After catching a quick flight to Chongqing, we boarded our boat for a 3-day trip down the Yangtze River to Wuhan. For a local boat carrying far lower standards than an international cruise ship, we were quite satified with our 2nd class private cabin with 4 bunk beds, a/c and bathroom (except for the boat's sewage system - but let's not go there).
All told, there were perhaps 500 people on our boat in 5 classes of travel, of which we were 4 of the 10 westerners (4 Germans, 2 Brits and us). The upper classes view the trip as a pleasure cruise down the river, having access to a lovely upper deck, while the lower classes, featuring as many as 10 people crammed into a small room with no beds, are strictly there for passage. Definitely no so-called Chinese equality.
Weather down the river was glorious with sunny skies and hot temp's modified by the winds. The boys spent most of their time on the open-air upper front deck playing games; Robin loved it so much that he got used to the foghorn blasts that initially sent him into hysterics.
The boat also featured a restaurant and tuck shop. As usual, the restaurant menu on the wall was completely in Chinese characters so our portable translated menu came in very handy and we did lots of pointing at other people's foods and hoping the end product was not an endangered species. Slowly, we are adding to our menu as people are good enough to write down the names of new foods in the appropriate sections. The restauranteurs were sufficiently impressed as to ask us to borrow our menu for photocopying so as to be better prepared for future western travellers.
The main featured attraction of a trip down the Yangtze River is of course passage through the 3 Gorges. More on that in the next segment.