July 27: Settling In
Shipboard life for the next five days will have a loose and flexible schedule. Tai Chi at 7 followed by breakfast; then lounging, viewing, lunch, afternoon of lecture, lesson, viewing, touring; followed by cocktail hour, dinner and entertainment.
Having departed Wuhong at 7:30 last night, we awoke to a constant parade of working barges filled with coal and other ores and bundles of what looks to be paper. We’ve learned that the reeds along this part of the Yangtze are turned into the greater part of all the paper produced in China.
Contour is flat and green (reeds). The banks are lined with piles of sand and ore and cranes to transfer the piles into trucks. Boats with 40 foot long conveyer belts sticking out their bows looking like Pinnochio noses slide right up onto concrete runways at water’s edge or at docks outside towns to unload. The shipping commerce business along this portion of the river is active to say the least. Doesn’t make for the prettiest scenery but interesting non-the-less.
We docked at Yeuyang, a good sized city. Late morning about 25 school children came aboard to entertain us. They were from the primary school, which goes to grade 9. After that, not sure what happens educationally for them. The school has 300 students and 100 teachers. Some children live in town, others travel some distance to attend. The 11-12 year old cuties charmed us with their dancing; the just this June graduates sang for us (You Are My Sunshine). The pictures tell the story. (whenever we can get them loaded.)
After lunch we adjourned to the lounge for a Mandarin lesson. Our cabin number is Si San Lio. Thank you is Xiexie (sheshe) I am from the US is Wo cong Meiguo lai. Needless to say we won’t be coming back experts.
Then we learned about the Yangtze. Full notes are available upon request. Here are some highlights:
-1700 miles; 3rd longest after Nile and Amazon
-of China’s 1.3 billion people, 580 million live along the Yangtze
-river responsible for 45% of country’s GDP
-includes a 403 mile long reservoir
-upper reach-east end in the Himalayan mountains; 3700 glaciers; Tibetan Plateau; water critical to all Asian population
-middle reach-Euhsn yo Vhunhkinh; 800 milrd, 200 tributaries; “barn” of the whole country; 60% of rice produced with two crops each year.
-lower reach—900 miles—to Shanghai and East China Sea.
-floods have been devastating throughout history; Three Gorges Dam critical to saving lives and agriculture (more about that tomorrow)
We passed on the Mahjong lesson, but each of us did make a visit to the infirmary. Gary had scraped his arm back in Shanghai and needed antibiotic. The pharmacy he visited gave him a great ointment, but as it turns out was better for acne than abrasions/infections. It’s ALL about the communication!
Jackie visited the doctor to get an antihistamine as a preventive to serious swelling from a bug bite on her leg. Already swollen and site very tender. All’s well now. Interesting system-there is a doc on call, but they also bring in the tour guide as interpreter as the “doc” speaks no English. Glad it was only a bug bite; not an issue with a private part!
Dinner tonight was Chinese traditional. The dishes of every variety just kept on coming. All were delicious—and except for the Wonton Soup, not much like anything of the same name at home. The Kung Pao chicken was light with a depth of spices and spiciness that rocked. Gary and a tablemate chowed on the scallops. Refreshing (shreded) tofu salad and celery (?) that tasted like cole slaw.
The night’s entertainment was a Chinese Minorities Costume Show. Beautifully costumed ship’s crew danced across the dynasties for us. Again, pictures better tell the story.
Tomorrow we begin the journey through the Three Gorges. Tonight, though, the terrain is still very flat. Looking forward to what’s around the river bend.
Oh yes. Can’t forget our first animal siting—water buffalo along the banks. Reminds us that we’ve seen very little wild or domesticated life in the cities (OK we know why no one has dogs and cats) or the river. Hmmmm.