This morning marked the start of the 3 gorges, which was photographed copiously. If the Chinese ever need to recreate Wuzhong onwards, there will be plenty of information to call upon. We were photographed too, being the only foreigners on the boat. Another boat that took the tour at the same time as us (there were quite a few of them) was predominantly of foreigners.
Andrew said that he gets the impression that the Chinese people stop smiling as soon as their face turns away from you. This is unlike other cultures, where the connection that 2 strangers make when they talk to each other seems to last a short time after they part.
Whatever the Chinese do, they do in a rush and then move on to something else. This is so true. For the first section of the gorge, everyone was outside taking pictures but afterwards it was practically deserted for the rest of the trip. This suited us fine, and we enjoyed time together outside, passing through gorges from the back of the boat.
Funny story: At the back of the boat there are 3 levels of balconies; all offset. One man above threw the tea leaves from his drinking canister into the river, but some dripped onto a lady below. She had tea and tea-leaves in her hair and on her clothes. She was not happy.
For lunch we patronised the restaurant again, and had chilli pork and bok choy with mushroom bits in it. I’ve taken a liking to the chilli dishes, which is pretty unusual for me. These tend to be a bit on the sweet side, but that could just be a foreigner-menu thing (ie an English menu).
Going, Going, Gone
The theme song from the trip has been Gone, by Switchfoot. This is because we’ve seen many 175m signs, and buildings below them. The family in the above photo can hardly ignore the fate of their house.
After lunch we joined everyone else on the ship and went on a ‘Mini 3-Gorges tour. We saw the Mini 3-Gorges from a ’small boat’ (only 250 people), and the first leg of the trip took 1 1/2 hours. And what do the Chinese do when they’re bored? That’s right, they smoke. Then then they smoke some more. Some people very kindly went outside to smoke, but not everyone was that thoughtful. We couldn’t stay outside to avoid it; it started drizzling then raining for just about the whole day. We were exceptionally glad of our goretex and spray jackets, as Andrew would’ve become far wetter without his. Mine had a bit of a hood. Neither of us had brollies on us, though we brought them. We’ll keep them on us tomorrow, though.
After the 1 1/2 hours we all disembarked and transferred to small traditional-type boats, with a guy in front wearing an appropriate hat and top. He sang a few call-and-response songs, which we joined. He then handed out keyrings (2 to us) to everyone, went up the front and sang a few more songs. Then he came up the boat and asked everyone for Y5 for the keyring. He had to be joking!! But no, he wasn’t. He most definitely wasn’t, so I handed back the keyrings with pleasure. I object to something seeming seeming like a freebee then not being one, most strongly. It’s not the first time it’s happened in this part of the country. It seems to be the local way of ripping people off.
Did I mention the cigarette smoke? It’s really quite disgusting, foul, putrid, revolting, and bad manners.
Incidentally I seem to be a little more at home with the social norms and customs than Andrew, ie, you do what you want and ignore everyone else. With the exception of the smoke.
Doorless loos/ squats are normal now. On the smaller boat there were 2 open squats with a small glass partition between them. It must have been for show because I couldn’t think of any practical purpose for it. While I was using one there were a pair of feet pointing at me, about 2 feet away, belonging to a waiting patron. I hadn’t realised how hard it is to do your business when someone is waiting for you to finish. I’d like to assume that she wasn’t looking at me. I certainly wasn’t looking at her.
In the afternoon a native Chongching girl sat next to us. I thought she was Japanese because she had white, clear skin. She turned the fish she was eating over, too, which meant at least she was not from the south of China. She systematically, carefully and methodically ate the fish, then wiped her hands with a wet-wipe. She then cleaned her camera thoroughly with a soft cloth. Andrew thought she was from Taiwan. Anyway, she was an English major at University, and was pleasant and enjoyable to talk to. While we spoke to her, 2 kids (originally seated behind us) kept on waving rattling percussion toys in her face. Persistently. Their Grandma didn’t do anything about it but looked on benevolently. We’re used to this type of behaviour in children, now. The girl was travelling independently in China (unusual for a girl), and was frustrated at the short annual leave her company had. She said that she’d rather work less and travel more, and have fewer comforts in life than the opposite (much work, many comforts, no travel), which characterises most Chinese. I thought that was a good way of describing the Chinese work-ethic. If you think about it, Australians really are a travelling bunch at heart, for the most of us.
We went to see a Sunken City; recreated, of course, above the waterline. I’m sure the original was replete with people trying to sell things of limited worth and value, as this one was. And no actual life going on. There wasn’t much to see. The architecture was nice though. The city wasn’t finished though and some areas were off-limits. Andrew thought it was: unfinished, unprofessional and a bit comical. Fair enough. It was also raining, which put a damper on things. We bought 2 small potatoes on a stick (Y1), and 2 pancakes with egg inside with chilli seasoning (Y2) each. They were just the thing on a cold, wet afternoon.
Getting on and off the boat was an intensely pushy experience. No-one pushes like the Chinese (unless it’s the Indians, according to travellers who’ve been to India). It was an enjoyable day, but we were also glad when we returned to the main boat at about 7pm to get warm and dry. We were given a ticket each to some sort of evening performance, but at the end of a cold, wet day didn’t feel the need to redeem it. Six hours with other Chinese was enough today.
I think I might be fighting some bug at the moment. Either that, or it could just be the excessive smoky air we’ve been breathing for the last few days. I’ve very much valued our private room; somewhere we can relatively escape from other people smoking. I feel dizzy every so often because of it. I’m sure we can even distinguish between the brands of the evil sticks now.