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The only non-Chinese person on a cruise

First thing on Saturday, I went to a small old fashioned town in Chongqing, with lots of vendors and shops-I actually enjoyed this, but had to return at 1:30 to be picked up for a river cruise of the Yangtze river.

I was picked up from the hostel by a guy in a small car. I had a tag around my neck so I wouldn't get lost, as the whole tour was in Chinese. I did Chinese because it is less expensive and because it worked within my time constraints. The driver from the hostel took me on a 20 minute drive, and put me on the bus with the tag around my tag, full of mostly older Chinese folks (I was the only Caucasion). Not unlike, when I was little and flying to Florida-I was given a button since I was an unaccompanied child.

I was told it was two hours to the first port-it was actually a six hour drive to where we picked up the ship. With three breaks along the way, two to get food and one for the driver to fill up. On the bus, I paid for meals on board (5 meals for $15.00). At one of the rest areas, i met Jim, who happened to be on my room. Jim was getting his MBA at a university near Hong Kong, and was a handy person to know because he spoke a little English, so he was my savior, as all the announcement we're in Chinese and he did the translating.

At roughly 8:00, the bus arrived in Wanghou, according to the old 2003 version of Lonely Planet a big town-but this was definitely a city, with many skyscrapers and bridges.

The boat was small, and left at 8:00 pm. One stevador carried my bag to the ship and didn't ask me and then demanded payment-I Gave him half of what he wanted.
I went to the room, which was for 4 with 2 bunk beds, and was tiny. The other set of bunk beds was taken by a man and wife. The room was crowded. There is a small, disgusting bathroom. The whole boat looks like it has seen better days. There are no deck chairs, just stools to sit on. And everything is extra. I paid $6.00 for tea and to get the privilage of watching the boat sail away from the upper deck.
Then I went to dinner. Dinner was served in the dining room, on metal trays (just like prison). The food resembled slop, consisting of bland vegetables, rice, and meat. I learned many of the Chinese folks didn't like the food either.

I went to bed at 10:00 pm, only to wake up a few hours later.
The first port was at 12:00 am. hundreds of Chinese people got off the ship at midnight to go to the tomb of a founder, the Zheng Fi temple.which was magnificent. which was also a emporer. We climbed the steps, and saw the vases. I was wondering how all these old folks had energy to climb the stairs at midnight. Along the way out, venders sold all sorts of food, including full meals of pork-i was wondering who ate that late.
I went back to bed after returnig. Chinese music came piping through the room loudspeaker at 6:00 am, plus an announcment, which I later learned the first gorge was coming up in 15 minutes. To be up at 6:00 am trying to go use a small bathroom around with 3 other people made me question the wisdom of taking this cruise. Anyway, I put off a shower to hurry up outside, and I saw the gorges approaching-beautiful cliffs on both sides.
After 1/2 an hour or so of looking, I went back to the room to take a shower, and then back to the dining room for more slop. This time, a bowl of watery rice, an egg, and a strange spongy roll. Shortly after the boat docked, and I went on the first tour-getting on another boat to look at smaller gorges. While an annoying voice on the loudspeaker kept taking, the scenery was magnificent, even if I didn't know what I was looking at. There we're signs of various gorges, and the cliffs we're breathtaking. Then we got to a pier, and got to an even smaller boat, and looked at narrower gorges. Here, A Chinese man asked me how he was-I complemented him on his good English, and learned he actually lives in Texas, and has for 40 years. We got to talking, and he mentioned how he has never been here. A man on the small boat kept making annoucements, and sang a song. A woman from our crowd got up to sing. Once again, great scenery.
Soon, We came back to the bigger boat and back to the ship for more slop for lunch.
Afterward, the ship went back out to port, and I went on another tour, with another smaller boat, again with absolutely gorgeous scenery. We stopped at a small island (I think it was an island), and some singers performed for us.

Afterward, I went back to the boat to sail away. I sat on deck. One woman wanted me to be her personal photographer, and made me take all sets of pictures of her (all clothed-I think she was there with her husband). A lot of people wanted photos with me.


A guy sat with me and bought me beer, (and his wife/girlfriend/friend, joined us on and off) and we had more beer. He kept saying stuff to me in Chinese like “tisyou sutokhah. TISYOU!” Then he kept raising his glass in cheers. He also bought a large bag of peanuts which we shared. (Eating peanuts and drinking beer on deck was the best meal I had on the boat). He even bought a bottle of whisky I believe for each of us., a girl came to clean up and she spoke a little English. The guy wanted my address and phone #. He really evidentially enjoyed our coversation although apart from Cheers, neither of us could understand the other. Shortly after, his wife/girlfriend/friend dragged him away, I guess because he was drunk.
Shortly after, I went back to the room, read and went to bed.

Yesterday, i got up at 6:00 am-once again, all of us we're on ready to sue the bathroom. We we're off the boat at 7:30 am, and pushed on to tour busses. We went to see the house of someone. When I asked the tour guide, she said she didn't know in her limited English (but she must have know because she had a long explanation in Chinese). So it was beautiful, but i had no idea where I was.

We then got on the bus and went to the Three Gorges Dam, the largest dam in the world.

After the damn, we all got on the bus to Yichang City, where we dropped off. I went to lunch with Jim at a shopping mall, and then we shared a cab to the bus station. He made sure I got on the right bus to the airport. I caught the plane to Beijing, and it took approximately 2 1/2 hours to get to the city.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:20 Archived in China

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