Monday, 14 March 2016

China Part 8......

After a very early breakfast on board, we disembarked our ship for a coach ride to the Three Gorges Dam.  The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, it is the world's largest power station in terms of installed capacity.
As well as producing electricity, the dam is intended to increase the Yangtze River's shipping capacity and reduce 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.  There is no doubt that the dam is a fantastic piece of engineering and there are areas that would appear to be more of a park, quite pleasant in fact.

After visiting the dam we joined our bus again for the journey to the railway station to catch the Bullet Train to Wuhan.  Thetop speed of the train is 186 mil/h (300 km/h) and is planned to be increased to 217 mi/h (350 km/h) in 2016.
Our party of 40 had seats booked together in one carriage, along with all our luggage, which we had to store at either end of the carriage. 
The seats are quite comfortable considering we had a 3 hour journey.   Our tour guide said she would let us know about 10 minutes before we were due in to our station as we needed to be ready to get off.   She suggested we block the exits so no-one could get on before we had got off as we only had a matter of minutes before the doors closed automatically and couldn't be opened manually.   If we didn't get off in time the next stop was Shanghai!   Thankfully we all got off safely and porters took our luggage to the coach, which then took us to lunch - yes another Chinese banquet.

After lunch we were transported to the airport for our flight to Xian.  After an uneventful flight and bus journey we arrived at our hotel about 10.45p.m. that evening and were so tired we ordered room service - not a chinese banquet but a burger and a beer for a change!    Sleep came easily that night.

Please join me for Part 9 when we visit The Terracotta Army -  the main reason I wanted to visit China.

Monday, 7 March 2016

China Part 7......

Whilst heading to our next destination I took advantage of the onboard facilities and enjoyed a fabulous foot massage, before joining MWM to marvel at the scenery as we travelled through the Qu Tang Gorge, the shortest and most majestic of the Three Gorges, it winds five miles from Baidi City in Fengjie County to Daxi Town in Wushan County.

After lunch we sailed through the Wu Gorge,  the second of the Three Gorges of Yangtze River, famous for its elegance. Winding over 25 miles, it starts from the estuary of Daning River (east of Wushan) in the west and ends at Guandukou in Badong, Hubei Province.  Because of the long and deep canyons here, the daily period of sunlight is short which impedes the dispersal of air borne moisture within the gorge and so creates clouds and fog in a variety of fantastic shapes.

We docked mid afternoon to join our next excursion, which was a Sampan cruise through the Wu Gorge to the Goddess Stream, which cannot be reached other than by sampan.
The scenery was magnificent as you will see from these short videos.

Our lovely guide on the Sampan encouraged us to join in the singing on the way back to the ship.

After a lovely day cruising, sightseeing and singing we were ready for a rest in our cabin before the Farewell dinner,  and the following day we would be leaving the ship for our onward journey.

Join me for Part 8 when we visit the 3 Gorges Dam before taking the Bullet Train to Wuhan to catch a flight to X'ian.

Monday, 29 February 2016

China Part 6...

Embarkation of the Century Sky completed we enjoyed a relaxing evening on board, with a super buffet dinner and entertainment.

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast we spent most of the following day relaxing on our balcony and the sun deck as we sailed down the Yangtze,
watching passing traffic
and enjoying the scenery.

Our ship docked in Zhongxian County, famous for the Shibaozhai Pagoda, which means Stone Treasure Fortress, it was first built in Qing Dynasty in 1750

We disembarked to walk around the little market on the way to the Pagoda.

We eventually arrived at the gate to the Pagoda

but as it was a very steep climb to the Pagoda we didn't visit.  We stopped at a local cafe for refreshments before heading back to the ship,  exchanging the time of day with the locals, well those that weren't asleep.

Back on board we relaxed on our veranda watching the comings and goings on the river

before getting ready for the Captain's welcome party before dinner.   After dinner we were treated to some fabulous local entertainment, which included a 'Changing Faces' artist.   This is act quite magical,  it would seem with the wave of a fan in front of the face the face of the artist completely changes makeup!    We weren't allowed to film but I have found a clip of a similar show on You tube if you'd like to watch it.  

The dance group invited a member of audience to join them on stage to take part in the show and a very game man from our group volunteered.  The result was hilarious and amused the Chinese members of the audience as much as it amused us.

After a lovely relaxing day and exciting evening  we retired for the night,  looking forward to sailing through the Wu Gorge the following day.

I hope you will join me for Part 7 of our cruise. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

China Part 5....

After our overnight stay in Chongqing it was time to depart our hotel for a tour of the city, before our onward journey.   Our first stop of the day was a visit to Ciqikou Old Street, which means "Porcelain Port",  an ancient town originally called Longyinzhen and was also known as Little Chongqing. According to an old Chinese proverb: "One flagstone road, and one thousand years' Ciqikou". The name of the town can be traced back to porcelain production during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing Dynasties.   Formerly a busy port located at the lower reaches of the Jialing River, a thousand years after its foundation the town remains a symbol and microcosm of old Chongqing.

 Fascinating old buildings,

thriving businesses,

interesting entrances and carvings.

We found a lovely modernised coffee shop up a hidden flight of stairs where we enjoyed some refreshment.

It had a veranda at the front overlooking the street

and one at the back overlooking their back terrace.
Our next stop was lunch, yes you've guessed it another Chinese banquet, then a full city tour where our first destination was People's Square

with the magnificent Great Hall of the People, which is a large hall for political meetings and cultural events.
On the opposite side of People's Square stands the Three Gorges Museum

 with it's magnificent entrance hall.
Displays include painting, calligraphy, porcelain, coins, sculpture and cultural objects.

From the museum we joined our coach again to visit the Huguang Guildhall.
The Huguang Guild Hall is an old complex of buildings that was a cultural, business and social center for more than 200 years. When people came from other provinces to settle in the region during the Qing Dynasty, they built guild halls. The Huguang Hall was built for people from Hubei, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hunan.   This complex of rooms and halls served for business, entertainment, religious and social activity and as a meeting place for people from the provinces in the southeast and east.

It contains many interesting artefacts.

We were interested to know why every doorway had a steep lip to step over to enter a room and were told it was to deter ghosts from entering, apparently ghosts cannot step over anything.

As we were leaving the Guildhall we stopped for a while to watch the great traditional entertainment in the courtyard.


Then it was time for us to join The Century Sky Cruise Ship for a two day cruise.

I hope you will  join me for our cruise on the Yangtze River in Part 6.