Tuesday - 22 May - It is light outside the
cabin by 0500 - We are already docked at Wushan at the confluence of the Daning
and Yangtze Rivers. We didn't notice at what time the ship arrived. There are
small fishing boats outside the window with people selling fish to the crew.
Breakfast buffet is at 0830. We use the Internet in the lounge to send messages
home. During breakfast another Victoria Cruise line ship coming down river ties
up against us. We debark along with passengers on the other ship and board a
smaller vessel for the cruise on the Daning River through the Lesser Three
Gorges. The two groups of passengers have different tags to identify them.
Wushan is a popular stopping point for
travelers wanting to take this side excursion. The former town on the north
bank is already largely under water and a new town is now across the Yangtze.
We have cruised into the Daning for only 20 minutes when some passenger falls
and hurts her arm. We must turn around and take her back to the dock. Hopefully
she will find a doctor there. Then we cruise back under the soon-to-be-
demolished arch bridge and are into the first of the three lesser gorges. Soon
we pass the large construction site where a new bridge is being built from both
sides of the Daning. We pass several small villages, soon to be under water.
Already the ancient Qin Dynasty paths cut into the river bank have disappeared.
Between the gorges the river banks open out into valleys and side streams.
There are large signs at points along the river indicating the height to which
the river will rise. Every possible piece of terrain is cultivated, in some
places by use of terraces. We pass several fishermen using nets. At one point
we notice a small group seated next to the river at a tiny landing spot. These
are 'mountain people' who come down from their homes high into the mountains in
order to take a river taxi out to Wushan. There is no other way of access. Deep
into another gorge we stop at a larger landing built on pontoons. Here we
transfer to narrow, flat bottomed craft operated by a pair of Ba natives for an
exciting trip into a very narrow side canyon. We pass groups who are collecting
fire wood, another group who are singing for our entertainment and lonely life
guards who are stationed along the canyon walls in case of emergency. Everyone
wears life preservers for this trip. One of the boat men sings a plaintive song in the Ba
language, which our guide explains is about love of a girl.
Upon our return to the Victoria cruise ship we embark and have a buffet lunch.
Now we enter the third, the Qutang Gorge. There is a demonstration of kite
flying on the upper deck. A variety of hand-made, colorful and exotic Chinese
kites are for sale. Passage through the third gorge requires only 30 minutes.
Now with the water level already so high it is much different than in the past.
The Yangtze is not rushing and boiling through the narrows. It is a bit wider,
but still seems narrow, and there is less current due to the dam. Once again
the formal dinner is excellent. In the evening there is a talent show in which
the ship crew again double as dancers and musicians in gorgeous costumes
playing ancient instruments. There are two lion dancers.