April 18 on the Yangtze River

Our boat finally sailed the night after we saw the river people and the dam. The next morning we found our boat docked again. After a quick breakfast, we boarded a ferry boat on a cruise-offered tour of the Daning River and the Shennong Stream. We passed more hanging coffins up in the cliffs but I find it hard to believe that wooden boxes would last for centuries in this misty. moist climate.

We passed beautiful towns rebuilt by the government after the flooding of the dam, populated with nice trim houses and terraced gardens. I feel sorry for the millions who were ‘moved’ to the cities away from the wonderful river and the life they knew. From the ferry we could see the ancestral tombs, always situated all the way up the terracing, the best at the top, nearest to heaven.

Again the weather is magical, clear with nightly mists rising softly from folds in the bamboo forests, spiked with groups of tall, narrow evergreens, thin soldiers of the hills. The water is murky green, the color of jade. Rocky patches appear in the hills where landslides have exposed the yellow/brown limestone, peeling away in chunks like giant Mah Jong tiles. Lush green everywhere else, the air is moist and fresh. A bunch of us from the States stand in the bow against the rail. It feels wonderful to be on our own away from explanations and crowds.

I try to photograph each sampan we pass. Unattended fish lines hang from the banks, laid for “stupid fish” and sturgeon. Many locals still fish for a living here, but they also grow corn and oranges.

Lines of sampans we transfer into.

We spot another group of “hanging coffins” and then we have reached our destination, a group of 50 sampans. The ferry empties as tourists fill the smaller vessels, 12- 15 a boat, three to s seat. Orange life vests are passed from the rear. The oarsmen jump on the flattened bow and push off, the boat is steered from the captain who stands in the stern. Fur men paddle each boat with blades like crew paddles, narrow plank blades into long rounded shafts. The oar locks are crude pieces of rope hung in six inch long loops from pegs in the gunnels. The men paddle standing, leaning forward over their oars like rugby players in a scrum. These river boats have no keels. At one point the men jump out of the boats and drag them up river pulled by ropes of woven bamboo ropes. Formerly these men worked naked. 


Back on the ferry, the men in the sampans return to their villages, they wave at us. We have purchased a tape of local music and have tipped generously, not usually done in China.









Back on ferry, then cruise ship. Lunch disappointing but wonderful cruising down the river, a fabulous view from our stateroom\, small villages, large container ships, high bridges.

Docked at town of Wanzhou with walled temples, doused in blazing hot afternoon sun. Three small fishing boats pull up to our ship and the fishermen sell dried fish to people of the boat, using long bamboo poles to delivered their goods up three decks.

A group of Chinese woman in the boat docked next to ours play cards.




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