Yangtse River Cruise ????

Feb 11th, 2002, 11:15 AM
  #1  
michelle
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Yangtse River Cruise ????

Is the Yangtse River a must see if you visit China? I know all about the flooding and things changing forever. But did you really enjoy it?
 
Feb 28th, 2002, 02:57 AM
  #2  
Margot
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Hello Michelle, We have done the Yangtze twice now and would definitely use a boat like the East Queen or King (the one Bill Gates has been on). The stop at the dam site was very interesting and gives you an idea of the immensity of the project. One other side trip is great--the Shennong Stream where the trekkers push, pull, and punt you up the stream. If you like to sail it's a nice way to travel for a few days.
 
Feb 28th, 2002, 05:05 AM
  #3  
xxx
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But is really a must-see? Or is the draw that it won't be possible anymore soon?
 
Feb 28th, 2002, 08:27 AM
  #4  
Peter N-H
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The Yangtze River cruise is a triumph of hope and marketing over experience, and should hardly be included on the list of things to do of those who only have a few weeks in China.

It's pleasant enough to spend a few days being waited on hand and foot in relative peace if you've been travelling for a long time in China and need a break from the country's interminable clamour (this assumes, of course, you take a foreigner cruise ship and not a regular boat). But it doesn't have much to do with real China.

The water of the river is heavily polluted, and the banks are lined in many places with factories too hideous to describe. The rising of the waters (not complete for several years yet) will actually improve the landscape by submerging these. The air is grey, with a narrow strip of blue over the centre of the river where the wind is strongest. Guides point out rocks named for animals or people to whom they bear a remarkable dissimilarity. Coffins suspended from the cliffside are too far away to see--the rising of the waters will bring them a little nearer. The Shennong stream trip is a completely made-for-tourists 'adventure' in which farmers earn a little extra cash by dressing up (or down, perhaps--to little more than a loin cloth) to drag boats up a small tributary.

Much is pleasant enough; nothing is spectacular. The rising of the waters will not, in fact, significantly change that.

There was a time when boating up the Yangtze was genuinely exciting and dangerous; when shallow drafted boats had to be hauled up long stretches by trackers using thread-like paths cut into the cliff face. The progress of making river travel more ordinary was begun a century ago, with the British blowing up dangerous rocks and dredging sections of the river. It has always been a transportation artery, and it's this which has brought Victorian-era industry to the water's edge in many places.

There are many more important things to do in China for the visitor with only a few weeks (in addition to the more obvious destinations): the old merchants' mansions and wooden temples of southern Shanxi Province, the caves at Dunhuang, the minority villages in the lush mountains of Yunnan and Guizhou Provinces, the Central Asian market towns of Xinjiang, the imperial resort at Chengde, the mansion and temple of Confucius at Qufu, the canal villages of Zhejiang and Jiangxi, the Potala Palace of Lhasa and outlying Tibetan monasteries in southern Gansu and northeast Qinghai, the country routes between Yunnan and Sichuan, and between Sichuan and Gansu, etc. etc.

But chacun ˆ son gožt.

Peter Neville-Hadley
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
 
Feb 28th, 2002, 01:29 PM
  #5  
Bill A
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To Peter M-H

I enjoyed your info. I am planning a first trip to China for 2 1/2 weeks. I had the same idea about the cruise and I'm glad you confirmed it. How would you spend the time for a first trip to China. I have alresdy been to Hong Kong twice. Thanks in advance.
 
Feb 28th, 2002, 11:53 PM
  #6  
xxx
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Thanks, Peter. That's just what I was wondering. Thanks also for your walking guide!
 
Mar 1st, 2002, 01:25 PM
  #7  
Peter N-H
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I think an ideal first trip to China (in reply to Bill A--but someone might want to make this a fresh topic heading) contains both some time in the major cities and seeing sights for which China is justly world-renowned, and some time in the countryside. After all, around 70% of Chinese still live in the country, and so country life is more typical of real life, and less Westernized than city life.

But it's difficult to recommend any particular route without knowing a great deal about the level of comfort required, budget, and so on.

I suppose, however, five to seven days in Beijing (allowing for two days of trips outside the city), followed by three to four days in Xi'an, and a few days in Yunnan Province, might be a good mix. Certainly this would include big cities, some of the great sights (Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors), some countryside (trips out of Beijing and Xi'an), and some minority areas with quite a different flavour (in Yunnan, south of Kunming to Xishuang Banna, or northwest to Dali and Lijiang or neighbouring villages not on the tourist trail yet). None of this would be very challenging to arrange.

For trips out of Beijing I'd suggest the Western or Eastern Qing Tombs, or nearer at hand (can be done in a half day) the Milu Deer Park or the Marco Polo Bridge. Out of Xi'an, in addition to the visit to the Warriors, there are several pleasant rural temples which can be reached by public bus; Xingjiao Si, for instance, where the remains of the travelling monk Xuan Zang now lie; or Xianyang where the small museum has an exhibition of miniature warriors from another tomb.

With two-and-a-half weeks there would also probably be time for a stop at Pingyao, still little-visited, and about halfway between Beijing and Xi'an, which is a fairly well-preserved (meaning dilapidated rather than actively destroyed) walled city with many fine old mansions. In the countryside round about further vast multi-courtyarded mansions speak of the former wealth of the area, which say the beginnings of the Chinese banking system. Pingyao can be reached by taking a comfortable express bus from Beijing's Lizeqiao Bus Station (if your guide book doesn't have this, then buy another) in about six hours to Taiyuan (much faster than the train) and then local aircon minibus.

That's something to start with, perhaps...

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
 

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