Finding Myself in China: It is uncertain what caused the following event, but something on the pylon hit one of the windows. The people in the immediate vicinity fled their seats, and as the ship continued reversing, the window buckled and smashed, sending shards of glass everywhere. One man received a cut to his arm, and while not bleeding profusely, nevertheless was bleeding. A young boy was covered in glass, and although unhurt, had to be deftly 'de-glassed.' I felt someone's hand on my back pocket. Always cautious, I was walking with my hands in my pockets, specifically to keep the cloth on the seat of my pants tight. I tightened my grip. When this did not seem to discourage the brazen (and inept) thief, I quickly sidestepped to the left, and left him both surprised and embarrassed. He dropped his head so I could not see his face, and quickly retracted the jacket that had covered his hand to conceal his actions. He disappeared quickly.
Daily Life in China Part 23: YiChang's Three Gorges
by R.P. BenDedek (12:09 PM 1/15/2015 Beijing Time)
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A hazy day, but a photograph of the set of five locks through which one must proceed from YiChang to the Upper Reaches. The Water level goes from 45 meters to 145 meters. There is in fact a separate 6th lock.
Left Frame: A River View Middle Frame: View from inside a lock Right Frame: A bridge linking two mountains. Most of these bridges are new, and connect the mountains and their newly created roadways.
In previous articles I have mentioned my horrible experiences teaching at the Teacher's Summer Camp held in my school and of my trip to PuQi immediately thereafter. Today I want to bring to you some photographs and comments about my Trip to the Three Gorges.
Background to the trip to YiChang.
Although I had wanted to visit PuQi to visit the Catholic Priests, and additionally to take photos for the PuQi Adoptees about whom I had read on the internet, the final motivation for going came from my two friends Tobias and Chen Yang. Were it not for their insistence I may not have gone. When I first mentioned the possibility of going there, they jumped at the chance of seeing the place themselves, and so committed me to the trip. When Chen Yang became insistent on knowing exactly when I would go, I asked him what the rush was, and he informed me that he had an appointment to keep in YiChang. On hearing this, I began to formulate a plan. I asked him if he would allow me to accompany him to Yichang, and asked if he would assist me in locating a hotel. My purpose was that once I knew 'how' to get there and find someplace to stay, I could make my own arrangements to take a boat cruise. He agreed to do this. While we were in PuQi however, his parents decided that they would pay for him to take a cruise with me. And so it came about that the two of us made the trip.
On August 16th, Chen Yang and I boarded a bus in Hong Hu that would take us directly to YiChang, the gateway to the three gorges. We left at about 8am, and the fare from memory, was about 75 yuan. The trip itself was to last about 5 hours. Unfortunately it was a very crowded bus, and because of the general confusion that occurs on buses (and planes) in China, with everyone ignoring their ticketed seat, I got stuck in the far corner of the bus and had no freedom to take photos of the countryside. I did however get to take a few photographs at Jingzhou, by which time a number of passengers had left the bus.
The countryside along the expressway to Jingzhou is quite different to that between Hong Hu and Wuhan, and it is a pity that I could not get many photos. Nevertheless, as you can see below, I did get some as we entered Jingzhou itself. Jingzhou (jing-joe) is a major city in Hubei, and is very modern, and the ancient walls in the photos, date back many centuries to when the city was quite small.
Top Left & Right Ancient Wall and Gateway to the old city of Jingzhou Hubei Province
Above A local shot and Freeway into Jingzhou
After the 'convenience' break at Jingzhou, we continued on for another 3 hours to YiChang, another modern and bustling city, although much smaller than Jingzhou (or so it seemed). It had been arranged for us to be greeted by an aunt who works at the local hospital, but as our timing was off, the meeting did not take place, and we had lunch at the bus station. From there we found our way to the travel agency to pay for our tickets. We were going on a 'Chinese' tour. This meant that we were taking a 'Chinese' tourist boat, not some lavish 'western' tour. Instead of the 2000 yuan and more fee, we paid only a modest 500 yuan each, and despite all the regulations in China that are designed to keep track of the movements of foreigners, the agency neither recorded my name nor took any information from me whatsoever. We left the agency with instructions to be back at 4:50pm, at which time we would be transported to the ship, for a 5:30 pm departure.
