Green water tributary

Before leaving home we had read much about China and the Yangtze. We were pretty much prepared for anything that we might come across. Most publications we read talked about how polluted the Yangtze River was and that anything could be found floating in the river. I can't speak to the water quality of course, but from what we saw there was very little floating debris in the Yangtze. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of floating debris. I expected much more than what I saw.

There is one thing you must get used to about the Yangtze, and that is its dark brown color. It definitely appears to be dirty water. In the picture to the left you can see a small tributary feeding into the Yangtze and, just the other side of the bridge, you can see the beautiful emerald green color of the water. The Yangtze's brown color is, in fact, its life-giving force. The silt that is being carried downstream from the mountains and valleys the river passes through. The amount of silk that accumulates on the river's edge is amazing. We saw silt deposits that were ten to twenty feet thick all along the river.

Water buffalo grazing by silt and the river's edge

Silt deposits being mined

John, Carol and Anne enjoying
an evening stroll around the deck
After sunset (mind you, not that we ever saw the Sun actually set) we'd head off for dinner and then take a few turns around the deck. The weather wasn't cold and it was pleasant. One night we walked past this cabin (photo right) to see a display of someone's drawers hanging from the room light and heater. This person was certainly comfortable sharing such a sight with us! I had to laugh.

Somebody's drawers!
We were awakened early the next morning in preparation for our day excursion on a sampan up the Da Ning River to view what they call the Lesser Three Gorges. The scenery along this tributary of the Yangtze is spectacular and it's emerald green waters were beautiful, much different than the Yangtze's dark brown that we had become accustomed to. It was here, however, that I encountered my first disappointment of the trip. GCT's brochure had billed this as a ride on a sampan, which it was, but it isn't what I pictured. I pictured a small sampan capable of holding five or six people and powered by a man pushing a pole along the river bottom. These were motorized sampans capable of carrying 30 to 40 people, and they weren't nice at all. They were old, decrepit and in need of repair, not to mention loud. But, I guess, it was the only way to really see these gorges. Had it been man-powered we would never have gone as far up the river as we did in the allotted amount of time.

The sampan fleet

Boarding the sampan

View from the back
Scenes from the sampan on the Da Ning River. The bridge and cave entrance (1st and 3rd pictures above respectively) will be completely flooded when the Three Gorges Dam is complete. Much of the splendid
scenery that you are about to see along the Da Ning River will no longer exist.

Fertile crops grow in small plots along the river's edge
The picture (left) is a common scene along the Yangtze and the Da Ning rivers ... rich, fertile farmland covered with bright green patches where crops are planted. As you can see in this picture the crops are planted in small plots. We saw no evidence of large fields planted with the same crop as you would see on a farm here in the US. Why? I can only guess that it has to do with the fact that these farms are family farms cultivated by hand without the use of any machinery. The entire time we were in China I never saw a single tractor on any farm. I saw many people culling the land with plows pulled by water buffalo and many people working in the fields, but never with any mechanized assistance. We also saw many orchards growing oranges. They were beautiful with the oranges showing against the green of the trees and hills in the background. Unfortunately all of these farms that we saw will be flooded when the Three Gorges Dam Project is initially flooded next year.
Small sampans, like the ones I thought we'd travel on, were all along the shore of the Da Ning River

Our sampan on the rocky shore
We traveled quite some distance up the Da Ning River passing beautiful green fields and through many beautiful gorges. Then, at the turnaround point, they ran our sampan aground on a rocky shore. There we all left the sampan to explore the beach in search of some beautiful weather-worn rocks. There were many in all shapes, sizes and beautiful colors. Everyone grabbed a handful including Anne and I. It's amazing the boat didn't sink from the added weight of the rocks that we picked up. When wet they were beautiful colors but dull when they dried off. Now I have to find a way to get them polished so they retain the beautiful coloration as if they were wet. I'd be willing to be we've brought a ton of sea shells and rocks home over the years, but never from the volcanos in Hawaii as it is believed that taking those rocks brings bad luck.

Alicia showing off a prized rock

Anne hunting for the
perfect addition to
our collection

Our sampan. Frank and Nancy decided
to sit this adventure out, skipping
the walk down the wooden plank, watching our collection efforts
from the sampan

Sampans pass as we collect rocks
Let's continue to the next page to see the return pictures taken along the Da Ning River and the Lesser 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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