The morning came early for me, which is just as well as I didn't set my alarm correctly. But my husband makes coffee for us and we sit outside before breakfast and enjoy the scenery. It's starting to clear, thankfully, and I look ahead to the day.
We have entered the first gorge and the ship blew its horn. The echo was stunning. High, mist-shrouded cliffs, sheer bluffs of bared limestone choked in spots by thick vegetation. We see high up homes almost Germanic in design, clinging to the sides. And below, barges chug by. After breakfast, we stopped at a very Chinese appearing port, with a traditional pagoda-like home high above. I see birds of prey cruising the updrafts.
We stop at The Water Village, up the Longjin River, a tiny village of one of the many minorities.
But we are warned that even if you leave the ship with no intentions of visiting the Water Village, you will be charged the fee anyway. It seems unfair, and I wonder why they don't issue you a different lanyard, because each time you disembark, you must wear your room's lanyard.
It reminds me of when we saw the minorities dancing at a park in Beijing. They seem not-so-typically Chinese. Those ones had a Middle Eastern flair, and this village feels almost Tibetan.
We have been told to wear comfortable shoes because we'll be walking, but some chose an easier route. Well, easier for the one man.
The hike takes us over huge square blocks set at the mouth of a small river that feeds the Yangtze. I help an older woman across.
Here, we're treated to a sample of their courting practices. Girls sit in small Chinese junks while boys, dressed in blue, serenade them with flutes.
Or if they know each other better, they can get even closer.
It's quite a hike up the tributary, but we're rewarded with stunning scenery, rich turquoise waters and lush bamboo forests.
Monkeys greet us halfway up, and at the top, a beautiful waterfall.
|Our guide, Tom, feeding a monkey|
High above are small caves and in them, coffins, for these people believe the higher you are buried, the closer you are to heaven.
|Can you see the coffins?|
We enjoy a mock marriage ceremony, before returning to the ship.
This trip was the only optional excursion, but worth the money for the scenery alone. We've often seen black and white watercolour drawings of high cliffs and rich bamboo. I have seen their inspiration.
We pass a market of exotic foods and I ask a young man if I can snap his photo as he tries a fish.
Our main guide, Tom, had warned us it's impossible to get a cell signal, but one man who had a data plan was able to get a good one in the narrow gorge and sent photos home with it.
One the way back to the ship, I take a photo of a Chinese junk and modern barge. A mix of the old and the new.
It's been a full morning, but this afternoon, it's gets even more dramatic. Come back tomorrow for the greatest man made achievement... or the greatest ecological disaster in the world. You decide.