32. 3 Gorges

Hi everyone, sorry I have been a little busy lately, but here is the next installment of my trip with the parents!!

Halfway through the week I decided that my parents might like to partake in a relaxing mosey down the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges towards some dam that was built in the 1980s.
Taking a cruise down the river is very much available to all budgets, with varying timescales as well. The ‘tourist class’ option that we took was high end and, in truth, slightly above what we wanted… On the other hand, it seems that some of the low end options can be a bit grim. It certainly made me uncomfortable  for the trip being called ‘Sir’ by everyone! The balcony was lovely, though!

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Nevertheless, a 4 day cruise passing through the Gorges along with several other stop offs was on the cards.

Instead of ruining it with my tedious prose, I’ll hand over to the camera and interject when I feel the time is right.

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The White Emperor City holds a firm place in Chinese history, so the opportunity to pass up going there was too tempting. It sits on an island overlooking the gate to the first of the gorges, the Wu Gorge, and once provided a seat for Emperors of the Shu Dynasty. Our guide expertly helped to explain that the city was so-called because of a) who lived there and b) the colour of the walls. Personally, I tip her to go on and do big things.

The area is so beautiful that poets and writers came to visit and stay in the area, as well as being graced by politicians of the calibre of Mr Mao. In fact, one of China’s most beloved poets decided to live there for a year. His poetry can still be seen in inscriptions on the central Pagoda and the walls surrounding the palace.

Across from the White Emperor City begins the Wu Gorge, its secrets being increasingly carelessly guarded by the widening Kui Gate (Kway). Before the Three Gorges Dam project, the gate was a mere 8m wide, spanning to over 150 nowadays. It holds such importance that it has even gained a prestigious place on the 10 Yuan note, so my holiday snaps look something like this!

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The afternoon saw us sailing through the gorges, letting the scenery take over from the history teacher. At points, it’s possible to see coffins nestling on caves, dug out of the cliffs. It’s assumed that they were of rich noblemen or kings, due to the scale of the operation, and from the few that have been excavated so far, one contained a small fortune in coins and the other the bones of a teenage boy and what appeared to to a sacrificed female. In fact, some were given a double burial, the rather grisly result of which, a pile of bones, are proudly on display in the White Emperors City.

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Whilst the gorges are slowly being touristified to the limit, with the relocated farmers of yesteryear becoming folk singers and boat taxi drivers along the route, appearing to be as well off and compensated as the government likes to present. In fact, the theme of progress and flood protection/ prevention was a keenly pushed point and, whilst it is difficult to prove either way, it seems to hold water (excuse the pun…!). The lesser and mini three gorge are just as spectacular as their mammoth namesakes.

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Last up was the imposing 3 Gorges Dam project, which provides a mind-blowing  amount of electricity for the nation- most hydroelectric plants struggle to power the security guards pocket radio, so it’s really quite a feat. Each of the 5 locks descending the gorges take a cool 45 minutes per, and considering we entered the first at midnight, I can’t claim to have seen the full descent, but the engineering behind the project is a marvel. Having said that, I was slightly disappointed that the boat lift that is currently being constructed wasn’t finished, as that would have been amazing.

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Anyway, history lesson over. Absolutely spectacular and what I see as an absolute must for any visit to China… Have a great week everyone!

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