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Published on March 19, 2008

Author: Saverio

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China 2000 Photos by Lisa Middleton Text by Pat Middleton:  China 2000 Photos by Lisa Middleton Text by Pat Middleton River Life Cruising on “The President” Favorite Sites to Visit Send E-mail In April/May 2000 we were invited to participate in a FAM tour of China and the Yangtze River Valley. It was an opportunity to see another of world’s great rivers… and an opportunity to see the storied Three Gorges scenic area before the construction of the world’s largest dam. River Life:  River Life We boarded “The President” at Wuhan. The Yangtze flood plain was flat as a board and mostly treeless. In flood, the Yangtze might rise 65’ above normal and flood millions of acres of agricultural land. Here several hundred workers unload and lay levee stones. The little “boat” with a white triangle up front is a channel marker. Barges carried stones, grains, and other products. “Locking Through”:  “Locking Through” Locking through at the Gezhouba dam site was identical to going through the Keokuk Lock on the Mississippi. It took our boat from the flat flood plain into the scenic Three Gorges area. The new Three Gorges Dam will raise water levels in the Gorge area by as much as 175 meters. Cruising Three Gorges:  Cruising Three Gorges The Three Gorges area was truly beautiful! Look closely. Limestone bluffs were terraced and farmed wherever a little soil accumulated. Crops included corn, strawberries, onions, etc. Tight Fit! :  Tight Fit! Our boat is inching its way through the Three Gorges. In spots like this, Navigation Houses direct the single channel of traffic. A white arrow indicates whether the channel is open to upstream or downstream boats. Consider that this is the sun-deck..or 6th level... of our cruise boat! The limestone bluffs on the upper river are about 1000’ high. Tighter Still!:  Tighter Still! Our day trip into the Lesser Gorges was a highlight of the gorges area. We followed the Shennong Stream into narrow, scenic gorges. Construction of the three gorges dam will raise the water level several hundred feet up the bluffs. Our boats were hauled upstream by “trackers.” Tracker:  Tracker Traditionally, trackers pulled the steamboats up the Yangtze River… nearly 90 trackers per boat. We had four trackers per boat pull us up the Shennong stream in local metal sampans. Trackers were rural farmers who would return to finish harvesting their wheat or planting their corn. Boarding the Sampans on Shennong Stream:  Boarding the Sampans on Shennong Stream Our travel mates came in all shapes and ages. Our safety was carefully supervised throughout the trip. “You westerners are expensive,” our guide explained. Rural Peddlers:  Rural Peddlers Even in the middle of the wilderness gorges there were peddlers! We call this photo “peeping baby.” It is a favorite! Young Rural Girl:  Young Rural Girl This little girl was all decked out for her day with the tourists. “One dolla,” the children would call out. Along the Shennong stream, kids offered rocks from the stream! Shrouded in mystery.:  Shrouded in mystery. Near Chongqing, west central China:  Near Chongqing, west central China Ferry boats transported Chinese between villages. Here the wheat fields are ready for harvesting and winnowing by hand. “The President” :  “The President” “The President,” owned by the government-owned Chinese Travel Agency offers Westerners all the comforts of home. Rooms were clean and comfortable. Public areas were in the grand style of cruising steamboats. Cruising on “The President”:  Cruising on “The President” Hand-painted Kites with the sun shining through the rice paper in the ship store. Travel Mates:  Travel Mates Our small tour group included travelers from 20 to 86 years of age. Meals were generally delicious, but we did eat Chinese every meal. Breakfasts always included delicious eggs & bacon. Land Tours:  Land Tours Lisa and the Watchtower Bell at Xi’an city wall. Panda Zoo in Chongqing :  Panda Zoo in Chongqing Nearly 80% of all Pandas come from Chongqing Province. This Panda plays with the door separating the male & female pandas. Terra Cotta Warriors:  Terra Cotta Warriors The fantastic burial tombs of the Emperors have just begun to yield a treasure of antiquities. The 2000-year old Terra Cotta Warriors of Xi’an are being reconstruction piece by piece…all 6,000 of them! Each is uniquely individual and form and entire Imperial army. We also saw an entire orchestra of ancient instruments, jewels, and artifacts. Comfortable Accommodations!:  Comfortable Accommodations! Land travel was very comfortable. Buses were air-conditioned, food was generally very good and very safe (stick with the cooked food!). All hotels provided boiled water for drinking. We found a glass of beer was free with every lunch and dinner. Certainly it is wise to choose hotels and restaurants that cater to Westerners!! No Pampers Here!:  No Pampers Here! A toddler wears the “bottomless” pants that were common among little children. The Great Wall near Beijing:  The Great Wall near Beijing Or is it Disney Land? Chinese tourists crowded the attractions during the May Day week holiday … the FIRST ever national 7-day holiday! Cleaning Eels at Market :  Cleaning Eels at Market The street market in Chongqing was fascinating. Live poultry, every kind of fish and seafood, vegetables. These women are cleaning EELS. Beautiful Babies!:  Beautiful Babies! The single child mandate is most closely monitored within the cities and among the largest ethnic groups. While urban Chinese are keenly aware that overpopulation is a huge problem, the rural families still rely on children to help support the family. Chinese Acrobats:  Chinese Acrobats The contortionist has been practicing her craft since the age of two or three. According to our guide, there are records of Itinerant Acrobats 2000 to 3,000 years ago. Cloisonne Factory :  Cloisonne Factory We marveled at the meticulous handwork that was involved in place the tiny copper designs and then filling them with enamel for firing and polishing. A vase like this could take years to finish and was priced at $45,000. That’s All, River Travelers! :  That’s All, River Travelers! To plan YOUR trip to China, we recommend World Value Tours, the sponsor of our trip. Web: vwtours.com Email: info@vwtours.com or call 1-714-556-8258 Value World has an extensive line of river tours around the world!!

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