We left Shen Nong Stream and ventured into the last of the Three Gorges, Xiling Gorge at night. After dinner our ship went through the 2-way 5-steps ship lock. One of the locks is pictured below, just imagine the water filled with ships, we were 1 of 6 ships and cruised straight into the second gate as the water drained. Water decreased about 20 metres at each ship lock as we traveled downstream towards the Three Gorges Dam.
There were numerous staff members on deck, we later found out they were university students majoring in Tourism and were friendly folks from Yichang, Wuhan and Xian. Soon to graduate they assisted guests with questions as part of their practicum. Our visit was cut short as our throats began to hurt from the smoke generated by the tractor on an adjacent ship so we retired to our rooms for the night.
Day 11 began bright and early at 5:30 AM with breakfast at 6:30 AM. Guests were then split into smaller groups for a bus ride to the dam. Pictured below our view as we crossed a bridge towards shore.
Below a small house boat anchored to shore while its owner rinsed some vegetables on the river bank.
The long line-up as passengers waited to get on the bus.
On shore there was another short wait which gave us some time to wander about. Nearby 3 ladies sold local oranges, the one on the right tied them into neat little bunches as the middle one looked on. I admired the unique shapes of their woven baskets, the tall one on the left is a knapsack.
Around the corner more stalls, the lady below was roasting chestnuts. A most marvelous aroma filled the air, it was a good thing we had breakfast.
The buses arrived at the security checkpoint, all bags were x-rayed, guests and buses were carefully checked over before continuing.
Finally we arrived at the Three Gorges Dam! The first stop was the scenic point below. Construction was ahead of schedule, some of the turbines were already in use.
Close up of the red huts situated above the concrete structure, apparently they were maintenance cranes equipped with lifts that reached the machinery below. They slid along the structure side to side and stayed off to the sides when not in use. To me they looked like little red houses, I like the one on the left with the 4 big windows.
To the right, 4 pillars stood out amongst the still water, they looked as if something was missing, construction seemed incomplete.
Further to the right, more pillars against the background of buildings.
And continuing to the right, an empty 4 lane road curved around a grassy corner decorated with the Olympic rings to welcome 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
We returned to our bus and arrived at the tourist centre that housed a mini model of the dam pictured below. The bright blue lines indicated the pathways of the ship locks. Numerous visitors crowded the room as their guide explained in Mandarin. We were assigned an English speaking guide but he did not say a word to us! Other passengers shared bits of info they gathered from other guides as they wandered around. It was very noisy, the room felt humid and hot so we headed outside.
Ahhh... a beautiful park for guests to relax and stroll along the paths to enjoy a panoramic view of the dam.
One of the lookouts below was another ship lock, a nicely manicured garden occupied the middle section. On the hill to the right billboards displayed various company names that were involved with the dam project, Alstom a French company was one of them. China had consulted experts from all over the world to learn the technology and built the dam.
Another viewpoint showed the Three Gorges Dam again, this time we were on the opposite side.
More little red maintenance huts were seen through the morning haze.
Power lines carried electricity that was generated.
Cables by the river side, they carried power to the people.One of the last viewpoints pictured below was of a ship lock occupied with cargo ships.
Our main goal in China was to see the Yangtze, the cruise was great fun but the sights were bittersweet as they signaled the end of our river journey. The Three Gorges Dam, a sign of China's mighty economy and advanced technology, came at a great price. As I looked on I thought about the 1.4 million people that were relocated because of the rising water. My heart goes out to them. Though without the dam, downstream areas suffered devastating floods every year. At the moment China is facing some of the fiercest floods in decades, click here to read. Things could have been a lot worse.
Day 11 to be continued next week as our China adventure continues!