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.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three Gorges Cruise Part II (7/24/2011)

Sunday, July 24, 2011
Today was a cloudy day. I give these weather reports to excuse the grayness in the photos!
We were docked at Fengjie, to allow some people to pay extra to see another temple at Baidicheng/White Emperor City. These folks at least had an escalator (under shady roof covering) halfway up the hill:
The gate to Fengjie:
Baidicheng was founded by a soldier who made his headquarters here. One day he saw a white vapor in the shape of a dragon rising from a well. He took this to mean that he should declare himself the White Emperor and he renamed the city.
Some commerce below our balcony:
Later we passed Baidicheng on the island that was previously a hill until the water level of the river rose after the dam was built:
Entering the first of the three gorges - Qutang Gorge:
The narrow gap is called Kui Men/Gate:
The mountain on the south bank is called White Salt Mountain.
A fortification on the north bank:
A road?
And the mountain on the north bank is called Red Armor Mountain:
On the south bank, calligraphers have written on the Chalk Wall:
Towering cliffs:
Bellows Gorge:
Supposedly there are coffins in the vertical gaps.
Pointy peaks:
The lone resident of the Qutang Gorge:
Folded rocks:
Brynne and Kent in Qutang Gorge:
Uplifted landforms:
Mountain after mountain:
Time for lunch in the boat's dining room:
Now we are entering the second gorge - Wu Gorge:
Much taller mountains:
Lion Peak:
Trust me, at one point that bump on the mountain did look like a lion roaring into the sky!
Looking for the Goddess Peak (in the rain):
Goddess Peak is the wee little finger of rock to the right of the craggy peaks:
Okay, this time my research said that Goddess Peak is the highest of the Twelve Peaks and is the first to catch the rising sun. However, our river guides made a point of saying the little finger of rock is Goddess Peak, because it looks like a woman turned to stone. At the same time they tell of the legend of the boatman's wife who climbed the mountain every day to look for her missing husband, until she turned to stone. My research also came across that story, but it seemed to be separate from Goddess Peak. With that in mind, take everything I write here with a grain of salt!
Narrow valley:
Some of the Twelve Peaks:
There is a legend of Yao Ji, a fairy in heaven, who convinced her eleven sisters to visit earth. They encountered a man trying to control the flooding, and Yao Ji decided to give him a special book on the control of water. But she and her sisters were arrested and chained by soldiers from heaven. The man broke the chains, and together they stopped the flooding. The sisters stayed to help the local people and became the Twelve Peaks.
The barge traveling upstream stays closer to the bank so as not to fight the swifter current in the middle of the river:
Coal mines along a tributary river:
The water level mark:
Normally the level of the river would be at the top of the cleared area on the bank. But now is the season to prepare for the floods by lowering the river's water level by 30m/98'.
Uh, oh, it's pouring rain now!
Later we approached the city of Badong at the end of Wu Gorge.
Another river cruise ship passes us:
A world-class bridge:
Our cruise ship docked, and the passengers transferred to a ferry boat for our excursion up Shennong Stream:
Entering the Shennong Stream gorge:
While the water of Changjiang/Yangtzre River has been muddy brown, the Shennong Stream water is green:
The stream is labeled:
Here we will go through three mini-gorges. First Longchuan Gorge.
Look closely for the hanging coffin (a couple boards) about 2/3 down in the narrow gap:
The Ba people believed in burying their dead as close to heaven as possible, but it is still a mystery how they got the coffins up there in these gaps.
Someone took a bite out of this cliff:
Elephant Peak:
I believe we are facing the elephant head-on.
Getting narrow ahead:
I think we are in Parrot Gorge now.
An optical illusion:
Uplifted rocks:
A local farmer who did not have to be relocated:
Swallow Cliff?
Now we are in Bamboo Gorge.
There is yellow bamboo growing here:
Limestone stalactites:
Peapod boat aground:
Jerked into the 21st century:
They are building a superhighway from Yichang to Chongqing.
The stream is getting shallower:
The peapod boats of the Shennong Stream trackers/trekkers:
Here we transfer to the trekker boats to experience ancient river transportation:
Mass transportation?
A local Tujia abode:
A local Tujia trestle bridge:
Brynne is blue!
The narrowest section:
A waterfall:
Three rowers at the front of the boat:
One rower and the tilllerman at the back:
Site of an ancient market:
A local:
Two of the rowers climb the bank to show us how they once pulled the boats upstream:
The effect is lost because 1) the water level is too low today, and 2) before the dam the water level was much lower, and the trekkers really were pulling you up through the rapids of a stream.
Hoa jia/friend:
Clear water:
Boats being pulled upstream:
Greeted by music:
The Tujia people love to dance and sing, and in exchange for having our guide sing us a Tujia song, she made us sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
It's a race:
Unnamed stalactite:
The narrow part again:
This white stalactite is called the Viper:
Swallow's Cave:
Ths sun has come out!
That's the ferry that took us up the Shennong Stream:
Back in the river cruise boat, we continued down the Changjiang.
Passed coal storage and off-loading docks:
New bridge, old pavilions:
That evening we had a Talent Show of the passengers, with only two volunteering. A young Indian boy did a fun rendition of Michael Jackson. So the crew had to do a few more dances, including the "Trekker Dance:"
Now, originally the trekkers worked naked, because wet clothes chafed. (New fabrics alleviate that problem!)