I was up in the computer room at 4 this morning and Dallas, a man from Denver, came to say he could use my help with the computer "Because Tom says you're the resident expert." That was strange to hear! But I DID manage to help him get to his e-mail, so I guess I looked good.
When the sky began to lighten this morning, most of the world had disappeared in the thick mist. We had passed through the dam locks during the night (I slept through it all) and were now in the reservoir area.
I could see the mountains that lined the reservoir, but everything in front of the ship was a white out. It's a good thing that the channel is well marked by buoys.
They have been marking our path all the way from Wuhan. It's interesting that all the brochures show these gorges on a clear day. The guides tell us that fog is the most common phenomenon here and that because of the placement of the mountains, it is very unusual to have a clear day. But still, it is beautiful and we have been blessed (so far) with wonderful weather. Though temps have been predicted to be as high as 100, they have been consistently pleasant and we have had no rain, which the guides tell us is very lucky for us. And the thick fog DOES lift a bit, but the haze is with us forever.
Today's excursion was an easy one for us. We switched to a small boat that could navigate the small tributary feeding into the Yangtze River and we explored the "lesser gorges." Lesser only in size of the waterway, I suspect, since they were every bit as spectacular as what we have seen thus far.
We picked up the boat in Wushan, one of the new towns that was built to relocate people who were going to be flooded by the dam project.
(Photoshop is wonderful. Here is that same photo the way it REALLY looked today, before running it through a Photoshop filter!)
The first order of business was to pay a toll to get us into the gorge. No fast pass here! Our boat pulled up to another boat and the transaction was completed quickly.
As we were slowly sailing into the gorge, the local guide was giving us information, history and cultural background of the area...and also trying to sell us their tour book (we bought one).
The second of the two gorges, the Ba Wu Gorge was the one we were all interested in seeing. Here we would see, we were told in our brochure "hanging coffins" and, if we were lucky, monkeys. If I were at home, or even in a hotel with wifi, I would look up more accurate information on hanging coffins, but I can't do that here in my cabin, with no wifi, so what I'll say is that I'd seen photos of the hanging coffins, constructed by the ancient Ba people who lived in this region from about 700 BC. The photos I've seen show real coffins hanging on the side of the cliff. That's what I expected to see.
Not exactly. Not here. Apparently there is "a" coffin and it is here:
What? You can't see it? Let me make it easier for you. It is not hanging on the side of the cliff, but is in a cave. See?
Still having problems? Well, let me get Photoshop to help me make it clearer:
There it is. One coffin. In a cave. In a mist...and thank goodness I have Photoshop because until we got back to the ship, I still hadn't really "seen" it! Apparently there are other spots in China and the Philippines where they are more easily seen, and in greater numbers. They speculate that the Ba people felt that if they were buried high up on a mountain, they were more likely to get into heaven.
The monkeys, however, were easy to see. Rhysus monkeys who live in the rocks by the shore, who all scattered to higher ground when our big scary boat approached them.
We headed back to Wushan and The Viking Emerald. One of our local guides, Amy sang us a lovely song en route. We were in time for lunch, which included local street food, like pig's ear, chicken feet, duck tongues and other fun things. Most of us passed, but Mike and Walt were brave.
Walt trying to figure out how to eat a chicken foot
In the afternoon, I took a 3 hr nap after washing out some undies. Peggy will be so pleased--I hung them up to dry on the stateroom balcony, just like all the other boats we've seen on the river.
(Walt has been drying HIS with the hair dryer and hanging in the bathroom...mine were dry in a couple of hours.)
We attended a lecture about our day tomorrow (I will probably stay on the boat) and saw a preview of the DVD that has been made about our trip. We then went to a cocktail party for people who have made Viking cruises before. A nice touch to keep all of us coming back. When the reception was over, we headed downstairs for dinner.
Our little dinner table group was all together and we all brought cameras to take a picture.
That's Sharon and Brian, from outside London, behind Mike and Walt and with Char is Jim and his wife Marie, from Pensacola, FL. They are all delightful, interesting people and tonight we lingered over conversation about, of all things, concentration camps and the holocaust. It has been fun getting to know them all.
The evening ended with a show put on by the talented crew members, choreographed by our server Joly.
A nice way to end the evening.
Oh...and for those who wanted to see my jacket, they packaged it all up for me in cellophane, but here is an identical one which was hanging down by the tailor's shop.
I will be posting this the wee small hours of the morning on May 18 in China (tho still May 17 at home). For those few who understand the significance of that date, there is a hidden tribute on this page. Can you find it?