Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We visited China - " Yangtze River Cruise "

We went on " Yangtze River cruise "

The Mother River of the Chinese Nation; the Life-blood of China; these colourful descriptions of the Yangtze River are no exaggeration. Over 6,300 kilometres long, the mighty Yangtze is the largest and longest river in China, surpassed only by the Nile of Africa and the Amazon of South America. Born of the melting snows and ice in the Tanggula Mountain chain in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, where it is known as Tongtian He, ‘Travelling-Through-the-Heavens’ River, the torrent flows from West to East through provinces of Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu and the city of Shanghai, finally flowing into the East China Sea. Between the towns of Fengjie (Sichuan Province) and Yichang (Hubei Province) are the magnificent Three Gorges which are regarded as some of the most spectacular scenic attractions in China. (Travel Guide)

Figure 1 - Course of the magnificent river - Yangtze

On Board ‘Princess Sheena’ – 17 Apr 2011

In pursuit of this experience we arrived on board ‘Princess Sheena’ late in the night of 17th April and settled down for the night.

Figure 2 – Princess Sheena

As we entered the ships cabin, we were in for a very pleasant surprise. We were accommodated in Deluxe Cabins – consisting of sitting room, bed room, private bath room and a pantry. Having stayed in cramped spaces all our lives on warships, this was a very welcome change.

Figure 3 - The sitting room

4 - Relaxing in the cabin

The ship cast off around 2300 hrs and shaped course for our first leg of the cruise. We sailed past the city of Wanzhou at night Because of the Three Gorges Reservoir; Wanzhou was inundated partly by the ascended water level. However, the relocated people have made their new home safe and comfortable. Now, Wanzhou ranks as the second largest city in Chongqing Municipality and plays a significant role in terms of economy, policy and culture in this area.

Figure 5 – Wanzhou at night

The Three Gorges Dam (TGD) and associated infrastructure is the largest integrated water project built in the history of the world. The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in the Yiling District of Yichang, in Hubei province, China. The construction of the dam began in 1994. The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest capacity hydroelectric power station with a total generating capacity of 18.2 GW. The dam was completed in 2006.There are now 18 generators in commission and 6 more will get added by 2014. By then the project will be generating 22.5 GW of power,which equals the energy produced by 18 nuclear plants or the burning of 40 million tons of coal.

The Three Gorges Dam stretches more than two kilometres across one of the greatest rivers in the world, the Yangtze, which flows 6300 KM to join the sea near Shanghai.The dam was built in a stretch of the Yangtze known as Three Gorges because of the canyons formed by immense limestone cliffs. These gorges—the Xiling, Wu, and Qutang—offer some of the most scenic landscape anywhere in the world and have long been a destination spot for tourists from around the world.

As well as producing electricity, the dam increases the Yangtze River's shipping capacity, and reduces the potential for floods downstream by providing flood storage space. The Chinese government regards the project as a historic engineering, social and economic success, with the design of state-of-the-art large turbines, and a move toward limiting greenhouse gas emissions. However, the dam flooded archaeological and cultural sites and displaced some 1.3 million people, and is causing significant ecological changes, including an increased risk of landslides. The dam has been a controversial topic both in China and abroad.

The installation of ship locks is intended to increase river shipping from ten million to 100 million tonnes annually, with transportation costs cut by 30 to 37%. Shipping will become safer, since the gorges are notoriously dangerous to navigate. Ships with much deeper draft will be able to navigate 1,500 miles (2,400 km) upstream from Shanghai all the way to burgeoning inland city of Chongqing in the Sichuan Basin. It is expected that shipping to Chongqing will increase fivefold. There are two ship locks installed near the dam

As of June 2008, China relocated 1.24 million residents

On Board ‘Princess Sheena’ – 18 Apr 2011

After a good breakfast we were off to see ‘Fengdu the Ghost city’.

Located on the Ming Mountain on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, Fengdu County is known to most Chinese as the 'Ghost City'. Having nearly two thousand years' history, the Ghost City combines the cultures of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism with the mystique of ghosts. The climb is pretty steep and tiring, but the good weather made it easier.

Figure 6 - Images at the entrance

Figure 7 - Some more

Figure 8 - Well deserved rest

Figure 9 - The Naihe Bridge

Figure 10 - The three bridges

Figure 11 - Stone carving

Figure 12 - The stones represent the male and the female organ. Whoever is able to lift the massive stone will be blessed with immense virility. Ooops it was too heavy for us.

Figure 13 - Temple painting

Figure 14 - Statue of Buddha

Figure 15 - A Shrine

Figure 16 - Rest station

Figure 17 - Catching up

Figure 18 - Dore taking a bit of rest

Figure 19 - Dore scaring the guide with some banking gyan

The Ghost Torturing Pass is the second test before entry into the nether world. It is said that this is the place where the dead report to the Yama (what a coincidence), the King of Hell, for judgment. In front of the structure there are eighteen sculptures depicting ferocious demons. Each of these devils is quite lifelike creating a feeling of true eeriness

Figure 20 - A ghost guarding the entrance

Figure 21 - Yasha ghost

Figure 22 - Bad Boy's Demon. Anybody touching the boy’s bottom ensures their children are well behaved. Jai doing it for the grand children

Figure 23 - Ghost of seduction

Figure 24 - Ghost of lust - Kats its first victim

Figure 25 - Old man ghost

Figure 26 - Demon girl

Figure 27 - Ghosts guarding the entrance

Figure 28 - Drunkard ghost. Those who touch his belly are assured of endless supply of liquor.

