Today I began my Private Tour to China’s Yangtze River with China Odyssey Tours. My tour guide was waiting for me when I arrived at the airport. She took me to my own personal car, and driver. She took me to the Chongqing Holiday Inn, a four star hotel. Everybody here speaks really good English, which is a huge relief. I was really concerned about the language barrier. After a rest, I went to have Chongqing’s famous hot pot. Hot pot is a kind of fondue. It consists of a divided pot. The larger section of the pot is filled with a spicy oil and the other part is filled with a broth. The food was so good, and it was wonderfully spicy. After, Violet took me to the Chongqing Guild house. A Guild house is kind of like a mix between a lodge hall, and a union headquarters. It is a huge complex of courtyards, parlors, temples, and opera stages. It was a really cool place. After, the tour of the Guild hall, she took me to a tea house. It was conveniently located across the street from the Guild hall, and was built in a traditional Chinese style. Inside, they showed me different types of tea. The girls who were wearing traditional style clothing showed me the Chinese tea ceremony. For dinner I was taken to another restaurant that specialized in Chongqing local cuisine. We sat on a huge balcony on the third floor overlooking the Yangtze River. The weather was beautiful. After dinner, I returned to my hotel. Tomorrow, I will visit some more sites in Chongqing until I am taken to my boat for my Yangtze River Cruise.
I woke up early, and went down to the hotel’s restaurant for the breakfast buffet. At 9:00 Violet met me and took me to the CiQi Kou ancient city streets. It is an area in Chongqing City which still has its Ming and Qing Dynasty houses and shops. We walked down the ancient cobblestone streets. There were many different shops selling everything from local snacks, and candies to silk clothing, and scarves. The ancient shops were very pretty. After we visited the ancient city streets, we went to the Eling Park. It was a really pretty park. The highest point in the park is actually the highest point in Chongqing City,. The park is filled with trees, flowers, beautiful rocks. At the top of the parks peak sits a pagoda built in the 1980’s. After the park, we went to lunch. We stopped at a local restaurant and had a variety of wonderfully spicy dishes. I really love the food here! We then headed to the Chongqing Zoo. It is a very large zoo. We then headed to another restaurant for dinner. Again, it was a large selection of amazing foods. I never had the same dish twice. Each one was really wonderful. I think I will miss the foods of China most when I return home. We then went to board my ship. My China Regal Cruise ship is the Princess Sheena. It is huge. It can hold over 300 people. I was welcomed onboard by a live band, and then I was taken to my cabin. After settling into my room, and a quick shower, I went to the music bar. The bar had a number of Westerners. I met a couple of Americans, and a couple from Wales. It was very nice.
This morning I was wakened by music being piped into my room. This morning the ship had a Taiji class. It was really interesting. After, I went to breakfast. It was quite a spread. It was buffet style. It was a combination of Western and Chinese food. After breakfast, there was a Traditional Chinese Medicine demonstration by the ship’s doctor. After that, a woman came out to talk about Chinese Herbal Facial Demonstration. I listened to a little bit and thought if I was considering getting a facial, it would have been really interesting. After, I went down to lunch. I was surprised at the variety, and quality of it. In the afternoon, we went to Fengdu “Ghost City”. It was really interesting. Each temple on the mountain was dedicated to China’s Ghost Culture. In the evening, the ships had a show called “Sheena Follies”. It consisted of songs, and dances performed by the ship’s crew members. After the performance, I went to the bar. After, I headed back to my room, where I am now, and took a shower.
I woke up early this morning, because we were going to pass through the first of the three gorges. We all met on the observation deck, and our tour guide told us what we saw. The gorges were quite beautiful as they rose up on either side of the boat. The rock formations and rock patterns were amazing. After breakfast we passed through the second gorge known as Wu Gorge. After, we went out for our second excursion. We went to a place called Shennong Stream. Our boat docked and we transferred to a smaller boat. When we reached a junction in the river, we docked, and were transferred to small wooden boats called pea pod boats. They are manned by a crew of 5. Our guide talked about the local minority groups, and the different gorges, and trees we saw. She was really knowledgeable and told great stories. When we turned around to head back, the guide told us about the local Tuziang people’s love for singing. To express their love for each other, they would sing to each other. After our return to the ship, the ship set said and entered the Three Gorges Dam Ship Lock,. It is HUGE!!! While we were in the locks, the crew had another party for us. It was a lot of fun. After the boat got through the locks, it docked near the Three Gorges Dam. After we docked, I called my wife, who I miss terribly.
I woke up early today and went down to breakfast. After breakfast, we disembarked to visit the Three Gorges Dam. We went to an area overlooking the back of the dam. I took a lot of photos. It was a little foggy around the dam, and it made for some cool photos. We then went to the area overlooking the front of the dam. It is so tall! From there, I could not only see the dam, but the surrounding areas. We then boarded our ship, and passed through the Xiling Gorge. This gorge was the most beautiful because the water level had not been raised because it is located in front of the dam. We could see many small villages and farms along the river banks. After riding through the Xiling Gorge, we then headed to the Gezhou Dam, which is another large dam on the Yangtze River. We then headed to Yichang City, where we docked. Tomorrow, we will board a bus to Wuhan. I then went to another performance done by some of the crew members. It was an introduction to Chinese Folk Dances. The crew introduced us to the different minority groups, and the clothing that they wear. In the evening, I went to eat dinner. They pulled out all the stops for this last dinner. It was fantastic! After dinner, we had a farewell show. It was a performance by crew members, and guests. I later headed down to dinner. After dinner I came back to my cabin to get some sleep.
This morning we had a wonderful breakfast. After breakfast, we disembarked to head to our bus to Wuhan. My personal guide Harry was waiting for me outside the bus with my own private car. I was then driven to the Holiday Inn Tian An Wuhan. It was a very nice place with a huge lobby. After a rest, we headed to the Yellow Crane Tower, the symbol of the city. Our driver took us to the entrance. The Yellow crane tower is the centerpiece of a huge park area located on Snake Mountain. The park complex is really big, and really beautiful! The park has many different little pavilions, and buildings nestled on the mountain. Each building seems to have its own pond, or stream, and is filled with flowering trees, and beautiful bamboos. I really enjoyed it. After the Yellow Crane Tower I went to dinner with Harry. We had local food. After dinner, I went back to my room to go to sleep.
This morning I went to the hotel’s buffet breakfast. It was really fantastic! After breakfast, I met Harry in the lobby to go to the Hubei Provincial Museum. The museum had opened in November of 2007, so was brand new. The museum itself is very modern in design, but has Chinese elements to it. Each floor of the main building has four to six permanent exhibition halls. The exhibits themselves were unbelievable, and the layout of them was some of the best I have ever seen anywhere in the world. The displays were very well lit, and each artifact was labeled in Chinese, English, and Korean. The most impressive part of the museum was the exhibits on several tombs found in Hubei Province. After we left the museum, we went out to lunch at a local restaurant, and headed off to the airport for my flight to Beijing, and then back to Chicago.