April 25, 2013 – Three Gorges Dam

It is a very gray day when we get up today.  It is not the weather. It is the pollution. During breakfast we pass a town with factories and coal powered plants lining the river. Run off from these industries pour into the river. I step outside. The smell is overpowering.  This afternoon’s activity is to go see the outside of the dam. I am opting out. I am afraid to breathe the air outside. I think I shall shelter in place and let John go and take pictures. I schedule a foot massage for the afternoon.

Smoggy air along the river west of Yueyang
Smoggy air along the river west of Yueyang

 
Our first activity of the day is a lecture on the Three Gorges Dam. Daniel Peng, the program director, is pretty frank about the hazards and risks in building such an enormous project.  He also says there has been an ongoing debate as to whether the costs associated with the dam are worth it. We have been surprised about how frank all the tour guides have been.  Daniel even refers to some of the Mao era as a disaster.
 
Next up, tea ceremony.   The different types of tea are explained to us, the last one is called dark tea and it comes in a solid block. They carve it into shapes and put it in their tea pots.  The tea ceremony is a lot of rinsing and waving one’s teacup around.
Tea ceremony
Tea ceremony

I have a bunch of pictures of the boat going through the Yichang lock. Since they are between the tea ceremony and the Three Gorges Dam pictures, I guess we must have done it sometime today.

The ship sails into a lock where there are already two boats waiting. We are then joined by two other barges. I am surprised that they could fit all these boats in such a small space. We start off very low in the lock and as the lock fills we are raised quite a distance.

The ship enters the Yichang lock
The ship enters the Yichang lock

Mary contemplating the lock
Mary contemplating the lock

Closing the lock
Closing the lock

Afterwards we sail out into a very different looking area. The air and the water are much cleaner. There is terrain and some beauty to the area.
Landscape past the Yichang lock
Landscape past the Yichang lock

But of course there is a power plant belching pollutants into the air
But of course there is a power plant belching pollutants into the air

We have lunch and most people head off to see the dam.

Overview of the Three Gorges Dam
Overview of the Three Gorges Dam

Dam John
Dam John

Model of the dam
Model of the dam

I opt to stay behind for a little quiet time and a foot massage.  One of the other women has been raving about how good it feels.  Mandy, my masseuse, starts by washing my feet in rose petals.  Then she starts squishing just above my knees.  It hurts so much that I have to tell her to stop.  She rubs and slaps my feet. She digs her fingers into every sensitive spot on my foot .  This is probably the most painful thing that I have ever agreed to.  I lie on the table trying not to writhe in pain and watch the clock praying for the 45 minutes to go by quickly.  Finally it is over.  I now have little bruises on my feet and legs.
 
John and the others come back while I am sitting in the bar consoling myself with a glass of wine and a dish of peanuts. We are really glad that we ended up buying the wine package. A lot of the wine is about $20 a glass.  I know we have made good use of the package. We listen to a talk on what’s coming up tomorrow, have a pleasant though tasteless dinner, watch our companions lose at bingo, and retire on the early side.
 
Tonight the boat will traverse the 5 locks of the Three Gorges Dam.

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