think this one is called the Misty Gorge.
If you look closely on this cliffside, you'll see a small cave opening where the natives used to place
their dead in hanging coffins. This would be done from on top of the cliff, so I can't imagine it was
an occupationally safe environment.
Here is a waterfall coming out of the rock.
This is an actual walking bridge built into the side wall of the gorge.
This is a big sign that says 'Monkeys here'. They actually have native rhesus monkeys in the gorge
area, but I'm quite sure they feed them in order to show the tourists. We saw a few of them for sure.
Imagine these peaks with another few hundred metres of elevation on them.
I thought this cake with the mice on it was pretty cute.
Video of the dancing at the variety show
Some dissonant music
We got back to our boat and had a served dinner (the best dish was the green beans). The AC was not
working well and we all sweat through supper time. Afterwards, there was a cabaret show with the crew
members singing and dancing, as well as a magic show.
They also did a few games to stimulate crowd involvement. I wound up on stage dancing some
ridiculous dance and then the Macarena.