Monday, July 25, 2011

Three Gorges Cruise Part III (7/25/2011)

Monday, July 25, 2011
A truly sunny day!
Our excursion this morning was to the Three Gorges Dam. We crossed the ship locks, which our boat had passed through in the wee hours of the morning.
The boats heading upstream:
The boats (up to six at a time) heading downstream:
We had to leave the bus to go through security, before reboarding to drive up to Platform 184, at the level of the top of the dam.
The Three Gorges Dam as seen from Platform 184:
Construction began in 1993, and except for the ship lift, it was completed in 2009.
The ship lift construction:
The dam has 32 turbines to make it the world'slargest capacity hydroelectric power station:
Brynne and Kent:
Brynne and Tamiko:
Brynne, Tamiko and Kent:
Courtesy of Lisa & Graham
The Museum model of the Three Gorges Dam project:
The dam:
The ship locks:
There are a twin series of five locks, each one about 20m/66' deep. Because the upper river is presently at a lower water level, we only had to use four of the locks, but the process still took over 3 hours.
We climbed to the observation point on Tanzi Ling/Jar Hill for a view to the SW of the dam:
A view to the NW of the ship locks:
View of the cut-through of the mountain to build the locks:
View to the NE of the ship locks:
The Jar Hill observation platform is behind the fountain:
The granite cornerstone:
Back to the boat to cruise through the third gorge - Xiling Gorge. Since the dam raised water levels in the upper Changjiang/Yangtze River up to 175m/574', the look of the first two gorges is obviously not as deep or narrow as it was naturally. Traveling along the river used to be a treacherous journey. Since the dam, many cities and cultural sites have been submerged, and 1.3 million people were relocated. There has been loss of farm land, but young people welcomed the chance to be relocated to the big cities.
The lower Xiling Gorge did not experience higher water levels, so it is more as it always was:
Tall peaks:
Same towns:
Same farms:
But, a new highway!
Rainbow Bridge:
Scenic resorts built in old style:
Ancient plank roads?
Mountaintop pavilions:
Aerial cable cars:
A fortified town that held off Japanese agression?
No high level water marks:
But there are still mudslides:
Homogenous towns:
Smaller mountains:
Leaving the Three Gorges:
After disembarking, our China Highlights transfer guide Fay took us to our van which we shared with Lisa & Graham, a young couple who have lived in China for 5 years and have done some amazing traveling. This time the guide was going to charge extra for sightseeing detours, so we declined. Even though it was early, we would go straight to the airport. Yes, it was a tiny, boring airport!
Airport souvenir shop:
Brynne knows the Su family, ha, ha!
Flew back to Shanghai, and home. The end.

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