Our Three Gorges cruise started at Yichang, travelling from Xiling Gorge just before the Three Gorges Dam.
We entered Xiling Gorge in the early hours of the morning, disembarking for a short bus journey to see a model of the Dam in the exhibition centre before seeing the real thing. The boat entered the first of six locks to travel upstream, passing the last several hours later, and we were on our way to the next two gorges. In between was a rock formation, said by the imaginative to resemble the Great Helmsman taking his ease.
The next morning, we sailed into the Shen Nong Stream. The stream was originally flanked by vertical gorges and known for fast, treacherous currents, but since the Dam was built, the waters have become more tranquil, and the cliffs rise more gently from the higher water level. The Tujia people in the area still travel in small boats pulled by men on the bank in shallow waters, though a sizeable number of these sampans are now used to generate tourist income.
The Wu Gorge is flanked by numerous interesting peaks, such as the Jade Folding Screen, a donkey, and a frog questioning the sky.
Passing under a bridge(confusingly called the Rainbow Bridge), we travelled towards the Qutang Gorge, which entrance, the Kui Gate, graces the back of the 10 RMB note. The original inscriptions on the Chalk Wall(粉壁墙) of the Qutang Gorge have been submerged by the Dam's construction, but the inscriptions along one of the mountains of the Kui Gate were *thoughtfully* redone for the sake of
The best views of the Kui Gate are from atop the White Emperor City (白帝城), a strategic location for 2000 years, subject of a famous Li Bai poem, and popular destination for day-trippers on such boats. Rising waters from the Dam cut off the castle from the mainland, necessitating the construction of a causeway. There were several dioramas of scenes from the city's history, including some immortalized in the Three Kingdoms, but what I found most interesting were the calligraphic plaques of three Chinese leaders in the modern era.
We entered Chongqing after three days of sailing - not quite the 千里江陵一日还 that the poet envisaged, but good time nonetheless.