Tuesday, March 31, 2020

25 Tribe of Three Gorges - " appealing like a painting"

Like a true Greek mama,
always trying to match make

"Appealing like a Painting" no truer words have ever been written..

I would have to say this was my most favourite shore excursion on our Yangtze River Cruise.  Think of Old Sydney Town, with an Asian flavour.

This touristy spot is so picturesque that I nearly wet myself as I turned the corner and entered the site, I didn't know which way to point the camera.  Villages beautifully recreated that immersed you into their primitive life style, historical folk culture and the traditions of the local people who lived along the Yangtze River.  They say it is a perfect mixture of Ba and Chu cultures.

The area is vast and we only got to see a small part of it, but probably the prettiest.  

We were guided by a lovely young girl in traditional dress. She spoke of her clothes and the meaning of the basket she carried on her back.... if it is filled with flowers then you are available for marriage, once you are married, that is where you carry your baby !!

From this first map you can see just how large it is.  

The second map shows the small area were we we spent our time there walking along the Longii Brook.  Along either side of it's banks traditional homes have been reconstructed exactly as they used to be.

No matter where you go, no matter what time of the day... there is always food on a stick

As we entered through the first pavilion we were welcomed by a lone trumpeter. 

 It is then you step out onto a platform with views straight down the Yangtze. Houses and small boats built to form the Village on the Water.  We stood and watched as men in traditional dress pulled ropes and brought the larger boats closer to their moorings

As you followed the path the silence was only broken by  a single flute player standing on a rock or the tunes that emanated from the pavilions.  But best of all were the beautiful songs sung by the girls on boats along the stream.  

Further up the brook you will find the Stream-side tribe.  You can watch the ancient water wheel go round, locals washing and fishing nets at the ready.


Always a photo Opportunity
Getting ready for our play

A highlight of our visit was a reenactment of a typical Tujia Marriage .... more commonly known as the Crying Wedding....

The play was narrated in Chinese and all you can do is watch and assume what is going on.... but now that I am home, I have google and I can tell you the real story .....

For the girls of the Tujia Ethnic Minority, their marriage date is usually welcomed with crying. According to custom, a new bride should begin to cry half a month or one month before their wedding ceremony. Whether a girl can cry about her marriage has become a criterion in the value of the girl's ability and virtue.
In order to be regarded as a good girl, they begin to study how to cry for marriage when they are 12 years old. Some will invite an experienced person to teach them. When the girls reach 15 years of age, they will invite each other to match who cries best and to help teach each other. Some will even discuss methods of crying.
There are songs which are sung when weeping for marriage. These include singing for parents, sisters, brothers, the matchmaker and ancestors. When singing the weeping marriage songs, emotions are fully expressed through the mournful tones. Upon hearing the vivid and strong words of the song, even a stone-hearted man can't fight back his tears. In fact, girls sing these songs before marriage to protest the arranged marriage system under feudalism and express sentimental attachment to their relatives.

Our Narrator

First bride starts crying .... joined by her sisters....
Dad Joins in... I thought he was just sad his little girl was going

The groom arrives and collects his girl

They parade the streets with music, but when will he see her face

Finally married and everyone is smiling ... hey isn't the groom part of our tour group!!

No wedding is complete without a honeymoon

Oh and look..... Dad is smiling again!!!

If doing a Yangtze River Cruise this is one tour that is a must ... I loved it and I can't wait to take Garry there!

Monday, March 30, 2020

24 Three Gorges Ship Lift

So it seems that the 5 level lock system was not enough to sustain the demand, for ships, especially cargo to pass through....

Well what else do you do? Build a lift, and yes you guessed it .... the world most largest ship lift!

So now instead of it taking close to 4 hours as it does with the locks, shipping companies have the option of using this elevator that scoops up a ship, lifts it up over 40 stories and plonks it on the other side of the dam.

Previously a cruise like our would actually start from the lower section of the Yangtze and the ship would travel through the locks to continue it's journey.

In 2018 the government put a temporary ban on all passenger ships from using the lock system.  Now the ships leave from the top section.  This was why our ship actually overnighted in Yichang.

For the second part of our tour we boarded a ferry which took us along the lower Yangtze, up the lift and returned us to the Yangtze Gold 6.

Being well trained by Garry I headed straight to the pointy bit of the ferry to get the best view.  And there I stayed for the next 2 hours or so .....

Everything takes on a different perspective from water level and it was interesting to see the base of the locks as we cruised pass... we then entered the corridor that would take us to the entrance of the lift..

