John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Monday 16 June 2014

[Sunday 15 June 2014]

Yangtze River cruise
Day 5, Yangtze River Cruise (B/L/D)
The cruise will set sail to reach your first shore excursion to the Three Gorges Dam itself and the Five Stage Ship Lock — a giant ship elevator capable of lifting a 14,000 ton passenger liner!
In the afternoon you’ll sail past the Xiling Gorge, the largest and most famous of the Three Gorges.

Day 167 1 Kings 14-15; 1 Corinthians 13
Evidently I was out of bed before 05:51.





Monday 16 June 2014 — 05:51:48
View from the balcony


Monday 16 June 2014 — 05:52:08
View from the balcony


Monday 16 June 2014 — 05:52:22
About to enter the Xiling Gorge

I showered and shaved and went up and out on deck.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 07:09:30
Sampan in the Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 07:14:26
Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 07:17:10
Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 07:17:22
Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 07:18:04
Xiling Gorge

Janet hadn’t slept well, and couldn’t face eating breakfast. All the meals on board were serve-yourself at the buffet. Most people had their meals in the dining room on Deck 2, but the ones in the upgraded cabins were assigned the dining room on Deck 6. I was one of the first to arrive up there. I attempted to sit at one table but one of the passengers, perhaps German, told me that all the seats were taken by their party. I did find another table at which a couple of our people who had by now arrived had sat. Afterwards I went back to the cabin, and at 8.30am Janet and I gathered with the others in the main dining room for the optional “Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour. “The smell of the food turned my stomach,” Janet wrote. Most people there had finished eating so there were free tables at which to sit and wait. We were given boarding cards as we left the boat and boarded a smaller ferry boat to go ashore. Groups of us were each assigned a guide dressed in a light blue embroidered trouser-suit carrying a basket of flowers on her back. It had been a struggle last night to understand Judy’s accent, but our guide’s English this morning — self-taught, she told Janet — required no effort at all.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 08:37:52
Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 08:38:08
Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 08:38:48
Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 08:53:26
Boarding card




Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:10:32
Alighting from the ferry for the “Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour

“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” was a sort of open-air museum with living exhibits illustrating the customs and culture of the minority tribe that used to make its livelihood in that area. After passing between stalls selling souvenirs and fast food (see “10:40:10”, below), we crossed a bridge over to the left side, proceeding up the ravine, later crossing back and returning on the other side to our starting point. We saw courtship customs (typically girls standing or sitting in boats or on bridges being serenaded by their beaux, and in the latter part of the tour an enactment of a wedding), fishing practices (by nets and using cormorants), washing (pounding clothing in water with rods), etc.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:11:48
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:12:00
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:13:02
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour

This is the bridge by which we crossed to the left bank.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:16:18
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:17:26
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:18:44
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:22:22
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:22:36
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:23:44
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:23:52
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:24:48
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:25:02
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:26:38
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:26:58
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:30:28
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:31:54
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:33:10
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:34:28
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:35:22
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour

The structure on the opposite side of the river, below, was where the wedding enactment took place after we crossed over the river higher up and came to it on the way back.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:37:16
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:37:38
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:37:54
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour

There was a vendor selling peanuts to feed the monkeys.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:43:00
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — rhesus macaques


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:43:06
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — rhesus macaques


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:43:18
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — rhesus macaques


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:44:58
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — rhesus macaques


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:47:26
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:51:32
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:52:30
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:55:00
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour

By now it was raining quite heavily. I only had my thin jacket on, and Janet was wearing white trousers that she didn’t want to be spotted with mud. We hadn’t brought an umbrella. Still, I managed to take the photos I wanted without getting rain in the camera. I didn’t get soaked — or if I did I dried out again — apart from my Tetley hat, which became all floppy. And it was hot, so I guess the rain was refreshing. The boardwalk and steps could be quite slippery, though.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:55:22
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 09:56:34
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:03:56
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — cliff-face with cave containing “hanging” coffins


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:04:34
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — “hanging” coffins


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:14:56 Movie screen-capture
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — enactment of a tribal wedding ceremony


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:14:56 Movie screen-capture
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — enactment of a tribal wedding ceremony


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:16:04 Movie screen-capture
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — enactment of a tribal wedding ceremony

During the ceremony the bride threw her bouquet — what would have been a bouquet in a western ceremony; it appeared to be a cloth bundle of some sort. It was caught by one of our Mercury Direct people, so he was enrobed as the bridegroom.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:19:30 Movie screen-capture
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — enactment of a tribal wedding ceremony


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:19:30 Movie screen-capture
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — enactment of a tribal wedding ceremony

After that, the bridesmaids, who had earlier sang and danced, hid their faces, perhaps weeping.


