Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yangtze River Journal Day 10 Badong

Hello Thursday! I am so excited and am so glad to share one of my favorite parts of the cruise! As promised last week, we continue with the shore excursion on Day 10 of our China trip along the Yangtze River.

As our little boat with the orange roof neared the shore, several wooden boats even smaller in size materialized. Pictured below, by a long row of tourist shops, groups of men gathered and waited on the boats.
A closer shot of the waiting men, some of them chatted away but most were in smaller gatherings, engrossed with a card game of some kind.
Our guide Jessica divided the guests into smaller troops of 11, here she was below holding the number 4. The men quickly assembled the chairs as we boarded, lifejackets were given out and hastily put on.
Leaving the shore, we noticed more tourist guides dressed in pink as they led more passengers. Eventually all the boats were full and the shore was empty as everyone left for the day's adventure.
A quick row in Badong along Shen Nong Stream, our guide Jessica told us the water rose 1 meter per week with another 70 meters to go. The scenery was prettier but with the water so shallow no big boats could get through. Only small wooden boats with the help of stream trackers could journey on as we were shown very soon.
The wooden vessels began to scrape against the river bed, the men got out and started pulling the boats with long ropes made of local grass.They ran alongside the small boats against the backdrop of concrete residential high-rise. Jessica said the government had compensated the locals to move to higher ground, housing is better now compared to their little wooden huts. With the rising water came the influx of cruise ships and tourists, which meant additional income for the locals, their economy and living standards had improved tremendously.
I caught this sight of the stream trackers below, the men were visiting amongst themselves and smiling as they worked. They seemed happy and looked very fit, only muscles and bones. Note their shoes, Jessica said their wives made them out of a local grass to prevent slippage. Each pair would take 1 day to make and last only 6 days.
Traffic jam on Shen Nong Stream as more boats were being pulled by the stream trackers.
Gradually everyone made it around the corner and we returned to deeper waters.
A glance at one of Badong's countryside, it is so very pretty. Did you know one of the buildings was a school, the children came out to wave at us when we arrived! I was so busy waving back I forgot to take a picture. Then, led by their teacher, the kids began to sing at the top of their lungs for us!They were not the only ones that sang. Shown in action below, Jessica with the boat captain demonstrated 2 local folk songs. Guests were instructed to join in a tune about friendship which I enjoyed very much. Another melody was about courtship, Jessica told us she is 26 years old and too old to marry, most girls are married by 18.
A race ensued amongst the boaters, passengers were encouraged to cheer their crew on. There was a lot of shouting which then led to great laughter, everyone was enjoying themselves.
A peek at one of the crew members as he smiled broadly when we raced. The boat captain stood behind him, there are 2 captains, one is at the very front.
Back on shore, a shot of the returning boats as we waited for the rest of the guests to arrive.
Below a tourist shop keeper negotiated her price with a buyer. In the foreground some stream tracker shoes for sale.
On the way back to the cruise ship, we continued to chat with Jessica. Her English is very good, she mastered it on her own with the help of language tapes for 6 months. Wow! If only all our guides spoke English like her! She said only certified English speakers were hired as tour guides, there was a shortage so they decided to try her out. She felt at ease when we told her we understood her perfectly, we were delighted to learn about the area and the people from a Badong native.

Below a bush covered cliff with one tree that grew sideways.
Jessica pointed out a hanging coffin, a local custom is to bury ancestors at great heights as a show of respect. The caskets can be viewed closer now that the water has risen.
A peaceful scene of a fisherman as he gathered up the catch of the day.
The lasting image of Shen Nong Stream on that late afternoon. Time flew by quickly that day, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with our stream tracking adventure. But... there is more to come as Day 10 continues next week!

1 comment:

  1. Another great post. Thank you again. I am enjoying this very much.