Shangri-la post # 2 - Yangzi river cruise
We booked into the cheap Yangzi river cruise while in the hostel in Chengdu. This meant getting a bus to Chongqing (China's largest city) and heading downstream on the river for 3 nights stopping at various towns along the way until just before the giant 3 gorges dam. The foreigners cruise cost minimum $400, but we went for a chinese cruise boat costing a third of that. The disadvantage was having to share a 4 berth cabin with 2 chinese chaps as it turned out. Except for the snoring they were decent enough companions and communication was sparse but cordial.
Strange chinese juice concoctions, as well as, every conceivable edible pig part were much in evidence en route.
Getting in among the bamboo and not quite the yow-tow expected!
Our first stop after a nights cruising was at the early hour of 6 a.m. to visit the chinese ghost city of Fengdu, where all the souls of China go when they die. A few very nasty depictions of hell were on show. Despite the early hour and steep climb up to the city, we got a good laugh when someone addressed me as " Hello pee-pee boy!". It turned out to be a seller of little statuettes which let forth a jet from their groin area when you poured water over their heads - the seller demonstrated on a whole row of little lads with a big smile on his face. It made a nice change to being called hello pose-caa.
More temples and fierce looking statues ...
The highlight of the cruise was switching to a smaller ship and heading down the three little gorges and then jumping onto a small wooden boat to experience the 3 mini-gorges. All commented on in a very loud grating voice by the chinese guides over the tannoy system. The mini-gorges were maybe only 4 to 5 metres wide in places and had bizarre musicians and singers along the way who would only start performing when a boat approached - the first one we encountered on a type of horn is reputed to get 10 yuan (1 euro) a day for his efforts, that's entertainment!
On the main ship, one of the hidden extras was the charge to go out on deck and enjoy the views - 55 yuan. All the foreigners coughed up and we eventually established our own little corner where we drank beer and chatted. I met my first Irishman with his chinese fiancee on a fact-finding mission to Beijing to see if they would get married there and possibly lived there. At the time, this Mayo man seemed to think negatively in each case.
Contact with the chinese tourists was minimal on board, but while waiting to disembark at one point the group we shared our section of the sleepers did send forward a representative to ask Agnes "Way you fom?". With the help of my phrasebook we managed to communicate that she was Korean-American. Then the same man came up and with had cupped to my ear whispered "She bery booty-ful" while filled with daring now another guy whispered to me "Is hse you life?" Surprised at such a profound question I answered, yes I suppose she is my life .... afterwards I realised that the guy meant to say wife!
We skipped the visit to the 3 gorges monster dam at the end of the cruise and headed straight for Wuhan via Yichang - the main transport hub in the region.