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Wushan & The Lesser Gorges

Having overnighted in Badong, in the early morning daylight hours we passed through Wu Gorge.   Wu gorge is 25 miles long and the middle Yangtze gorge.   So sheer are the cliffs that it is said the sun rarely penetrates the gorge and often these green-clad peaks are hidden by swirls of cloud and mist   The Wu Gorge is gifted with exquisite peaks and lush mountains and ridges.   The rolling river twists and turns and boats zigzag their way through, as if cruising in a fantastic gallery.   The twelve peaks of the Wushan Mountains all rise to a blue sky, maybe blue.   The most fabulous is the Peak of the Goddess (photo).   Towering over the Yangtze River it seems to pierce the heaven.   Well, I read that somewhere.

Nearing our destination, there was evidence of recent construction, new villages, bridges and roads.   There seems to be two standard bridge designs — the suspension bridges with massive concrete pillars and the steel arched bridges as shown below.

Wushan is the entry point for the Lesser Three Gorges of the Da Ning River, a Yangtze River tributary. Our boat, the Century Sun anchored in Wushan.   We boarded a smaller boat for the day cruise on the Da Ning River into the Lesser Three Gorges.   The Da Ning is a much smaller river than the Yangtze, making the surrounding mountains even more dramatic and spectacular.

This first photograph, the Century Sun at anchor, was created from two photographs and it really give sense to the size of this boat.   We were told that the original town or city, was 90 feet below us.   On the hillside is the reconstructed city, the new city.   Again, much use of high rise buildings, most of which are condominiums.   Perhaps a bad idea confining people into such little space.

The small boat had a typical Chinese flair.   Perhaps appearing more as a house boat than a touring boat.   But that is part of the fun.   Our friend here in the blue tee-shirt is Leon.   He and his wife were table mates for most of our meals onboard the boat.   In the next photograph can be seen a building constructed on the hillside with quite long support columns.   To the left of this building is a sign with the number 175 and a red horizontal line.   This marks the future water level of 175 meters.

Situated at the confluence of Yangtze and its tributary Da Ning, Wushan is the starting point for our popular boat trip through the Lesser Three Gorges on the Da Ning River.   The river winds its way 20 miles through the beautiful Dragon Gate Gorge, the Misty Gorge and the Emerald Gorge, which are collectively know as the the Lesser Three Gorges.   Here, sheer cliffs and steep mountains rise on either side, creating a natural gallery of scenic collections as unfold on both banks of the river.   Clear water flows between precarious precipices and peaks covered with green trees and bushes.   Each gorge is separated by lush terraced fields where a variety of crops grow during all four seasons of the year.

We sailed under this bridge, which marks the entry point of the Da Ning into the Yangtze.   Impossible to see in this photograph, this bridge will be below the 175 meter water level.   It is scheduled to be replaced with a new bridge springing off higher ground.   As we sailed deeper and deeper into the gorge, the sky started to clear and the water cleared taking on a different color than the golden brown we had been seeing.

Shown in the first photograph below is a coffin.   It has been determined that it is about 3,000 years old.   What is a mystery is “how it got there and what kind of people put it there?”   There has also been found evidence and supported by very old photographs, of a wooden walkway constructed along the cliff in these areas.   The bright yellow vegetation is canola plants and the bright green is sesame plants.   This was to be a ship catered lunch at the end of our journey.  

Going ahead of us was a boat carrying the video filming crew, servers and food.   They were in a much faster water taxi and were waiting for us when we arrived.   For some reason, there were people there selling things to eat.   The little girl is holding a quail, then there was fruit and some other meats.   We had a buffet style lunch with food from the Century Sun galley.   It was a welcomed treat.

The weather was even better on the return trip.   The sun was brighter and of course casted a different light on the cliffs.   I am guilty of re-photographing some of that which I took earlier in the day.

Back on board our boat, we continue upriver.   The second picture shows a coal chute for loading barges.   From all appearances, this is completely depends on gravity to operate.   Trucks dump their load of coal from the road above the bins and the coal finds it way through the chutes to the barges.   The next photograph, I think is a cement plant.   Certainly there is the limestone in the mountains and cement is in great demand for construction.   Shortly we entered the Qutang Gorge which was spectacular, beautiful mountains, sheer cliffs.   A most pleasant afternoon but sadly this gorge was the shortest of the three, but grandest of them all.   The gorge's widest point is only 500 feet. Mists, is said, to frequently swirl around the mysterious limestone peaks, some nearly 4,000 feet high.   The river rushes swift as an arrow through the narrow entrance, pounding the perpendicular cliff faces on either side of the gorge.   This gorge was a particularly dangerous stretch during high-water seasons and the water in the gorge has been known to rise 165 feet within a very short time.

The first photograph below has a series of signs marking the water levels.   More construction of bridges and highways.   Amazing really.

There was a show put on by the crew member of the boat.   Since there is not enough vertical space for a stage it was impossible to get any photographs worth keeping.   This last picture on this page is of Mieko with our waitress, Ding Ding.   She had a great personality and was an accomplished dancer having taken dancing in school wanting to become a professional.   She was the star of the show and also did all the choreography.  

Tomorrow — Fengdu