Views from the international trade building in the main street of YiChang
After a couple of hours wandering around taking photos, we arrived back at the agency, where we sat until about 5:45 pm before being taken to the ship, which was now scheduled to leave at 6pm. This was the beginning of a three day stint of schedules that never quite made it. From the very beginning, every scheduled event was delayed, including this rescheduled schedule. The 6pm departure became 6:30pm, and that finally and actually became about 7:10pm. We had set off almost 2 hours later than planned, and by this time it was getting reasonably dark. By the time we reached the first 'lock' where we had to park and wait, it was already totally dark, and there was nothing to see.
Top Left Frame The gangway leading to that yellow shed, on the other side of which was our cruise ship. There were 3 ships tied up together and we had to go through the first two to get to ours. Top right is principally of a huge ship which was decked out like a temple. I have no idea what it really was.
Above Night time views of the 'parking bay' at a lock. We had to wait until the previous ships have completed the process of descending (or ascending as the case might be).
Below: Top Left Chen Yang in our room Top Right A view from the back deck looking toward the quay
Above Top left is of the meal room The other is of a group of men who played cards and majiang throughout the entire trip.
The first lock is between YiChang and the set of five that appear in the First Photograph in this article. The boat itself had every necessary amenity one could wish for. We had a twin room (key to lock the door only an extra refundable 20 Yuan); a TV; a thermos of hot water for tea and coffee (provided that you knew you had to bring some - I did!); and a combined Chinese Toilet/Shower big enough to swing a cat, provided you were small enough to extend your arms without touching the walls. The bathroom facilities came with three usual features for this type of cruise. There was Hot Water (provided you could work out which way to turn the handle - because both gave you cold water). There was River water to bathe in (wait till you see the color of it in the photographs to come); and then there was the 'au naturel' aroma of a Chinese squat toilet. But hey, for 500 yuan - who's complaining? It wasn't a 'luxury' cruise by any means, but once you have lived in China for awhile, you learn that there are varying degrees of luxury.
My favorite attraction, of which I am certain few foreigners will ever have the opportunity to experience, is the walk down the hallway to the cabin. The walls were wood paneled and the floor had a plush red carpet. But it was not these that I enjoyed. It was the actual walk, for you see, underneath the carpet was some type of metal flooring that was somewhat detached from whatever structure lay below it, and what is more, it was also buckled. So as you walked down the hallway, the floor would buckle and pop under your feet. It was wonderful! Of course those who know me already know that I am a Laowantong (a childish man). There were three vantage points on the boat from which you could view the scenery. The front, the back, and the top deck, for which there was a one off 'ticket' fee of 10 yuan per person, and all three points provided specific advantages that often saw me running from one to the other. Of course, on that first evening, there was really nothing to see. It was already dark when we entered the first lock, and none of my photos turned out very good, and the process took forever. Eventually, after a long day, I retired. Very early in the morning, while it was still quite dark, I awoke to discover that we were still in the lock, but upon investigation, realized that we were in the last of a total of six, and about to begin our journey up river. It was a memorable trip that I would love to take again, only next time, over a longer period of time. It was quite tiring. Whilst at some times the sky was absolutely clear, for quite a bit of time it was hazy.
