6 September 2009

Yangtze cruise

A cruise up the Yangtze was more or less in the middle of our three weeks in China and provided a welcome respite from the hectic schedule onshore.

We had trips on each of the three days but I will cover those separately, this blog is just about the cruise.

We flew from Xi'an to Wuhan and then took a long coach ride to Yichang where we caught the boat that was to be our home for the next three days and four nights as we cruised up the river to Chongqin.

This first picture sums up the cruising as we spent most of the time cruising past cloudy hills, including the Three Gorges themselves.

The three days were broadly the same; breakfast on the boat, trip on shore to see something interesting, back to the boat for lunch then the rest of the day relaxing as the boat cruised along to our next destination.


We shared the river with many other boats, including a lot of commercial vehicles taking advantage of the easiest route into central China.

This ferry crammed full of lorries was typical of our fellow travellers.

We also saw several boats carrying coal and managed to catch the loading operation in action at one point.

The coal is brought near to the edge of the river by lorry and is held there in large storage bays. When the boats arrive they are filled using long hoses.

This creates a lot of coal dust around the boats and the inaccurate filling technique also pour some of the coal into the water leaving a black streak on the surface of the water as if some particularly nasty snail had just slithered over it.


For most of the journey all we could see on the shore were hills too steep to support anything more than a few huts in one place. One exception to this relentless greenery was the bridges.

And there were lots of bridges of all shapes and sizes.

I chose this picture because I like the shape made by the cables but I loved many of the other bridges too and I ran outside to one of the observation decks whenever we passed under one.

Each bridge warranted at least three photos (before, under and after) so I now have lots of photos of Chinese bridges, which is a good thing.


As we got towards the end of the cruise the steep hills gave way to more gentle slopes and these allowed bigger towns to creep towards the river's edge. They were all nameless and all looked much the same.

Despite being some days from the Three Gorges the impact of the dam is still obvious and the towns were well above the Summer water level in preparation for the higher waters to come.

These higher waters had marooned some very large boats on the side of the hills to create graveyards of rust that would slip naturally into a J G Ballard novel.

Some of the towns, like this one, had counterbalancing railways down to the river's edge.

The cruise provided many interesting sights over the three days but these were often some hours apart and were usually shrouded in haze so we often resorted to the standard holiday pastimes of playing cards and finding excuses not to write postcards. But the rest was welcome and the trips ashore were good and so, overall the Yangtze cruise was a good section of the holiday.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! That river traffic reminds me of the Rhine. In Düsseldorf you can sit with a beer at ringside and see all the various cargoes go past. These days it is often containers stacked on top of each other, and I sometimes wonder how they can remain in position without accidents.

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