Yangtze River Cruise

Just before leaving Yichang for our cruise we had another lovely dining experience at a small restaurant. Our earlier technique of pointing at dishes that other people were eating had proved very successful, but we found a flaw in it: it is entirely dependant on the ability of those around you to order correctly. Well, to sum it up we ordered large pig intestines for lunch and cringed as people around us watched us attempt to finish the plate (it didn't happen by the way).

We headed to the ferry terminal for our afternoon depature, we bought some tickets from some shaddy counter and I had my doubts as to whether or not we would ever get on a ship. After a long bus ride to the ship we managed to board it a few hours later along with a few other foreigners including a French woman, Fabienne, that was very excited to have met someone who she could speak french to. We saw lots of her during our 3 days and she was a great source of information and extremely nice to talk to (she has been travelling for 2 years). She even gave me a pair of pants that she didn't need anymore.

Our four person cabin (we splurged for second class) was surprisingly nice and smelled great (until the bleach smell gave way to the standard sewage smell). We had a middle-aged Chinese couple with us Yao and Li. The husband Yao spoke English and was able to help us with all the Chinese instructions given to us by the boat staff. They asked us lots of questions about Canada and Li, who couldn't speak a word of English giggled as she squeezed the fat on my gut. (Yann thought this was hilarious!, me, not so much). They did look out for us, one night when we arrived at 10 p.m from the deck Li was waiting at the door of our cabin for us. She thought we were lost, or that we were stranded at the last stop.

Our first morning on the boat, we woke up to find that mice had gotten into our snacks, which made us sad. It didn't seem to shock Yao and Li too much, we just moved all our food to the upper cabinets. Then I got into a stand-off with the tour guide who wanted to charge us 50 Y more than Chinese guests for the day trip. We refused and went back to our rooms to spend the day there, she came to get us about 30 seconds before departure and told us we could come on condition we didn't tell the other foreigners what we had paid for our tickets.

This first day trip was extremely random (and as it turned out, not really worth the money). We left our cruise ship onto a smaller boat and entered the Shennong river, the river has some beautiful gorges and is the home to a small minority group in China, but the big draw is the naked boat trackers. Young, muscular men who pull boats upstream naked (at least this is what we were led to believe). It turns out, no one really does this anymore, but they did transfer all two hundred of us into small traditional wooden boats and local men pulled us upstream in their underwear. This my friends, is Chinese tourism! I guess it was worth if for that alone. After this 6 hour excursion we opted to skip the other tours along the way and got off the boat and wandered the small towns on our own. This proved to be more interesting and more economical.

We sailed through the famous Three Gorges all afternoon and sat up on the upper deck in deck chairs watching them (this was very relaxing). For dinner we stopped at a small seaport called Fen jie and had dinner with our newfound friends, Fabienne and a couple from the Netherlands Willemijn and Arjen. (Arjen is a medical student and he gave me a consultation on my finger that got infected from peeling an orange).

We had a great time slowly moving down the river and we arrived bright and early (5 a.m.) in Chongqing this morning. Our roommates were definetely early birds and they had us ready by 6 a.m. for the tour of Chongqing that we had signed onto with them. It was a great ultra cheap tour that brought us to a couple sights out of town and then back downtown. Of course, it was only in Chinese, but we are willing to read the English signs. Mid-afternoon we were dropped off on some street corner in Chongqing (a city of 10 million inhabitants) with only a vague idea of the direction we had to walk in (Yann has a compass). Within thirty seconds of standing there with our Lonely Planet open an old man had us aboard a public bus with instructions to the bus driver to leave us downtown. We were there in 10 minutes and another group of people showed us to our hotel. We are being very well taken care of. Oh yeah, and a guy from Chicago living here walked us to this internet cafe, because he couldn't remember the name of the street.

We are only here one night as we are moving even further west, but tonight we will sample famous Chongqing hotpot, one of the spiciest dishes in China. (We have had it once with Janice and Dennis and I swear it made me feverish). We have to be at the long distance bus station tomorrow morning by 6:30 a.m. to catch a 7 a.m. bus to Leshan.


Super-Mario said...

Je suis heureux de voir que le voyage se déroule bien. Emilie continue d'écrire, c'est bien amusant. J'ai hate de voir les photos. J'ai commencé à faire une collection de photos de Yann avec et sans expression faciale.

mom said...


mom said...

Your intestine story reminded me of when Andre ordered andouilettes in Paris and yelled out "les tripes"when he cut into it and the insides sprang out.