China Travels: Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam (长江三峡与三峡大坝)

Three Gorges, Yangtze River (长江三峡)
Three Gorges, Yangtze River (长江三峡)

The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third longest river in the world. We were on a 5D4N river cruise on the Yangtze River aboard Victoria Jenna.

The cruise was absolutely lovely even though I was forced to totally disconnect from digital life for the entire duration of the cruise and have to actually talk to real people. 🙂

Still, it was really nice to wake up to this every morning on the river cruise:

Three Gorges, Yangtze River (长江三峡)
Three Gorges, Yangtze River (长江三峡)
Three Gorges, Yangtze River (长江三峡)
Three Gorges, Yangtze River (长江三峡)
Three Gorges, Yangtze River (长江三峡)
Three Gorges, Yangtze River (长江三峡)

The peace, tranquility and fresh cold air.

Without any internet/data connection, I didn’t wake up and reach for the phone straightaway to start checking emails, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It was a life that I had long forgotten about. I had enjoyed being unplugged so much that there were days when I forgot to take my phone out from the cabin even. Hahaha.

There are free onshore excursion per full day on board. The first day, we went to visit the massive and controversial Three Gorges Dam.

Three Gorges Dam (三峡大坝)
Three Gorges Dam (三峡大坝)

When I visited the Three Gorges Dam, I had mixed feelings as I was following the progress of its construction and it’s ecological and cultural impacts via the various environmental conservation groups that opposed the projects.

The Three Gorges Dam has no doubt brought about a lot of economic benefits, however, the impact of the amount of culture lost and the irreversible changes made to the ecological system in the area is still yet to be fully understood and felt.

Three Gorges Dam (三峡大坝)
Three Gorges Dam (三峡大坝)

Still, the Three Gorges Dam is an engineering feat to be marvelled at. Call me a geek but there was something really fascinating about going through the 5 ship-locks as we moved from the lower water levels to the higher ones. If you think about the amount of litres of water and Newtons involved, the entire process is very, very fast!

We also visited Shennong Stream (神农溪) which has been dubbed as the Little Three Gorges (小三峡).

Shennong Stream (神农溪,小三峡)
Shennong Stream (神农溪,小三峡)

You can see that the waterway is already kinda narrow from the picture above but imagine this, before the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, the water levels were a good 60 ~ 70 metres lower, making the gorge even narrower than what it is today.

Also, the Tujia Minority Group has the practice of hanging coffins. Spot the coffin in the picture below. 🙂

Shennong Stream (神农溪,小三峡)
Shennong Stream (神农溪,小三峡)

However, as the water has risen so much, one cannot tell how high the Tujia people has to scale up the cliff to place the coffin where it is. One can only imagine. If you want to see how high hanging coffins truly are, Sagada in the Mountainous Region in Luzon Philippines also has this culture. I’m know there are other places where you can see the hanging coffins as well but I can’t remember where they are offhand. Go google. 🙂

Nevertheless, the Yangtze River and Three Gorges are  beautiful and majestic despite losing a fair bit of the true meaning of a gorge from the flooding as a result of the dam construction. Worth a visit.

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