This continues from the 1st Wuhan PC (as it was gertting a bit large!). Also we see there's been a problem with the Xi'an PC (possibly because of the ' in the name) so we've replacd the PC with another and hopefully this time you can read it - have a belated look.
We docked at Wushan to change to smaller boats for the trip to the Lesser Three Gorges up the Daning River. This was most spectaular and possibly the best part of the 3 Gorges trip - helped considerably by the emergence of the sun. The river narrows and here you can see at close quarters the full extent of the 3 Gorges project as the water rises 175 meters above the original level. You can see roads leading in the water, tips of trees and buildings now breaking the surface and excellent farmland disappearing under water. Buildings and homesteads close to the water will soon be underwater when the maximum level is reached in 2009. It is difficult to appreciate the entire scale of this project in terms of what it is designed to achieve (creating a water supply and prevention of downstream flooding) and whether this will happen. Effluent from Choingqing continues to pour directly into the newly created lake which, if this is not stopped, will make the water useless in years to come. Much of the gorges/valleys are steep sided and you can see higher up the newly built settlements for those displaced by the rising waters - but are blocks of concrete flats on a steep hillside a fair swap for a waterside farmstead with its own land and fishing?
Throughout China and more so as we move further from Beijing, we are treated like items of curiosity. When checking into accommodation, in shops, streets, boats and trains, people stare and often speak to us with - "hello", "hi", "ne hao". Mainly girls go into fits of giggles as we and they struggle to communicate. But we took it in good part although I'm sure others would hate it. Because of this we've been photographed with a number of Chinese whom we've never met before, and on the boat up the Lesser Three Gorges, we were treated to potent rice wine (57%) food and in return photographs for their own albums. Margaret especially appeared to make close friendship with one woman in particular - although this may have been the consequences of the rice wine - we'll never know! Earlier on the boat Margaret made friends with a nice Chinese man (who we nick-named Hi 5) and throughout our journey it was always good to bumped into him throughout of 3 day trip to say ne hao and shake his hand.
Returning to the public ferryboat we sailed into sundown and quickly falling dusk iknto the second of the 3 gorges. It too was spectacular. We decided to forego our final temple trip (we were running late anyway) in favour of a game of cards and few beers with Vic/Jim, Terry and their cabin mate, Tom. This was really enjoyable as we discussed our respective cultures and our views on life generally. Had we been on another or more upmarket cruise we would not have had this opportunity and meeting them certainly enhanced the whole experience. To bed at 1 and another 6am rise to see the 3rd gorge in the early morning light. We were dropped off at the dam and bussed to Yichang where we said our goodbyes to Vic/Jim and Terry - we'll keep in touch. Then by Bus to Wuhan although a 4 hour trip on a hard back seat was not what we needed after a late night.
This is why we've found ourselves in Wuhan and the prospects of an immediate 32 hour 32 train journey did not appeal so hotel for the night before moving onto Yunnan where we need to make some quick decisions about onward travel out of China.
E+M (29 Oct)