A variety of different boats one can see on the River. (Note the differing water colors)
This particular tour was booked as a three day river cruise, and it did in fact last over a three day period. It commenced as I have said, in the evening of the first day, continued throughout the second, and brought us safely back to YiChang in the late afternoon of the third day. For most of the second day, we traveled through muddy waters, as can be seen in the right frame of the middle set of photographs in the picture above. The river is incredibly muddy and filled with floating rubbish. Throughout the tour one could observe people in little 'junks' collecting 'junk' from the river. It is not until you arrive at the upper reaches of the river that the water changes color. The whole trip actually requires one to take three different boats. First there is the regular cruise ship which takes you to Wushan. From there you take a smaller boat, until you reach the upper reaches of the river where you must disembark and transfer to these little wooden 'traditional' type boats. The lower reaches of the river is quite wide, but as you proceed into the mountains, it gets very narrow. Whilst in this article I have provided photographs of interesting sights along the way, there is another photographic file containing pictures of the RIVER aspect of the trip.
Now naturally when one is on a scenic tour, one does not wish to miss anything, and so it was on this first full day of the tour, that from the time I awoke before dawn, until we returned from the trip to the Wuhou temple, I got no sleep, and was therefore quite exhausted.
Being a totally 'Chinese' tour, none of the staff spoke English and so it was left to Chen Yang to discover everything that we needed to know. This was made easier by the fact that the travel agency actually provided a 'tour guide,' who, while wonderful and helpful, spent most of her time with a family group that had moved to Germany about twelve years ago. Throughout the trip, they did not let on that any of them could speak English. It was only a few hours before we arrived back in YiChang that the daughter, whose name I have forgotten, introduced herself to Chen Yang and asked if she could talk with me. Knowing nothing about her at all, I just assumed that she was a typical Chinese English student and that like several others aboard, wanted to speak to me so that she could impress her parents, but would not actually have any communicative ability. When I was introduced to her, I did my standard 'H-e-l-l-o! How - are - you? She gave me a funny look and announced in perfect English "I can speak English you know!" And blow me down, she jolly well could at that.
She had moved to Germany at about the age of three years, and had to learn German from scratch. At ten years of age she was required to study English at school, and currently she was fifteen years old. I mention this because once I loosened up and began to speak with her in a normal way and at normal speed, poor Chen Yang, who has studied English for 7 years already and who had not spoken English till about 6 weeks earlier, got left behind in the conversation.
"How is it possible" he asked me privately, "that she can speak such fluent English, so fast, and using such big words?" 'Simple!' I replied, 'Mainland China is the only country in the world where students study foreign languages without ever being made to actually SPEAK THEM!'
Below Top Frames:
In the left frame are three people who kept smiling at me. I had a feeling that I had seen the young man before. He had a familiar face. Sometime after this trip I swear that I saw him in a TV Series. In the frames on the right - both top and bottom - is the young lady who learned English in Germany. The photograph of the boy in the Middle Frame was taken at Wuhou. He was a brilliant salesman who tried to sell me a bottle of coke for five yuan (RMB). He and his mother did their best but I simply wouldn't pay twice the price just because we were on an island. When he finally understood that I was not going to pay that much for the drink, he chased after me and "gave" it to me for only 1 RMB higher than the right price. Very kind of him indeed!
Above: On the Left - The young lady from Wuhan who from memory was in Grade 3 in Junior Middle School. In the middle - Some of my admirers. The three 'twins' could actually speak a good deal of English On the right is the girl who learned English in Germany.
The girl from Wuhan (in the picture set above) did a wonderful job of trying to speak to me, although she started out by just constantly hanging around me as I spoke to Chen Yang in English. After a while I asked her in Chinese if she wanted to speak to me in English. She is memorable because of something she said. "our foreign teacher never talks with us. He just sings songs and plays games, but we never get a chance to talk!" That says it all. And I might add, you can't blame the foreigner for that, for that is what most are instructed to do!
Now as I have said previously, every schedule that we were provided throughout the trip got changed. Originally we were supposed to go to breakfast at some time that I can't recall now, but ended up with us hanging around in our cabins waiting for the tour guide to come and get us. I should point out here that while all foreigners attract attention in China, to actually SEE ONE on a 'common' Chinese person's tour was somewhat of a bewilderment to most people. We ate all our meals in the dining room. Meals were an additional but average price. Lunch and Dinner were the best meals of the day because we could order just as in a restaurant and so we had some control over what we ate. Apart from its spiciness, Chao Rou is the best meal for a foreigner because the meat is actually off the bone. Most meat dishes are served on the bone which means that both the meat and the bones are hacked up with a clever, and believe me, it is nothing like eating a nice leg of chicken or a lamb chop.
