Asia 2005 - Yhangzi / 3 gorges

Hi guys, sorry about the lack of updates.. I've been on the road a lot since my last update and haven't been able to post an entry about the time I've spent over the last few days (or even shower... eww)

At some point I'll back track and say a little about Guilin and the outlying areas (where I was before now) - but for now I'm just going to talk about the 3 gorges where I've spent the last 3 days.

We arrived at the boat after a 2 hour bus ride from Guangzhou and a look at the 3 gorges damn project (which is an impressive structure, which once complete in 2009 will generate enough electricity for about 120 million people) to freezing cold weather and a quickly setting sun - at which point we climbed aboard the Chinese cruise ship that intrepid had arranged.. this is the kinda ship you might take your mistress away to if you wanted a "dirty" weekend in China..  It's a tub made of very rusty plate steel, 3 decks, water that was generally always near freezing, spittoons in all the hallways that defy description and in my "first class" cabin I shared with a fellow traveller there was stained sheets and the most foul smell... it was pretty funny :P - I was really greatfull to have brought my own sheet and pillowcase!

So we set off, and went through a couple of locks in the dark - only about 30 odd metres each.. the boat is chaotic, as it's not designed for western tourists but the Chinese tourists.  All well 'n good, the temperature seemed to keep dropping all night.

So we wake on the second day to see snow falling all over the first of the 3 gorges - the scenery is breath taking, apparently this is the first time anyone has seen it snow here - so it felt pretty special (though bloody cold, I've never heard Desmond (the english guy I share a room with) say "Jesus Wept!" so many times... very funny.. I hope the pictures I took convey just how amazing it looked.

The proposed height marks for the water (about 175 metres above sea level) on the hillsides everywhere just makes you realise how much housing and farm land will disappear when the project comes on line - nothing in China is a on a small scale (accept for farming, but that must eventually change with the shift of the population towards the cities) and this project is a wonderful example of the chinese people exerting there will against nature (the projects main motivation is to stop the devastating 10 year floods which cost billions in damages in lost lives). They're all very proud.

We ended getting on the turps and having a bit of a card playing and drinking sessions that night, and I had my first experience with Chinese spirits... god almighty they're awful, the one I had was "like" vodka, but made from sorgam and around 45% alcohol.. when drunken with "future cola" the coke equivalent in china, that's miles cheaper, it was a lethal combination...

And so I awoke today feel surprisingly good for all my drinking, the boat steemed back down the gorges and we've arrived back on land - tonight we're staying put then early tomorrow we begin to move towards the coast again, with the destination (eventually) being shanghai... it should be all fun, though I'm feeling pretty whacked.

Written on March 13, 2005