Side Trips on The Way
At 6:05am a tour guide knocked at the door…follow me, follow me now, he says! We saw the ghosts…a series of temples in the dark of morning called the Abode of Ghosts or Fengdu Ghost City…also called the Nether World which is said to be the place of devils…Disneyland, Bob says…a series of temples combined with a hokey carnival-type ride.
After looking at the lunch food provided in the small cafe on the boat we munched on our bag of snacks…oranges, dried apricots, boiled eggs, crackers, dried plumbs and tamarind…chocolate kisses…
The lady came back in to try to get us to pay for the whole compartment…they think we don’t understand the way things work and they are right, Jana says. We gestured to the lady that a compartment mate was welcome but he/she couldnít smoke. But money…no more, no more…I said as I sliced my hand sideways through the air…ok, ok, ok she muttered as she left. The funny part is that a fourth person was never put into our compartment…my guess is that no Chinese would have wanted to be in there with us. But still trying to fool a foreigner.
Another knock at the door in the afternoon…follow me, follow me now, the tour guide said again as the boat pulled into the dock. So up the ubiquitous Chinese wooden steps Bob and Jana went to the 12 storey wooden temple called the Stone Treasure Stockade built next to a huge rock bluff which is supposed to look something like a stone seal. It was built in the 17th century during the Qing dynasty. It will become an island when the water level reaches its full height.
For the rest of the day we played house, tried to stay warm in our comforters and with our hot water bottles in the heaterless cabin, and watched the mountainous left side of the Yangtse go by through the big windows of our compartment…banks full of vacation apartments for the Communist Party cadres we think…factories…huge Mandarin characters telling the locals not to cut the newly planted second growth of trees. Jana sang Old Lang Syne along with Kenny G…Bob read and I worked on this story. We never saw any wildlife…no birds…the Chinese ate them all Bob says. Look at those big white buildings up there on the hill I asked idly…they look like prisons…they sell insurance up there Bob says…they sell insurance? Itís probably a good thing this trip is almost over…
About 6pm we passed a ghost city…one of many…huge empty factory buildings hanging on the mountainside in the fog like a fantasy city drawn in a childrenís book…no people or roads or cars in view. Whole cities are being vacated and taken apart…to be reassembled higher up the mountain out of reach of the water or moved elsewhere…people cutting and collecting bricks from the rubble and carrying them away on their backs.
Tags: Boats, China, Excursions, Yangtse River