A Truly 'Gorges' Cruise

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our weekend Yangtze River cruise was completely spur of the moment. Hubs sent me an email telling me to go check out a certain cruise site; that many ships were calling my name. The site in question was Victoria Cruises and the ship that beckoned fervently was the Victoria Empress.

We ran the idea by Brother-in-law #2 who was visiting. He liked it so I made the cruise and flight bookings. Our four day three night downstream adventure would begin from Chongqing and end in Yichang, both cities being just two and a half hours away by plane from Beijing.

Chongqing was huge, congested and very, very humid. As a matter of fact, the humidity enveloped us throughout the cruise like a big damp blanket.


Thingamajig that transported passengers from dock to vessel.

The ship was spacious but not so big that one feels lost. There were under two hundred passengers on board so after a day or two, everyone kind of knew everyone else, at least by sight. We were put into groups of ten for meals and excursions. Our group comprised of two other couples from America and another from the UK.

The standard twin bedded cabins were clean and tastefully decorated. Each came with its own bathroom and viewing balcony:

This was our first cruise ever and I must say it was thoroughly enjoyable. There were excursions to Fengdu, the Three Gorges Dam, ferry and sampan rides on the Lesser Gorges. And while on deck, there were talks and lectures on various topics ranging from Three Gorges Dam project, Chinese Medicine, Basic Mandarin 101, Kite Flying to Mahjong. There was even a class on Vegetable carving!

Spoils of vegetable carving

I took my crocheting along and had some down time at the bar with a cup of Eight Treasures Tea, so named because of the eight ingredients found in the infusion. I could only make out the following: red date, wolf berry, white fungus, crysanthamum and sesame seed. The other three I wasn't so sure and as with most Chinese food and beverages, ignorance is bliss. It tasted good and that was all that mattered.

Eight Treasures Tea - don't ask, just enjoy

The Three Gorges did not disappoint. The scenery was breathtaking and made all the more special because some of the sights will be submerged in October. Come next year, all that we've seen will be completely underwater when the Three Gorges Dam project is complete. The other point of interest was the Hanging Coffins. I saw a documentary on the subject on Discovery so it was a treat to see it in real life, albeit from far away.

We took ALOT of photographs but here are some of them. I also have some of Fengdu where we visited the Ghost City but I think it deserves its own entry. Enjoy these for the moment!

Footnote: This is what a shiplock is all about.

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