Saturday, July 23, 2011

Three Gorges Cruise Part I (7/23/2011)

Saturday, July 23, 2011
Our first excursion iwas to the Fengdu Ghost City. At first I thought it was a ghost town in the sense that much of the city was submerged when they built the Three Gorges Dam. But Fengdu has always been a town for dead people. Because the temple areas were at the high points, it survived the higher water levels.
We disembarked and had to climb 200 steps:
The MS Yangtze Paradise is the first of three boats abreast:
Hot and tired already!
You could snack on pig noses:
We were headed up there:
Still some climbing to do (plus 200 more steps!):
Waiting for the rest of the group to catch up:
The Chinese believe that all spirits (of all nationalities) come here after death. They have three tests to determine if they go to heaven or hell. The first test is crossing the middle of three parallel bridges, and if the vipers don't get you or if you don't fall in the water, you pass.
Guardian of the Nothing-To-Be-Done-Bridge:
Since we weren't dead, our "test" was, as a couple, to hold hands if you wish to spend the next life with the same partner: Are they holding hands as they cross?
Hmm, doesn't look like everyone chose to hold hands:
We had same-sex couples holding hands; that is commitment!
Well, the other two bridges were to be crossed if you wanted wealth or longevity, and our guide made us choose only one.
So Tamiko took wealth and Kent took longevity to cover all bases.
Bridge reflection:
Along the way was a test for husbands. If you could place this 400# weight on the point in the center, you were a good husband:
A displaced farmer (a little guy) had "practiced for ten years" and would do it for tips:
After seeing how it was done, one of the members of our group was able to accomplish this feat!
The Temple of the God of Heaven:
If you rub your right hand (females, left for males) along this character, you were assured longevity. Since Brynne chose the wealth bridge, she opted to do this for longevity:
The god of Heaven:
This temple had been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, and just recently re-opened after renovation.
Dragon carving on a column:
I think these are good gods:
Use of broken porcelain tiles on the roof:
Carved stone relief of birds:
Temple of 100 Babies:
Note all the babies are boys!
Guanyin, goddess of Mercy:
Pray to her for a baby.
Interior ceiling detail:
Exterior roof detail:
View towards the new city of Fengdu:
The next test for the dead is the Ghost Torturing Pass. You must pass through a gauntlet of demons. I am not sure if that is here where there are stone demons, such as the one who punishes naughty boys:
If we live people pat the bottom of this boy, our boys will be good...
Or this "demon" punishes vain girls or playgirls:
And this one is for playboys:
Okay, this one was described as "Mother Nature:"
What is she doing here, or is she really something else?!
Then the demon for drunkards:
However, if you rub his belly, you will be able to drink without ever getting drunk!
Um, the demon of arsonists?
Forked tongue?
Demon for bad muscians?
Let's make him the demon for violent people...
Now we step through the gate into hell:
To make sure you come back, males lead with the left foot and females with the right...
The Last-Glance-Towards-Home Tower:
Where spirits could take a last look at home, before drinking the tea that will make them forget this life.
Tianzi Palace/Home of the god of Hell:
This temple was not destroyed by the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution:
The spititual influence of the god of Hell was just too scary.
Outside this temple is the third test, being able to stand on one foot for three minutes:
And inside the temple; perhaps this is where the dead go through the Ghost Torturing Pass:
Next up are the four judges:
They also keep a list and an accounting of all that passes here. Bureaucracy...
The god of Hell:
Everything is black and blue in this temple, black for death and blue for cold. It's cold in Chinese Hell!
Next was a little diorama to show what it is like in Hell:
The pagoda:
View toward a hotel:
The giant Buddha head is the parking garage...
View down onto our river cruise boat:
View of the public cemeteries:
Roof detail:
Heading back down:
Fixing the broken cable car...
Wobbly gangplank:
The public cemeteries:
Back on the boat, the view from our balcony:
A bridge:
Channel marker:
Orchards and farm terraces:
Sun Deck:
Note the low clearance on the smokestack!
One of two lifeboats:
Depth marker:
Dinner place setting:
Clappers (Made in China) for the Crew Show:
Dance routine:

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