Monday, August 19, 2013

Bus and Boat on the Yangtze

In order to rendezvous with our cruise ship this morning, we left the hotel at 6 a.m. This was not the sleeping in we had been looking forward to aboard ship, but we had the unexpected pleasure to spend three hours in the bush with Allen, our tour guide for the ride from Chongqing to Fengdu City. He was a little older than our previous guides, and had an impressive English vocabulary. He told us stories about the area and the changes it has experienced since the building of the dam. It was very entertaining, and we enjoyed it so much we were almost glad we missed the boat!
We caught up with the boat at 9 a.m., and although they had cleaned up breakfast, they were nice enough to rustle up some bacon, baked beans and little wienies for us!
Our staterooms are all very nice, and each one has a balcony. They feel quite spacious for a cruise ship. We just wanted to stay in it and sleep all day.
We did go explore the ship a little before we took our naps. It is smaller than an ocean cruise ship, with only 153 cabins. Half of them must be full of Chinese children, because the ship is a bit of a madhouse. It seems if you can only have one child you have a tendency to spoil them rotten!
The meals have been buffets so far, and the staff politely suggested we come 15 minutes before they officially open to get some food before the madness begins. There are only 16 English speaking tourists on the ship, the rest beng Chinese families, many of which seem to have found a way around the one child policy.
Amanda, Crystal and I stopped by the workshop on how to tie silk scarves, where we learned a few great tricks. One was how to tie a pretty flower.
We took the afternoon shore excursion to Shi Bao Zhai pagoda. Our guide was a really cute local girl who learned English in Chongqing. Her family was displaced by the dam, but now lives in newly built houses higher on the mountain.
The Pagoda was an impressive structure built in the 17th century entirely from wood. It was saved from the rising water by having a protective wall built around it.
We climbed all 99 stairs to the top floor, which was no small feat in 100 degree temperatures and high humidity. I was glad walking with Suzanne this summer had prepared me for that feeling of being drenched in sweat!
The evening entertainment was the crew cabaret, which featured costumes and dancing, as well as a magical act and Chinese opera face changing performance. It was entertaining and well done.
They also had some audience participation in which John had to shake like a chicken and lay ping pong eggs out of a box tied on his rear end. Amanda had to put the eggs in a basket. They clearly didn't get the most eggs, but won the audience sympathy vote, and each won a pretty can opener and an alcoholic beverage which they gave to our Aussie friends. It was a fun day, and we have more big plans for tomorrow, number one of which is sleeping in!

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