Cruising on the Yangtze

Visited the cliff carvings in Dazu before moving onto our cruise:

The museum in Chongquing displaying the water levels before and after the dam:.

While it is weird that we are channeled to all places by the local agent and cannot go where we want to go, in fact, it would be extremely hard to be an independent traveler here if you do not speak Chinese. It is impossible to read street names, receptionists do not speak English in any hotels, no matter how touristy they are, and people do not understand words like "taxi", "metro" or "internet". Neither town names - even if you know them in Chinese, one must know exactly the intonation as well. Mao is not only their ex-political leader, but Mao also means cat and two other things - depending on the intonation.

Hotpot dinner before boarding the ship:

We had a 2 day cruise on the Yangtze on a ship called Victoria 3. It was the first time I ever cruised on a boat which had chandelier and where you have to dress up for dinner - although it was interesting, but thanks, no more. We had great weather, sunny and warm, but I was surprised to see that the sky remains grey even in bright sun - due to the mixture of constant pollution and mist. We cruised 200 km, including the area called Three Gorges and ended the trip at the world's future largest dam this morning. The river is flooded in three stages - they started it in 2003 (that's when I wanted to come, but had to cancel it due to SARS outbreak), now, during the second stage the water level is raised from 135 to 156 cm (starting yesterday, it will take a month) and the last increase, from 156 to 175 cm will happen in 2009. So we came just in time to see the gorges in their beauty - they will be much less spectacular in a month time, not to mention after 2009. Due to the construction of the dam, the government replaces around 2 million people, whose homes will get under water. We saw thousands of new huge housing blocks - they all look quite awful. In general, cities with 3-5-10 million people just pop up like mushrooms - it is absolutely amazing to see the amount of development and constructions going on. People in this area take a great pride of the dam, the local guides talked with great enthusiasm about it. It seemed to me, though, they just cite a memorized text, because when we asked questions, they did not understand us.

Although I paid single room supplement, I had to share my cabin on the boat with another girl as they had not enough room. Unfortunately I was paired with the woman who constantly bitches about everything (as she is the only other single female traveler on tour). It is amazing that she finds a reason to complain about something every day. These people should just stay at home. I am not a good audience for her as I am just not willing to ruin my day by listening to her stupid monologs - when she starts to complain about our tour-leader, the food or anything else, I just put on the Robbie disc with full volume to my mini-disc player, full stop. Once she got upset that we had a free evening and no group meal was organized (we were in a small place with one main street full of restaurants having English menus), but few days later she complained that we have to eat in an organized dinner and are fed with westernized Chinese food so she cannot try cat, dog and rat. These people could drive me mad - if I allowed them. I am not particularly fond of anyone in the group, but there is a quite nice family of four - a woman in her mid 50s with 3 children (a girl and two guys) - if I want to socialize, I usually spend my time with them, playing Scrabble or just chat.

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