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Chinese Yangtze River full of contrasts


Our holiday trip to China included a five day cruise over the Yangtze River. This incredible water flow with its rich history is the third largest river in the world.

We were a bit worried that it might be a very touristic affair. However, everyday we were surprised to find our guide explaining the good and the bad of this 6.300 km river, which starts on the glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and ends in Shanghai.

The river is full of contrasts. We passed hundreds of ships that are transporting massive amounts of sand out of the river; the sand is needed for the exploding construction business all over China. 

We saw dilapidated boots with fisher men and women. And boats extremely heavily loaded. We passed cities populated with more than 31 million people. For us Canadians it means the entire population of Canada all in one city!

Boat loaded

As much as the landscape reminded us a lot of our home province of British Columbia, it is full of surprises. 

Ship yards with ships laying on large balloons just to be pushed into the river when finished. 

Newly built cities but also medieval places that go back thousands of years.

One of the many highlights of the cruise are the Pagodas. One in particular caught our interest. The Shibaozhai Pagoda now nestled on a small island in the river, but in reality it is located on top of a mountain!

The building of the Three Gorges Dam made the river rise 110 meters. Just imagine an entire city that was on the foot of this mountain was flooded to build this Dam and this city is now located under water.

5Locks at 3GDam

To get through the Three Gorges Dam you need to go through five locks. Each lock takes about 45 minutes for the ships to enter and move to the next slot.

It’s a fascinating site to see.

It is even more amazing that during the entire three and a half hour process you hardly see any people operating the intricacies of opening and closing of the slots.

3 Gorges Dam1

The Three Gorges Dam is very impressive. Four million people had to be re-located to construct this Dam. It is the largest electric energy project, mainly for the City of Shanghai. Some farmers stayed and are working the land high up on the banks of the river but most of the farmers moved to the cities.

In recent years, the river has suffered from industrial pollution, agricultural run-off, siltation and loss of wetland and lakes, which exacerbates seasonal flooding. Some sections of the river are now protected as nature reserves.

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