 It was hitting dusk as we waited for our turn to enter the elevator.  No sooner as a ship glided out of the chamber, our engines roared and we started to make our way in.  Once in we were secured with ropes and then the big swimming pool we were sitting in started to rise elevating us up over 100m.

Maybe the kids were not as excited as I was ...... they made the most of free wi fi

 Dark by the time we reached the top we exited into the large lake and headed straight for where our ship was docked.

23 Three Gorges Dam

So now that we have covered all things about the ship will move on to the trip itself....

Each day of the cruise basically ran to the same format.  Apart from the first morning, on waking  we would find ourselves docked somewhere new. Off to an early breakfast, then met in the theatre as we did for every tour moving forward.

After the morning tour we would return to the ship in time for lunch.  We would then set sail to the next destination,  then meet again in the afternoon for our second tour of the day..

Our package included every tour available, but generally you booked and pay for each of these trips separately.  One thing to remember, if you are not on tour, then you can't leave the ship .... remember this is China! and on saying that, the stops we made were usually close to the location of the shore excursion and there was not much more on offer...

Although we visited the Tribe of Three Gorges first, I am actually going to start with the Dam, only so you get an understanding why the Tribe was created...

Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam is the world's largest power producer and the largest hydroelectric dam.  Basically it was built to control the amount of water that flowed down the Yangtze River.  Severe flooding would constantly occur further downstream and with may villages built along its banks the damage and loss of life was continually high.

Over 1,000 villages were flooded and hundreds of thousands of people where relocated to new townships and cities built on higher ground to enable the construction.

Another reason why the dam was constructed was to generate electricity.  This is sold to many provinces around China. The ability to generate and sell power in this way meant that the dam will eventually pay for itself and start making a profit..

What makes this dam even more interesting is the series of 5 locks that take raise and lower ships to the two sides of the Yangtze.  But wait there is more....  in 2016 a Ship Lift was construction... a vertical lift that will raise or lower a ship in just 40 min as oppose to the 3.5 hours is takes to use the locks.

Just like Hoover, Warragamba and any other dam of significant size, it also became a tourist attraction.

We were driven to our first viewing opportunity to what is known as the Tanziling Ridge.  On entering you first pass through an exhibition hall that gives you information and displays a model about the project.

To make your way up to higher ground there are a series of outdoor escalators.  The scenic area at the top has been beautifully landscaped to include a park, fountains and the Tanziling Ridge it self.  The structure is suppose to look like an upside down jar ( hence the name tanzil, which means jar ).  Climb up the Jar for the best 360 deg view of the dam and the locks.

We were then taken to another platform that would be on the same level as the top of the dam for another perspective.

Tanziling Ridge - looks like and upside down jar ... well!

Another interesting translation

The Locks

Closer view of the locks

Ships waiting for their turn

Everyone wants their photo's taken with the Contiki Kids

Spectacular views... shame about the haze 

Looking down at the Scenic Area and the fountain.

looking back towards the "Jar"


Right time of year for the beautiful Autumn Leaves

Lower View of the locks in action

Ships entering..

One of the more popular Chinese snacks is sesame seed mixed with kind of soft toffee.  Beaten flat, then broken up and sold in packets. YUM

Ok so there is a story behind this - Your mission if you choose to accept!  Contiki 1 (to the left ) paid $5 US for his beer, Contiki 2 said "I want one" walked over and negotiated hers for $4, jokingly we said 'OK Contiki 3, lets see if you can get one for $3" Mission accomplished....  "Well Contiki 4, you know what this means",  I am sure the blonde hair, shorts ( remember that these would be the most photographed legs in currently in China ) and charm would get you one for $2....
You guessed it .... Success!  The lady didn't have a chance LOL

Sunday, March 29, 2020

22 Crew Talent Show on the Yangtze Gold 6

I haven't mentioned that waiters and waitress's in the dining room were just lovely and very keen to please.  Like all crew on a ship, once they know your likes and dislikes, they will fuss and make sure you are happy....  they did a great job, especially as their English was not the best.

On this particular night it was all a buzz and the crew seem to be in hurry to get things done... Eventually through alot of head nodding, amateur sign language and the art of speaking slowly, we deducted that these young men and women were not just employed for their excellent serving capabilities, but their performing attributes.  The penny dropped that this lovely girl who had just cleared my plate was one of the talented dancers that twirled around the dance floor at the Captains reception.

They were all finishing off in the dining room to head to the theatre to perform in the Ships Talent Show... It was the most theatrically rehearsed talent show I have ever seen....

On entering the theatre we were all given these plastic clapping hands so we could show our appreciation after each performance .... it was a lovely way to finish off our cruise!!