Boarding the Princess Elaine we immediately set sail up the Yangtze toward the Three Gorges. This would give us our last look at the Three Gorges Dam project as we passed through the diversion channel alongside the dam. This was an interesting view as we were at water level looking up at the massive dam structure and not above it looking down.
Scenes of the Three Gorges Dam from the diversion channel

The dam stretched out behind us
Let there be no mistake ... this is one huge dam. Much bigger than the Grand Coulee and the Aswan dams that Anne and I have seen before. Having passed completely around the dam site we now put our thoughts into the upcoming Xiling Gorge. The Xiling Gorge is the largest of the Three Gorges and actually begins before the dam site. If only the weather had been better the pictures would show so much more, but you have to take the cards as they fall sometimes. The weather and fog did add a certain atmosphere to the rather dreary pictures.
The Three Gorges of the Yangtze River were very impressive. Not so much because of the height of the surrounding mountains, rather because of the relative narrow width of the Yangtze in conjunction with the surrounding mountain tops. There were points where two large boats couldn't pass side-by-side through the channel. And, much of the time, the surrounding mountains were nothing more than sheer rock faces. It was a beautiful sight and I expect it will lose much of its appeal once the dam is completed and the area flooded to the 175 meter level.

Channel buoy
The shipping channels were clearly marked with buoys, but they were located on boats and not stationary. The reason ... because of the ever-changing level of the river. This way they could be easily reset based on the current level of the river.

A passing ship
It seems we were never alone on the river. There was always a variety of ships, both large and small, around us and on shore. They were interesting to watch as you never knew what to expect from the next passing barge.

Narrow tributary

Another passing ship

Fishing from a rock

Cloud covered
mountain tops

Shear cliffs

The Yangtze's always
brown color

Trickling waterfall

Passing coal ship

High speed hydrofoil taxi

The Yangtze's narrow passages

A cargo of coal, water buffalo and goats
You really did need to keep your eyes open and inspect every passing ship. The ship (above) carrying the coal with the water buffalo and goats standing on top of the coal came upon us very quickly and many people didn't even see it coming. I'm glad I was paying attention as it is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Anne looking through binoculars

Narrow passage through fisheye

Alicia with Hal and Faye

A Yangtze cruise ship constructed
to look like a Chinese junk

Small coal village

China, today, is heavily dependent on coal for its heat and power, and that is evident when you sail along the Yangtze. Many of the ships and barges are hauling coal, and all along the shore there are small coal operations, most of which are all handled manually or by gravity. Coal would be mined and brought to the river's bank where it was left high above the river. They would then send the coal down chutes to load the waiting boats. For the most part there was no evidence of any automated machinery beyond the trucks that were used to transport the coal from the mine to the river.

The flood level marked on the mountainside
All along our route you would see large white signs placed on the hillsides. There were two
of them ... the 135m and 175m markers. The 135m marker (seen clearly above) shows the
level of the initial flooding scheduled for 2003. The higher 175m marker (white marker in the
middle of the mountain) shows the eventual water level when the area is totally flooded
in 2009. Everything below these markers will be covered by the water.
Let's continue to another page for more pictures of the Three Gorges ....
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Welcome to our China 2001 Photo Album
Planning and Getting there: Grand Circle Tours and Northwest Airlines
Beijing : Arriving in Beijing | Tiananmen Square | The Imperial (Forbidden) Palace (1) | The Imperial Palace (2) | The Nine Sons of the Dragon
The Imperial Palace Garden | The Summer Palace | Summer Palace (2) | Summer Palace (3) | Summer Palace (4) | Local Beijing Market
Local Beijing Market (2) | Hutong | Bell Tower | Hutong Family, Dinner and the Opera | Cloisonné Factory | Ming Tombs | Ming Tombs (2)
Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling | Temple of Heaven
Shanghai : Arriving Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden | Yuyuan Garden (2) | The Temple of the Jade Buddha | The Bund | Day Excursion to Suzhou
Silk Process | The Administrator's Garden of Suzhou | Shanghai Museum of Art
Cruising the Yangtze River : Yangtze Cruise, Day 1 | Yangtze Cruise, Day 2 | The Xiling and Wu Gorge | The Lesser Three Gorges
The Lesser Three Gorges (2) | The Qutang Gorge | Wanxian | The Last Day of Cruising | Regal China Cruise Lines
Chongqing : Chongqing
Xi'an : Xi'an and Emperor Qin's Terracotta Warriors | Emperor's Qin's Terracotta Warriors (2) | Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an City Wall
Quilin : The Limestone Peaks of the Li River | The Limestone Peaks of the Li River (2) | Guilin and the Childrens Park | Children's Park (2) and Reed Flute Cave
The Hotels: Hotels, rail and air travel in China
Hong Kong : Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Fishing Village | Hong Kong at Sunset | Hong Kong Bird & Flower Market
| New Territories Fishing Village | Hong Kong Farewell Dinner
Bangkok : Jim Thompson House and Golden Buddha | The Flower Market | The Food Vendors | Grand Palace | Mystical Figures | Brightly Painted Masks on Mystical Figures
Golden Mystical Figures | Buildings of the Grand Palace | Lunching at the Shangri La Hotel | Loy Nava Rice Barge Cruise | Ayutthaya, Ancient Capital of Siam
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the Reclining Buddha | Bang Pa In, The Summer Palace |

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