Figure 29 - Big Ghost

Figure 30 - Torture chamber

Figure 31 - Queue to enter heaven

Figure 32 – Heaven

Figure 33 - Pagoda as the backdrop

Figure 34 - Pagoda standing tall

Figure 35 - Back to the ship and watching Yangtze

Figure 36 - Strategy session on top deck

Figure 37 - It appears the girls won

Figure 38 - Reconciliation photo

Figure 39 - Relaxing in the ante room

On Board ‘Princess Sheena’ – 19 Apr 2011

Figure 40 - Resettlement City on the way

Figure 41 - A much contended lot

Figure 42 - Approaching the Qutang Gorge

Figure 43 - The sheer vastness is breathtaking

Figure 44 – Posing

Figure 45 - Slightly cloudy day with a few drops of rain once in a way

Figure 46 - A great experience

Figure 47 - The crowd is captivated

Figure 48 - The ship making a steep turn to Starboard

Figure 49 - Leaving the gorge

Figure 50 - View of the mountain range

Figure 51 - My turn to pose

Figure 52 - Back on the ship for dinner. Kats is hardly interested in meal. Notice the chopsticks

On Board ‘Princess Sheena’ – 20 Apr 2011

Figure 53 - A local fisher man makes a quick buck selling fresh shrimp and river fish.

We then disembarked at Wushan and were transferred to a smaller yacht for the visit to the ‘Three little Gorges’ – 1st – Longnem – Dragon, then the 2nd – Ba Wu – Misty and the 3rd – Dicui - Emerald. It is a 33 Km ride on the Daning River a tributary of the great Yangtze, with virgin forests on either side of endless virgin nature. All one has to do is pick up a can of beer, sit back and enjoy.

Figure 54 - Wushan arch bridge - 2008 ft long

Figure 55 - Wanxian Bridge - The Wanxian Bridge is longest existing concrete arch bridge in the world.Its arch is 420 metres and it is 864.12 m in length.

Figure 56 - The full view

Figure 57 - On the way to Dragon Gorge

Figure 58 - On the quarterdeck of the yacht

Figure 59 - With Naveen

Figure 60 - The Dragon

Figure 61 - Another view

Figure 62 - An amazing view

Figure 63 - Misty Gorge

Figure 64 - A deep turn to Starboard

Figure 65 - Closer view

Figure 66 - Notice a glass bottom walk way for visiting an ancient shrine in the mountains

Figure 67 – Close up of Emerald gorge

Figure 68 - An unknown grave near Emerald gorge

Figure 69 – Emerald

Figure 70 – Returning

Figure 71 - A massive landslide on the way back

On Board ‘Princess Sheena’ – 21 Apr 2011

Early in the morning the ship entered a series of locks. A lock is a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. Since the installation of the ship locks, shipping through the Three Gorges become much safer, which changed the fact that the gorges were notoriously dangerous to navigate. Each of the two ship locks is made up of five stages, taking around four hours in total to transit, and has a vessel capacity of 10,000 tons.

Figure 72 - Watching the ship go down

Figure 73 - Another view

Figure 74 – After coming out of the lock. The five stages are clearly visible

As the lock operation took more time than anticipated we had to cancel the visit to the dam, instead we disembarked from ‘Princes Sheena’ and went straight to the city of Yichang. Our 402 miles downstream West to East cruise came to an end. It was an excellent cruise and  all of us were able to rest on board,recoup and be ready for the next leg of our voyage.

Figure 75 - The course of Yangtze from Chongqing to Yichang

We visited Yichang – 21 Apr 2011

Yichang is a located in Hubei province. It is the second largest city in Hubei province after the province capital, Wushan. The Three Gorges Dam is located within its administrative area, in Yiling District. Most of the development is recent and has been achieved in the last 16 years. The city has jumped from a small town to a large modern city due to dam construction. The city has a population of 4.1 million supported by mineral and hydro power industry. The local people love music and embroidery.

Ms Holley received us at the City centre and took us to a very fine restaurant for an excellent Chinese lunch. A stew kind of thing prepared from stalk of Celery and Chicken was really great. This was closely followed by Chicken in Honey and Ginger. Dish made out of Chicken, Peanuts, Red chilli and vegetables like Carrot, Beans and Capsicum is very tasty and appears to be a common item. Their fried beans are very simple and delicate.

Figure 76 - Once again an excellent highway to the city from the port

Figure 77 - Some more

Figure 78 - Community housing

Figure 79 - Entering a tunnel

Figure 80 - One of the many tunnels in the rocky district

Figure 81 - Unbelievably clean and tidy

Figure 82 - Hard to believe and comprehend

Figure 83 - We were not the only ones using the road

Figure 84 - As the river flows

Figure 85 - The city centre

Figure 86 - Section of the city

Figure 87 - Shopping area

Figure 88 - Market area

Figure 89 - Petunias all the way

Figure 90 - Some more

We bid goodbye to Holly and Yichang and started the next leg of our journey.

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