We've been on the boat since Sunday cruising west (up) the
Due to logistics, the flight gets in earlier than the boat is ready for boarding. So we were treated to one of Tauck's wonderful surprises! Most of you who know us and follow our travels know that
The 24 of us pulled up to the massage parlor and were warmly greeted by the staff. We were led up to a large room with massage couches and instructed to remove our shoes and socks. Each person had their own masseuse..all at the same time! First, our feet were put in a boiling bucket of water with slimy tea leaves. While they soaked, we were given a hard neck, back, and shoulder massage. Many "ows" and "ouches" (mostly from
Then we took the short ride to the boat, the Yangzi Explorer ( http://blogspot.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=aee29e1ce510d7b5e229dad78&id=03653f3094&e=a81e0efaa0 ) . This is billed (by Tauck) as the nicest boat on the river. It holds about 120 passengers (thought there are only 50+ on this cruise) and has a staff of 120! We have a wonderful cabin suite. The food (all you can eat!) and staff are excellent, and the ride is very smooth. We didn't actually begin moving until Monday morning (after Tai Chi on the deck--this writer has tried Tai Chi several times and just doesn't get it!) when we began our tour through the Three Gorges (including an off-boat excursion to the Three Gorges Dam--a huge project which has inundated thousands of villages and towns and resulted in the displacement of at least 1 million people--but they have been generously resettled by the government). There has been a lot written, both pro and con, about this project. It was primarily done for flood control, as each year floods would wipe out crops and villages and often kill thousands of people. The second reason was for hydroelectric power;
We passed through the first of the three gorges (the Xiling; the others are the Wu and Qutang), and then had to go through the locks to get past the dam. There is a series of 5 locks which raises the boats over 100 meters! Each lock can hold up to 8 boats (think 2 rows of barges, 4 deep). It takes about 3 hours to go through the whole process as the boats enter the lock, the doors close, water from the dammed lake flows in (completely by gravity) and raises the boats 20 meters in 8 minutes. Then the door to the next lock opens and all move forward and the whole process repeats itself. Everyone was on the top deck as we did the first lock, then most went to their cabins to relax and get ready for dinner. It was very weird to look out our cabin window and see a wall of concrete less than a foot away moving by (as we went forward) and then, a few minutes later, see the wall moving "down" as the boats rose.
Shortly after embarking several of our group became ill. But not to worry, as the shipboard Chinese doctor gave each an antibiotic IV followed by a soothing stomach rub of ashes from a burned herb (which smelled suspiciously like marijuana). So instead of a group-identifying lanyard, our mates all have a gauze-bandaged wrist. So far the
Though it hasn't stopped us from anything, the weather has continued to be gray, gray, gray and wet since we left
The rest of the day was spent eating, sleeping, going to lectures, eating, sleeping, and seeing a show--a typical cruise itinerary. Wednesday started with yoga (for Wendy) and then breakfast. Though the skies were overcast, the predicted high was 90 and there was no threat of rain. We had cruised all night and were tied up at the old city of
It reminded us of places in
You'll note no special food commentary on the cruise, Just use your imagination! The food has been delicious and plentiful--exceeding our expectations. No worries... we're sure there will be more memorable meals to come.
Tomorrow morning we leave the boat for Guilan.
Before we leave you for now... some random thoughts. Some of them rather basic--but were eye-opening for us. This is 2011. If you haven't been to
wen wen and way way