Day 2 of our cruise down the Yangtze was more about nature than temples. We were serenaded awake by the resupply boats. Loud noises from interesting outboards. Some sort of rough 2 stroke bolted onto a flat plate with fanbelts driving the prop.
Our first stop of the day was at the White Emperor City. It is an ancient temple complex on an island in the Yangtze River, connected to the shore by a bridge. It is said that the area was once surrounded by a white mist making it mysterious but serene. After the death of the current emperor, the local general to claimed he saw a vision of a dragon in the mist (smoke?) which allowed him to claim he was now the emperor. We are finding lots of similarities the Game of Thrones as we learn history.
The Qitang gorge is the ‘gate’ of the Sichuan province. He who controls the gorge controls the province. All trade from the coast passed up and down the river and as a natural choke point it was a great place to collect taxes or defend your turf. And the White Emperor City is a great place to defend or hide out, depending on who you are at the time.
The general turned Emperor was more-or-less a good guy to the locals so this “upgrade” was accepted easily. He ruled for about 12 years (until the “royal family” of the previous emperor decided they should be in power).
The area is famous in Chinese poetry and Du Fu (the poet whose cottage we visited a few days ago) spent 2 years here. This is one of his poems but written by Chairman Mao. It’s a mess because it is said Mao really didn’t understand the poem but couldn’t admit is so he faked it by making it unreadable (looks kind of like Dave’s handwriting).
The three gorges of the Yangtze River are an area where the locals interred their deceased in hanging coffins. They would take a coffin and drag it up a cliff and either bolt it to the cliff face or stuff it in a natural crack/cave. Very expensive to do but sorta common at the time. You can see on the relief in the first photo what it looked like and the other couple are a coffin retrieved and put in the museum. The coffins were usually made out of one piece of tree trunk. It’s lucky to put money in the display for some reason.
We also passed by the local market. Deep fried soft shell crabs, perhaps chicken feet (hard to tell) and lots of dried shrimp and fish. Plus the tourist crap for us.
At the entrance to the Qitang Gorge.
The scenery was quite beautiful and we sat out on deck and watched the world go by.
Later in the afternoon we stopped at the Shennv Stream (Goddess Stream). While the main gorges are beautiful, the Goddess Stream takes it up another level or two.
We transferred to smaller boats to go up the stream.
At the end of the stream we stopped and our guides sang some songs for us. The chinese speaking tourists understood it. We were just entertained.
We had a nice Captain’s Dinner tonight and good conversation with our new friends from South Carolina. If you’re looking to have an adventure but not do the level of research that Kris does, Overseas Adventure Tours (OAT) sounds like a good company. It’s whom they are with and we’ve met their guide. They are all super happy with the trip.
We are about half way though now and both enjoying it immensely but the information fatigue has hit me. Too much information to absorb in a very complex culture. I’d not trade any of it out at all, but sometimes a few down days wouldn’t be so bad either.
Tomorrow morning we disembark, get to ride the new Boat Elevator over the dam and then tour the dam itself. Then we fly to Shanghai tomorrow night.