Monday 16 June 2014— 10:20:26 Movie screen-capture
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — enactment of a tribal wedding ceremony


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:20:26 Movie screen-capture
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — enactment of a tribal wedding ceremony

Afterwards, bride and bridegroom were presented on the balcony.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:21:34 Movie screen-capture
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — enactment of a tribal wedding ceremony


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:22:16 Movie screen-capture
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour — enactment of a tribal wedding ceremony


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:28:38
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour

There were more stalls where food was being cooked and sold—


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:30:24
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:30:12
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour

—before we passed between the stalls I mentioned at the beginning and so returned to the ferry.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:40:10
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:42:42
“The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 10:45:26
Boarding the ferry from “The Tribe of the Three Gorges” tour

As we disembarked the ferry I told our guide how good and easy to understand her English was. Once we were all back aboard our ship proceeded on its way. Copied the 53 photos and 7 videos from this morning from the camera to the WD Elements HDD (11:25–11:28). Went out on the balcony and took more photos and videos, with pointed peaks visible and others mist-shrouded. I also videoed a walk-through of the cabin.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 11:46:32
Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 11:55:06
Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 11:55:24
Xiling Gorge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 11:57:12
A walk through our cabin

Janet and I went up for lunch, ca.12:00. Again I found myself trying to join a table and being told by a man, from the Indian Sub-Continent this time, that it was taken. We sat at one of the two tables near the entrance that had started to be occupied by people from our own Mercury Direct party — and I gave a “finger” gesture to the other man at the table that was still empty apart from himself. I made good use of the buffet; Janet just ate her dietary chocolate bars. As always we were served with a comlimentary glass of beer or a soft drink. Because that didn’t include diet cola, Janet ordered one from the bar. This became her practice, though the occasions on the boat were limited by their running out and not replenishing the stock of diet cola. Afterwards, copied the additional 3 photos and 6 videos from the camera to the WD Elements HDD (12:42–12:44). At 1.15pm we gathered as before, this time for the scheduled tour of the Three Gorges Dam. We’d moored at Sandouping. We were divided into “Coach A” and “Coach B” as throughout the holiday (obviously, with different coaches and different drivers in the several locations). There was a local guide from the town, whose name I’ve forgotten; he was on “Coach B” initially and Max on “Coach A”, but they swapped on the way back. His family was included in the 1.3 million people displaced by the building of the dam and relocated in Sandouping. His father used to grow tea, but farming wasn’t possible in these new upland relocations.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 13:31:38
On the coach for the Three Gorges Dam tour


Monday 16 June 2014 — 13:31:38
On the coach for the Three Gorges Dam tour — detail

The coach went over the Xiling suspension bridge and as it entered the Three Gorges Dam site we had to go through security scans in a large building before reboarding the coach. Don’t know what security checking the coach itself was subject to.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 13:50:02
Security at the Three Gorges Dam site

As we passed over the series of ships’ locks the coach stopped for a photo-opportunity for those on the right side; on the way back a similar stop was made for those on the left.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 13:59:08
View from the coach of the ships’ locks

Then we proceeded to the visitor centre on the land between the locks and the dam itself. This former hillside was blown up by the Chinese army. There was a large model of the dam complex, and the guide spoke to us at some length.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:08:26
Model of the dam in the souvenir shop


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:08:34
Model of the dam in the souvenir shop


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:08:44
Model of the dam in the souvenir shop


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:08:52
Model of the dam in the souvenir shop


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:10:24
Model of the dam in the souvenir shop


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:13:06
Model of the dam in the souvenir shop

From there we went by escalators to the top of what remained of the hill, where there was a vantage point for tourists, and an even higher viewing platform above that.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:25:34
Up to the tourist vantage point


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:27:40
Up to the tourist vantage point




Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:34:02
Sign on the entrance to the upper viewing platform


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:35:10
Three Gorges Dam — lower part of the series of five locks


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:35:34
Three Gorges Dam — upper part of the series of five locks


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:37:18
Three Gorges Dam — zoomed-in view of the lower part of the locks showing Xiling Bridge


