The Mighty Yangtze - Part 1

 Ever since I saw Sesame Street's Big Bird goes to China when i was a kid I've wanted to sail down the Yangtze river.  The Yangtze is the longest river in Asia and the 3rd longest river in the world.  It's the lifeline of China.  The controversial 3 gorges dam project was mega expensive and raised the river level higher so that many cities and towns had to be relocated to higher ground.  It's the largest hydro electric power station in the world.

I only had 3 days to do this and everywhere I called or saw online said i needed 5-7 days.  Eventually i just called the guy in the "Rough Guides" book, Jimmy Yin and he said they have a tour that's 3 days.  He came to the hotel to pick me up to take me to the booking office by the river.  Will was with me and is a fluent speaker and tight ass so I felt ok going with this guy.  So it turned out everything was legit and good.  On Jimmy's card it says "Jimmy Makes it Happen", and I can say that he sure does.  the 3 day route was:  take a bus from Chongqing to Wuzhou and board the boat there.  Then see all the stuff up to the lesser 3 gorges, then spend half a day taking a series of smaller boats up the lesser 3 gorges then getting back on the big boat and continuing until we took a bus for 30 min at some point to the 3 gorges dam site where we spent a few hours.  Then i think we took a bus to Yichang which is the terminus of a lot of tours.  the river runs all the way to shanghai but that takes quite a bit more time and days.  Looks like it's double the distance.  I guess after it's all said and done 3-4 days on the river/touristy land stops is good for me.  I don't know if i would want to spend 8 days on the river unless i was a China veteran and had no where else to visit.

this was delicious.  Jimmy took us to downtown Chongqing for lunch after booking my tickets.  we also booked Will's train tickets back to Chengdu and a bus ticket for when i get off the boat in Yichang to get to Wuhan to then take the bullet train to Shanghai.  That bus ticket......

here he is as advertised, Jimmy Yin.  nice guy, i highly recommend

Chongqing was a cool gritty river city

check out this police traffic control command center

as we were walking down to the river I though hahaha sucks for whoever has to get on that bus with all those old people and then we suddenly stopped and he was like here we are.

i didn't have to wear a hat nor was i ever offered one.  I did have a lanyard with a tour badge on it, which i wore all the time because i didn't know what was going on ever.  It was a good thing too because a few times one of the tour guides saw my badge and told me to go this way or that way.  Why did I do a tour?  that's not my style.  but basically it's the only way to do the yangtze river unless you want to get really adventurous.  Which maybe i should have.

on the bus, very loud karaoke videos only there was no karaoke system (thank god) or mics, they were just playing it.  Loudly i might add.  tip to everyone, foam ear plugs are a travelers best friend.

man i wanted to get one of these so bad but never got around to it.  cheap little plastic tibetian prayer wheels that are solar powered so you don't even have to spin it yourself, all your prayers are done for you via solar power.

our bus

rest stop, thank god.  i had to go soooo bad because we drank beer at lunch.  who knows how long the bust ride was going to be.  I was already at threat level 8 when i got on the bus cuz it was so abrupt and without warning.

i'm going to assume this is a truck load of sh!tty chinese cars.

at the docks in Wuzhou.  we waited for at least an hour.  people used the time to buy ramen, water, beer, snacks, etc... and to play cards, drink, smoke, spit, etc...

got you dude

i ended up talking to this couple for like half an hour.  He's a truck driver so that's why he's so tan and her boss is korean so she likes korean people.  I was amazed how much mandarin i remembered, enough to have a super basic conversation with this couple.

they line a bunch of boats next to each other whenever they dock so you end up passing through 3 or 4 other boats to get to yours.  Maybe they are the other boats in the tour company's fleet?  seemed like there were the same boats following us and docking with us the whole time.

i really lucked out because no one booked the other bed in my room so i had the whole room to myself the whole time.  later the universe would correct this by making me take the most dangerous and sh!tty bus ride of my life for 5 hrs.

the kitchen.  i never got to order any of the food because its only open from a certain time in the morning and night and i always missed it.

the main galley, is that what its called?

that little closet is someone's room apparently.  She was in there sewing something.

looks like the command center.  probs not supposed to be in here but we didn't leave for like an hr so i explored everywhere.

majong tables on the top deck.

boat map

i like these huge stainless steel water things.  there's boiling water available and everyone uses it for drinking, ramen, tea, etc...

dinner time for me.  that was nice of them to say good night.  At this point i'm super excited and don't even want to sleep and just want to watch boats passing in the night out the window of my own private room.  Can you believe it?  I'm floating on the Yangtze river in my own room!  We made a stop in the middle of the night to see some temple or something but i didn't go.  there were only a few things i got off the boat to see because the rest are just touristy places that cost money.  probably could have done more research but oh well.  Am I bummed that I ended up on a cruise with all old people and only one foreign guy and the rest chinese and no young hot females?  No, I kind of liked talking to the old folks and everyone being chilled out.