July 17, 2012
At breakfast, we get our last glimpse of the mighty Yangtze and prepare to leave the ship. The night before, the wait staff put on a terrific show with karaoke, dances, the Macarena and line dancing with the crew. It was great fun. If you’ve ever been on a cruise before, tipping is done by putting the money in an envelope. Vicki warns us not to turn our tips in to the desk as instructed. Give them directly to your servers and she handed us two envelopes instead of one. She told us the management skims the tips and dispenses a small portion to the staff. Thank you Vicki! We did as we were told. Our waiter actually broke down in tears when Michal and I gave him his tip. He thanked us over and over again, though he could hardly talk through his tears.
After breakfast, we leave the ship for good and we take a bus to the largest dam in the world.
The air quality this day is very bad. This dam has no fish ladder. Farmers below the dam love it because the sturgeon get 3 feet long and they can’t travel any farther upstream. Of course, the people above the dam hate it.Not such a wise decision for a country where people are always hungry.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped and my partner takes my picture. I’m remembering reading in the 1990′s from the magazine, China Reconstructs, about the plans to remove over a million families from the River Valley. And, of the first pour with faulty concrete. I never read where they repoured or replaced that concrete. What a bad start. I wondered then how this is going to turn out?
There is a huge overlook structure and we climb it to look down over the dam.
In our county, I helped videotape the building of Spicer Dam, and it surprised me not to see trucks and heavy equipment churning away, waiting in line to dump their gravel or pick up dirt to be moved. The scene below showed very little activity though Vicki assured us it was a work day.
On this day, they were testing the locks with three barges waiting to be lowered.
Two barges can fit in the lock side by side. The project as you can imagine is immense. The dam will generate millions of megawatts of electricity but only provide 5% of China’s electrical needs.
I was glad I came though it wasn’t my favorite thing to see. We walked much of the grounds, visited the visitor’s center and viewed a table sized mock-up of what the project will look like when completely finished. A picture of the completed dam is visible on the Wikipedia site below.
And, now, in 2012, the project is still controversial. You can read a short article in the New York Times at this link where China admits to some problems with the dam. Pollution, placing displaced people in the job market, and controlling water flows inadequately, etc.
More seriously, the dam has silt problems, has caused serious land slides, it is blamed rightly or wrongly for seismic activity that contributed to the earthquake landslide that killed 87,000 people. This long article from Wikipedia gives much statistical and environmental information about the dam.
It started with controversy, and it is still a controversial project. It hasn’t passed the test of time-yet! The dam is as wide as the Golden Gate Bridge and 600 feet tall. It backs up water into a 244 square mile lake. If it ever gives way…