The Cruise

The Yangtze Three Gorges Cruise

After our Jiuzhai Valley National Park Trip, which last three days, it was time to go to our next and final destination.

At the mean time, we saw a lot of the local sceneries, sampled a lot of local staples, bought a few souvenirs, and bargained with a few local ladies, some were fairly aggressive, some tugged at your shirt sleeve, saying she hadn’t had a sale for two days.

A lot of this stuff we bought, no doubts were made by local artisans, but a nagging doubts at the back of my head, may be they were all made in Chengdu or Chong Qing. This town next biggest city.

Central Government poured a lot of financial resources into this self governed region, yes, a lot of houses were flying the Chinese National flags, but I don’t know if it shows national pride or for other purposes.

Lots of vendors, no beggars, kids on the way to school, all spoke mandarin when they interacted with visitors. Kids did not wear the traditional clothes as I observed. Older folks did.

I was told, unmarried ladies will display/wear a lot of her family silver heirlooms on them during traditional festivities, so if a man is single, available, presentable (that depends on how the lady looks at you). By all mean, sauntering around the country square, you might meet your mate of your life, if you are the “material boy” type, check out her silverwares first!

Sorry, I am regurgitating here, send me a comment if you want to know something in detail, my little computer between my eyeballs withhold a fair bit of information, all you need to do is click “more”. 

We flew in Chong Qing in the afternoon rush hour; this city carries my name sake (My Chinese name is also -重慶 – Chung Hing.
The airport is about 11kms from downtown – the old town where we stayed. Chong Qing is mountainous by nature, we booked a hotel by coincidence was also called Chong King Hotel. The hotel by the look of it, years ago, probably has a very commanding view of the Yangtze River and her bank. Today unfortunately I saw the high rises across the street.
Our group had shrunk from nine to seven, because a couple had other family obligations and dropped out after Jiuzhai Valley National Park.
This region is very famous for their spicy hot pots, unfortunately out of the seven people; only two of us can take and love spicy stuff. So spicy is out, non spicy is in. 
After settled in, we walked around the neighborhood, found a hotpot place, ordered a bunch of food with non spicy soup stock, which made all of us happy at last.

Eating out in Chinese big cities took a bit of practice and common senses, a few days ago in Chengdu, S. and I scouted out a few places first before the rest of the group walked in. Scouting out is a good practice for strangers like us. One place we checked out looked very classy, dark, plush carpet, and some 60’s music was on softly, no, the music was not Chinese, and it was Moon River – Andy Williams’ Moon River!

No, we did not pick that one. That night, we picked one across the street, with slippery floors, people talked loud, smoking when they finished, the toilet stank, but it saved us a bunch of money.

The restaurant was called “A Bunch of Bones” (一把骨酒樓)! Its specialty was bones, huge bones with lots of marrows; you would have to use thin disposable gloves and a large straw to suck the marrow out from the bones. S. commented that the guard dogs in his factory would have a field day if it was there. 

Anyways, back to Chong Qing, a few thousand kilometers away, we came upon a fourth floor walk up with elevators and a spectacular view of the Yangtze. Food was good, and price was reasonable, and service was prompt. Everyone went back to their hotel satisfied.

As much as I griped about my fellow countrymen’s public etiquettes, in the evenings you would neighborhood people gathered together in a small park dancing to the tunes from boom boxes – music could be periodical, modern, or others, but I didn’t hear any western. The participants were largely women, occasionally a few men. I think it was very neighborly and it certainly promotes good will and understanding. I see this phenomenon in HK now. I think it is very nice.

Anyways, the cruise did not start until next day in the evening, so we were a fair bit relaxed, did some supermarket shopping. I love peanuts, in this region there was a brand of spicy peanuts I particular like. It was called 麻辣花生 in Chinese, it came in different names and packages, they can be so spicy, it numbs your taste buds. Goes with cold beer.

Tomorrow did come and went, as the afternoon rush hours approached, the seven of us gather outside the hotel for two cabs. From what the hotel staff told us, the #3 Pier which the cruise ship supposed to be waiting was not far at all. May be a twenty minute walk – downhill adventure, trouble was, some of us have a rather large suit case, and it would be a challenge to roll downhill.

So taking a cab would be the only solution, two cabs in our case. Trouble was we got dropped off at two different locations. My cab – the first cab got dropped off – as we later found out – the front entrance of #3 Piers – the correct entrance with X-ray scanner and all. The second cab – Our group leader S.’s cab somehow, was dropped off right at the river bank not far from the Victoria Salina.

We had two local cell phones; we knew we were that far from each other, trouble was between the two separated groups, we had one medium sized luggage, and a super sized luggage in the other group. I was somewhat disappointed that the two groups were separated; the tickets or receipts were with out group leader S.
As he was trying to sort out how to get on board – rather where and what the boarding procedures was, me and Dr. T were trying to confirm where exactly was the entrance gate.

Pier officials were no help, they were doing their chit chat, and I didn’t see any Victoria Cruse Ship Official waving any welcome flags neither. To make a long story short, P. who was with our group volunteered to walk down the hill side to where the ship was docked to find out where exactly S. and his little group was, and the boarding details.

P. and his wife apparently had a little stroll in the morning down the pier side and knew exactly where the boat was, and so it would not be a problem to come back for us if we – the group who waited at the entrance gate.

Twenty minutes later, as I was going to make a call to find out what the progress was, I saw P. and S. lugging the belongings up the hundred steps up my way. The entrance way after all was at this building on street level.

As my bag passed through the X-ray scanner, I happened to glance back at the screen, what a disappointment! You can not really see what was in travelers’ bags; the screen badly needed a replacement.

After all the bags were through the machine, we turned around, then saw three young ladies who were holding flags on their laps, chatting amongst themselves.
We were then lead to a cable tram car with our luggage, the cable car lowered us onto the dock level, passed through some dockside platform, then onto Victoria Salina.

I learned something that night, we paid on board ship. 

And we finally got on the ship, the cruise will start in an hour!

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