To see more of the gorge canyons, we spent a morning riding on these barges up the Goddess Stream, a tributary feeding into the Yangtze. The water of the Yangtze is horribly polluted, full of floating garbage.
I thought our trip would be just us, but about 35 of these boats filled up with passengers from our ship and all together we headed up the gorge. The canyon got narrower and narrower. There was nothing "pretty" or even striking about the gorge. The vegetation was scrub, no trees to speak of, and none of them memorable. The walls were steep and I'm glad I saw them.
When we got to the end I expected lovely rushing water, tripping over boulders on its way to join the main body of water. Not. There was a floating cinder block toilet for all the boats to use. And next to it, a large floating platform with a bench built all around the edge as seating. As all the boats unloaded, we stood around on the platform (it nearly filled the gorge rock wall to rock wall), they turned on the dance music and everyone started dancing. Like line dancing style. It was the craziest thing. I do not know why we didn't have any warning of what to expect. I thought we were on a nature discovery kind of activity, but apparently it was a "party boat" activity.
So dancing on the river is OK, but fishing is nearly prohibited, well the fish are all dead. There's no wind surfing, canoing, kayaking, ski-boating, etc. etc. Saw one guy at the boat dock bathing in the river. Other than gambling, which also is illegal, I don't know what the Chinese do for fun. Mah-jong? Movies (censored?)
Changes to the River
Our guide on the river talked for most of the trip. When the Yangtze was surveyed and inventoried as part of the dam building process, these holes were discovered. They are burial holes nearly unreachable without special climbing equipment. That's about it. One old guy lives above the water line and refused to leave when the dam was built. They don't seem to want people to live in the remote areas around the river.
The sturgeon are gone, though they built a sturgeon breeding facility. The fresh water porpoises that only lived in the Yangtze are now extinct. Fishing is no longer a viable occupation.
Cruising on the Yangtze
We boarded the Victoria Selena at Chongqing. there were as many Chinese passengers as westerners. The ship was great, the food was wonderful! Square tables, no lazy susan, lasagna! loin roast! salad, fresh crisp salad that was edible.
Although we spent days in China walking among the people, there were few opportunities to talk to anyone. Part of me thinks, that was deliberate--people were reluctant to approach us.
One young man on board, a Chinese man I'll call Pete, approached me secretly and wanted to talk about American, and our gun laws, among other things. We talked for 45 minutes; he spoke good English. Later, I ran into him at the buffet line and started to greet him. He shook his head, passed by, and ignored me. At a second stop, on shore, again we passed and his reaction was the same. I don't know what he wanted, the contact was a mystery.