Gorge-ous Gorges

I can’t help the pun.

The highlight of the Three Gorges Yangtze(长江三峡)River Cruise is the… drum roll…. Three Gorges (surprise!!) – at least that’s what the cruise liners all advertise on their flyers.

Jo, doing the "Titanic" as we sail through the Gorges. We were on a cruise ship. Someone HAD to do it!

To be honest, Jo and I were a bit mountain-fatigued coming into this leg of the trip, so we were really just here for five days of hard core pampering. (when I say “Jo and I” and “we”, I really meant “I”) (Don’t judge! I estimate we have been climbing an average of 1000000000000000000000 flights of stairs a day prior to the cruise… give or take). But like always, in one way or another, China has a way of hitting you in the guts and taking your breath away.

We passed through Xilin Gorge (西陵峡), the first of the Three Gorges at 6.30 in the morning. Maybe it’s just me, but I personally think that anything that can awe Jo awake at 6.30 am to do this… must be doing something right.

For me, all is good in the world when you can see gorgeous mountain sceneries without needing to climb a single step.

In a weird “Inception” – like moment, Victoria Cruises even arranged to transfer us from the cruise liner to a small ferry to an even smaller sampan for our “shore” excursions to the Little Three Gorges (小三峡) and then the (really!) Little Little Three Gorges (小小三峡) There’s something serene about drifting along a river, sipping a beer and watching the idyllic townships float by.

We saw quaint little villages along the river. The vertical lines were apparently cut into the cliffs decades ago when the only way for boats to transit along the (then) shallow tributaries was by, I kid you not... (naked) men pulling them along with ropes. We were then transferred onto a small sampan - like one of those Russian dolls which you open up to reveal smaller and smaller dolls

At the back of my mind, I know it is all very “touristy” and that many of this townships are shadows of their former selves. It’s just hard not to “feel it” when you have a ferry man decked out in his best wuxia novel boat man outfit (complete with long bamboo pole) (and jeans). Mr Boatman completed the picture by singing us traditional folk songs that reverberated around the cliffs that surround us.

Our Funky Boatman

The cruise was made all the more surreal by the colonies of monkeys that scamper along the river edge and ermm.. hanging coffins (悬棺).

The hanging coffins of Sichuan. If you stare (squint) really hard, you can even see the coffins within the caves. The coffins were driven into the cliffs about 2500 years ago by the Bo people, but to this day, no one knows why they did it, or even how they did it. Bear in mind that the water level was 185 metres lower back in the day... which means the coffins were much higher above the waterline

It’s a thing.

All in all, it was a good day excursion before we were transferred back to the mother ship. We spent the rest of the day (and night) sailing through the Wu Gorge (巫峡) and the Qutang Gorge (瞿塘峡)

By “we”, of course I meant the captain of the ship. Jo and I? We spent the rest of the day eating, napping, eating, eating, sleeping and eating again.