The four night, three day trip was wonderful. 

On board there were a Wendy Wu tour group of 42 Australians and a few English tourists as well as many Chinese tourists and about 10 Americans. Wendy Wu herself, her family and her board members were also on board and were very friendly.

The older American slideshowcruise director who lived in the Phillipines was very efficient and the rest of the staff who were Chinese were very professional and friendly at the same time.

The crew kept telling us that we were so lucky as the weather was perfect and we had blue skies and not much river mist or pollution around the interesting sites which is somewhat uncommon according to them. The scenery for much of the trip was beautiful with lush crops growing up the mountainsides and sheer cliffs and it was wonderful to watch the busy river traffic of everything from small fishing boats to large barges carrying Western Australian Iron Ore and large cargo vessels. There was some pollution around the chemical factories but there was in the main a lot of lush green vegetation and trees in between.

There were also a lot of pylons for rail and bridges being constructed along the way.

The first day we visited the Three tribes gorge which was beautiful. We could have done without the locals who make a lot of noise and do a re-enactment of days gone by but the Chinese tourists who also could understand what was being shouted enjoyed it. We would have preferred to just enjoy the scenery in peace. Many, many mainly Chinese tour groups went before and after us with tour leaders with microphones and load voices.

The second day we were taken to see the Three Gorges Dam which was spectacular and an incredibly large project which was completed in 2009.. It was very hot and humid. Near dusk an into the night we went through the five locks to go further upstream which was an amazing experience. It only took 8 minutes to fill the lock and move along to the next one.

The Chinese are also building a boat lift which will lift boats up to 3tonnes up and over the dam wall. The scale of the project is unbelievable.

We travelled the second day through the second gorge and we had a trip on small sampans down through the lesser three gorges which consisted of some sheer cliffs and narrower water ways which were also beautiful. We were shown the location of some “hanging coffins” from centuries ago which had been somehow suspended and placed inside the caves or along the cliff walls. You could see some remains of the coffins in a couple of places.

The local guides showed us where their old villages had been and where they were now relocated to further up the mountainsides. It is amazing to see the large cities and towns that have been built in the space of 10-15years. Upstream we were also shown various islands which are really tops of mountains that are totally covered by water after the winter season.

We also did a couple of optional outings to temples and pagodas which involved many hundreds of steps. This helped work off the three meals a day that we had on the boat.

The food was excellent and we had a good choice of western and Chinese food. The Chinese do eat all combinations of food together. A piece of banana followed by some noodles followed by some creme caramel followed by some fish. It doesn’t seem to bother them to eat sweet and savoury at the same time.

The accommodation was extremely comfortable and all rooms had a balcony where you could sit and enjoy the scenery or alternatively there was a rooftop area and other areas from which to see the views up and down the river.

I went to an afternoon lesson of Mahjong which I really enjoyed and would like to pursue when we are in our fixed abode again. We were also shown an automatic Mahjong table which at a push of a button delivers all the tiles neatly up onto the table and the pieces have a magnetic strip inside them and are automatically shuffled below the table – an incredible invention which allows people to lose or make money in a faster fashion.

We met some lovely people on board – Roz and Margaret from Sydney and a mad Irish midwife from Geraldton who had her obligatory two bottles of red wine a night and the English director for Wendy Wu tours who we will look up in London when we get there. Everybody was very friendly and most people made an effort to chat to other passengers which made for a nice atmosphere.

In China as in India, Maurice is always easy to spot with his white hair as 99% of the older men dye their hair black (and most of the women too) but on the cruise there were quite a lot of silver/white haired men. I with a bit of a hangover and a head cold came up behind Maurice at the breakfast buffet and put my arm around his waist to see what he was taking only it wasn’t Maurice but an Englishman called Stan. He said something to the effect of “have a good day too” but I was so embarrassed that I disappeared quickly!

We were sorry to leave the cruise in Chongqing on the 5th day. We had been lucky with the previous days’ weather and it was raining as we left the boat to a very scratchy small brass band who started up every time someone stepped on the gangplank to leave the ship. It was like something out of a movie.

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