Posts Tagged With: cruise ship

CRUISE THE YANGTZE RIVER

Our first night aboard our Victoria Cruise Ship, we were given a champagne reception and attended a wonderful fashion show after dinner.

We think of  them as costumes, but we are reminded that each garment was the normal attire for Chinese citizens of the aristocracy during the eleven Dynasties represented.

The various models danced and sang period pieces from the particular dynasty they represented.

Our own puritan ancestors were pretty stodgy dudes by comparison. Learning about the various periods as the colorful fashion show proceeded, via a narrator with impeccable English…wow!  What a gig!

The ship carries us upstream from Chongqing (pronounced shawn-keen) to Yichan, (e-shan.) There is a certain amount of dead time aboard a cruise and we have tai chi lessons after breakfast and view an acupuncture demonstration as we float along. Then, we get our first view of a sampan. Not the old type of sampan but a modern one with a motor.

The Yangtze is a highway moving raw materials to various cities over hundreds of miles.

The Chinese call this Bye-Bye Bridge, because it will soon be underwater.  I wanted to see the famous river and the three gorges before they were inundated by water from the dam.

Families here have farmed the steep sides of the Yangtze for hundred’s of years. They don’t understand why the government is flooding them out and forcing them to evacuate from all they’ve ever known. They have never had electricity and they must sacrifice for the people who will benefit from the electricity this dam will produce.

This farmer could at one time walk to his neighbor’s farm. Then he could boat to his neighbor’s farm. Now his neighbor is underwater and his own buildings are partially flooded. Many older people hate it and hang on to all they’ve ever known for as long as they can.  One Chinese worker aboard ship loves it.  She has a new apartment in Wuhan  (oohan) City where she has more space. She now lives with three people in 120 square meters. In her old house she lived with an extended  family of eight in 400 square meters. She has electricity and, she can own her apartment.

These caves, once unreachable from the river , were the refuge of Japanese soldiers during WWII. They escaped to these caves and lived for years before they were discovered. Now, our guide marvels that you can actually see into them.  There are ancient bodies buried in some of the caves from an unknown past as well.

The steep canyon still has some beauty left and I’m grateful to have had a chance to see it before it disappears. To their credit, the Chinese government has taken extensive pictures of the canyon before the flooding began so people can see what it was once like.

As you look up into the clouds, its hard to imagine that most of this beautiful canyon will be underwater very soon.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TANG DYNASTY TEMPLE OF HELL.

The second phase of our trip to China in October of 2006 began with an early morning flight to the industrial city of Chong Quing.  We walked from the landing (visible in the distance) across this pontoon bridge, settled our luggage aboard and then walked back across the pontoons to visit the Hell Pagoda from the Tang Dynasty.

First we climbed 200 stairs up the side of a mountain. The view of our landing below in the misty rain was exhilarating after our breathless climb. .

As we neared the temple, tortured statues lined the steps.

There was about  30 of them and their meaning was unclear.

Our guide explained that this old Tang Temple is backwards from normal for modern Chinese. Almost like Christianity, you suffer for bad behavior and are re-incarnated to a higher plane for good behavior.  On our bridge to the temple grounds above, one side is for women, the other for men, unusual.

Even the colors here are different, blue and gold instead of the preferred and popular red and gold. The roof is guarded by a dragon, though.

The main pagoda has a wild geese  for the roof  decoration, in remembrance of the hungry monk at the Little Wildgoose Pagoda.   A couple of smaller pagodas had dragons.

Mark Maurur from our group tried balancing the Xing Chen Stone. The bottom stone weighs about 200 pounds, the top stone about 90 pounds. If you are able to balance it, it will cure you of heart problems the legend claims.

Mark  succeeded, but no one else attempted. I guess they weren’t worried about heart problems. The cure legend is unclear. Does it cure heart disease?  Or the misery of lost love?

All of us attempted the balancing ball. A perfectly round ball on a perfectly flat surface. If you can maintain balance for nine seconds, you will have a long life. I guess we are all destined to die young.

In  the Hell Temple, you come across  things that are twisted and not uniform so different from the ying and yang of balance in Chinese culture.

In the temple dungeon was a ghastly parade of fearful statues behind bars, a warning to behave or else. The Tang Dynasty incorporated fear in their religion to elicit good behaviors, as most religions do. Modern Buddhism encourages good deeds while reminding you of your human weaknesses, rather than fear of punishment, if I understand it correctly.

On the way back down the hill, I was tempted to give this young child a pat.  It was the only friendly looking statue in the bunch.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.