MAY 16-18, 2007

    The trip down the Yangtze River was a mixed bag.  I was impressed with the major role the river plays as a transportation route, both commercial and for travelers.  (Interestingly enough, no personal pleasure water craft was seen on the river.)  The river is highly polluted and it serves as a carrier of vast amounts of coal- which contributes to extensive air pollution.  As you will see from some of the pictures, there are numerous coal barges plying the river and coal bins/depots located on the river banks.

    An early stop was at the city of Fengdu, the ancient "Ghost City".  This site is complete with various statuary representations of hell.

    The scenery on the river was quite unremarkable.  There were some cities which had been moved across the banks in readiness of the filling of the Three Gorges Dam, which will raise the level of the water by some 330 feet.  The "three gorges" refers to the sequence of three gorges through which the river flows just prior to the dam.  The first upstream gorge is the narrowest with rapidly flowing water and the longest.

    What was remarkable, and you will see in the pictures, was a trip on a side gorge, the Xiang Gorge located just upstream from the Dam.  We traveled on a smaller boat up that gorge to a point where we transferred to a "row boat", a boat which seated about 15 passengers and was powered by men who rowed/ used poles to move the boat.  The reflections of the river banks by the water were simply amazing, and intricate pieces of art, as you will see.  Also, along the river, are found some hanging coffins, coffins which in olden times were placed on the vertical faces of the gorge so as to be safe from vandals.

    The Three Gorges Dam, itself, was very impressive to this viewer.  A mammoth structure, which, by the way, led to a shortage of cement worldwide while the dam was being poured.  Its completion is scheduled for 2009 and will output 18,000 megawatts (The Grand Coulee, the largest US dam, outputs 6,500 MW.)  At least 1.3 million people and 1200 towns and villages have been moved to higher ground.  This has resulted in the loss of valuable farming land and livelihoods.  The stated primary purpose of the dam is to control the perennial ravaging flooding of the Yangtze, the secondary purpose is that of generating electricity.  The dam has two lock systems, one for commercial traffic and the other for smaller boats such as fishing craft.  Read a very interesting NY Times article about ecological problems re The Three Gorges Dam.

    Some of the last photos were taken from our moving bus as we motored to Wuhan.

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