The Yangtze River Cruise

We started off a bit peeved. It was 10:30pm when our train arrived in Yi Chang.  We had a 25-minute ride to the ship, then our guide forced us to pay about $15 dollars to have our bags walked from taxi to ship (above 200 ft), and then we found out our tour agency booked Elise in a shared room with a stranger.  Thankfully, the manager of the Victoria solved our problem and gave Elise her own room. 


Our boat was a river cruiser 5-star, though we came to realize that there is a 5-star-plus so so much for the basic star system.  There were approximately 120 crew members and 160 passengers aboard our ship.  The crew not only served as our servers/maids/hostesses, but they were also our nightly entertainment transforming into dancers, musicians, and magicians.  By day they would bring hot water to our room and ask, “Can I clean your room?” though the room had already been cleaned by them earlier in the day.  They remembered what drinks we drank and what rooms we were in.  Top notch. By night they were artists.  Dressed in decorative costumes, though mainly providing an un-enthusiastic performance.  We had a wedding ceremony on night two aboard and were later informed that it was the 306th marriage between the bride and groom. 


It ship was relatively small and we all got to know each other very well.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were spent with the same tourists, as we had assigned seating.  Our table included 8 other passengers, all retired FL seniors traveling on a 22-day long excursion across the country.  There was Dick and “Scowler” who previously owned a Dairy Queen, the retired windows salesman who called all ship employees by first name and told us long drawn out stories, the Munsters’ grandpa and Joy who bought expensive souvenirs at each of the factories, their tour guide, and us.  Other notable passengers aboard the ship weres the Indian group with their whining baby, and the Germans with their creepy little twin girls who ran laps around the ship and beat up the Chinese boys.  Vince finally stopped the girls by yelling at them to “halt!” and then building a blockade of plastic chairs.  Most passengers were older, on Chinese holiday, but we did meet two younger aged friends named Clarissa and Dixon.  Together we watched kite flying, ate tea and biscuits, took self-timer photos, and pretty much enjoyed discussing Chinese culture.


We visited the Three Gorges Dam Project.  The project is to build a dam that upon completion will be the largest water conservation dam “ever undertaken by human being.”  The dam is set to be 2,335m long, 185m high, 18m wide.  It will raise the river over 55m from its current level.  I’ve never been much impressed with dams, but I am astonished by a few other dam figures. Due to this dam over 570,000 acres of farmland, and 19 counties of villages will be flooded, dislocated over 1.5 million people.  The purpose of the dam is for flood control, electricity, and navigation.  The opinions from the locals are mixed. While the younger generation is allegedly “happy” to be moved into new apartment high rises, the older generation is “sad” at losing their home and way of life.  In an effort for the government to provide housing to these dislocated people they have created relocation “cities” where hundreds of thousands are moved into buildings- though industries and jobs are not created to support these communities. Men must travel (and part time live) far to make money, and as an effect the divorce rates are increasing because they’re finding mistresses in the cities. To survive women doing what they can. One local woman raises pigs in her basement because she does not have any land to keep them on and must make money somehow.  From the river we passed many villages that will soon be underwater once the dam is complete. The river is lined with waterline flags marking what will soon be gone.  I can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose land that your family has lived on for generations. These people have very little choice in where they are located to, and often are not placed near extended families.  It was very sad and moving to see (no pun intended).  I hope it’s worth it.


Everyday we took morning excursions after breakfast.  One morning we took a smaller boat through the gorge.  Caliche and I both climbed out the window and fell causing matching deep purple bruises.  Buffet lunch at noon with the 65+ crew, followed by lectures, Internet, in the afternoon, and tea & biscuits at four.  Nap or reading on the rooftop until dinner, which started promptly at 7pm.  Evenings were spent catching up with my sister.  The days were relaxed, though Vince got seasick and spent the last day nauseous.  Still, we were all sad to leave the lazy lifestyle of the Yangtze.  The people, the views, the schedule; it was truly a memorable experience not to be forgotten.


~ by The Piersas on October 15, 2008.

One Response to “The Yangtze River Cruise”

  1. I just watched a documentary on the Yangtze River explaining exactly what you talked about. They even showed one of the riverboats. They followed a young woman who just got a job on a riverboat. They also followed an old couple that were moved from there home along the river into a highrise. Their original home was terrible. Their new home was terrible.

    How’s the chop suey there?

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