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:37:48
Decoration on the side of the upper viewing platform


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:42:52
The still-to-be-completed ships’ lift in front of the dam itself


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:50:36
Decoration on the side of the upper viewing platform opposite to “14:37:48”


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:51:54
Book sculpture with details of the Three Gorges Dam


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:51:54
Book sculpture with details of the Three Gorges Dam — straightened-out detail

We were given free time to look around. I in particular wanted to go up the steps for a look from the top of the upper viewing platform.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:57:44
Photos from the upper viewing platform


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:57:52
Photos from the upper viewing platform


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:58:12
Photos from the upper viewing platform


Monday 16 June 2014 — 14:58:46
Photos from the upper viewing platform

When we met up again, we were led down by a longer but less inclined path, which afforded views of the locks and the dam itself. Reaching a level road, we walked to the dam, where there was a little more free time for photos.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 15:13:52
More photos of the Three Gorges Dam estate


Monday 16 June 2014 — 15:14:36
More photos of the Three Gorges Dam estate


Monday 16 June 2014 — 15:19:56
More photos of the Three Gorges Dam estate


Monday 16 June 2014 — 15:20:14
More photos of the Three Gorges Dam estate


Monday 16 June 2014 — 15:20:24
More photos of the Three Gorges Dam estate

A little farther down there were stalls selling souvenirs, topped by another viewing platform. I ascended the steps up this, to get a view of the incomplete ships’ lift and beyond it the dam.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 15:40:44
The dam proper


Monday 16 June 2014 — 15:41:08
The still-to-be-completed ships’ lift


Monday 16 June 2014 — 15:48:02
The dam proper

…On the coach back we stopped at the bridge over the locks again so that those on the left side could get a photo; I on the right side took one in the opposite direction.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 16:01:50
View from the coach in the opposite direction to “13:59:08”

Back on the cruise ship, ca.4.30pm, similarly to on the Nile cruise, we were given hot towels and tea. This happened whenever we came back, and refreshing it was too. We went up to the top deck and had drinks; I had a couple of Tsing Tao beers. I stayed up there when Janet went below.




Monday 16 June 2014 — 16:58:00
On the way to the locks of the Three Gorges Dam


Monday 16 June 2014 — 16:58:10
On the way to the locks of the Three Gorges Dam


Monday 16 June 2014 — 17:10:44
On the way to the locks of the Three Gorges Dam


Monday 16 June 2014 — 17:25:02
On the way to the locks of the Three Gorges Dam


Monday 16 June 2014 — 17:31:16
On the way to the locks of the Three Gorges Dam


Monday 16 June 2014 — 17:46:08
Views aft


Monday 16 June 2014 — 17:46:22
Views aft


Monday 16 June 2014 — 17:47:40
Highly zoomed-in view of one of the mountain-summits in “17:46:22”

Then I returned to the cabin, but went out on the balcony from time to time to check our progress. I didn’t think there’d be room in the first lock for the boats going in before us and ours — I thought we’d have to wait outside — but no, we followed them in.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 18:03:12
Entering the locks

I missed the closing of the lock gates behind us (I’m not sure what I or we were doing; certainly we didn’t attend the “Captain’s Welcome Party” billed for 18:00 in the Yangtze Bar on Deck 5); all I was aware of between “18:03:12” and “18:35:24” was our level rising from the bottom to the top of the lock.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 18:35:24
Entering the locks

Then we entered the next lock. I didn’t get to see those gate close either, because it was time to go for dinner.


Monday 16 June 2014 — 18:48:24
Entering the locks


Monday 16 June 2014 — 18:48:40
Entering the locks


Monday 16 June 2014 — 18:51:42
Entering the locks

This was the first time Janet had availed herself of the buffet. She found the food delicious but “hot”. I too made good and varied use of the buffet. Janet noted that Frank was relatively quiet: “The ‘Gobby Bastard’ was very subdued — he was out-matched tonight.” Ca.7.45pm we returned to the cabin. Copied the latest 48 photos and 13 videos from the camera to the WD Elements HDD (20:09–20:12). Edited a couple of today’s photos (20:18–20:21). Janet noted: “[John] has just got into bed. It’s 9.20pm. I’ll follow very soon.” Then the next day she noted: “Actually, I got into bed and [John] got up! And eventually stayed up till well after midnight.” I edited 61 of today’s photos (21:34–23:35).

[Tuesday 17 June 2014]



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