I can't remember what time we arrived in Wushan, but it had to be after lunch because we certainly did not have a chance to eat before we set out for the upper gorge. The Town itself is ultramodern in appearance, and set into the side of a mountain. It consists of rows upon rows of apartment buildings, and is somewhat reminiscent of Rome, or even of Paris as one might see view it from the Eiffel tower. The waterfront however consisted of long lines of stalls from which one could purchase everything from arts and artifacts to food and drink. It was a regular bazaar.
In Wushan we had to disembark, walk down passed the stalls and their pleading vendors and board a series of smaller craft. As we walked the planks toward shore, I felt someone's hand on my back pocket. Always cautious, I was walking with my hands in my pockets, specifically to keep the cloth on the seat of my pants tight. I tightened my grip. When this did not seem to discourage the brazen (and inept) thief, I quickly sidestepped to the left and left him both surprised and embarrassed. He dropped his head so I could not see his face, and quickly retracted the jacket that had covered his hand to conceal his actions. He disappeared quickly.
We proceeded immediately to the smaller vessel, the price of which was included in our original ticket. Straight away we set off for the upper reaches of the river in a convoy of about six craft each holding perhaps forty people. Later we transferred to the smaller craft. In this next photograph, you can see the two different types of craft. The top left frame is of the boat that took us to the upper reaches, and the right frame is of the traditional craft that took us up the shallower waters into the gorge.
At Wushan one leaves the cruise ships changing to the small craft in the Top Left Frame. We are now in the middle reaches of the gorge. Later still one must change to the wooden craft seen in the photo on the right.
Top left is a shot taken on our second leg of the journey and taken from within the smaller craft Top Right is of one of the many 'mountain' caves that are now in reach of the river
In the bottom frames, one can see a cave with something in it. Now as I don't understand Chinese, and Chen Yang's explanation left a lot to be desired, all I can tell you is that it is an open coffin of some king that lived a thousand years ago. Apparently they used to 'dry out' the corpses and leave them in the cliffs. The bottom left frames shows where it is located in the mountain top. Of course, before the dam caused the water level to rise, this area was well out of reach, more so than it is now.
From Wushan one travels up river through much smaller settlements than were visible on the way to Wushan, and the scenery is spectacular. The mountain slopes are covered with farms and crops and villages of varying sizes and types ranging from modern construction and styles to the simpler wood or brick houses. There are numerous settlements located right on the river banks and it is a wonderful sight to see the villagers swimming, working, cooking or whatever right up there by the water level.
Further down in this article there are some photographs of children swimming in the middle of this very busy river and sometimes it was absolutely scary to watch them out there while wondering if the boat captains have seen them and can maneuver around them. And I will point out that it was not just the kids one had to look out for, for there were also the smaller local boats plying the river. The big surprise is the number of speed boats that ply the river as well, especially the super fast 'police boats.'
In the top left frame of the next photo which was taken before we arrived at the upper reaches where we transferred to the traditional style of wooden boat, you can see that we were fortunate enough to pass by some traditional mountain people going about their business.
Below: Top left is of a villager walking along a mountain path Top right is taken from within the boat I was in Bottom left is of some locals doing who knows what.
It was not too many years ago that these people lived very high up in the mountains, and transport was negligible. While now they have greater access to the river, roads and bridges, the cost is that they must now put up with the tourists. The other cost of course is that those at lower levels had to lose their homes and history, to resettle elsewhere. One finds it difficult to imagine what life must have been like for those people who originally lived in these mountains. It must have been quite a solitary existence, with little contact with the outside world. One of the things that was obvious, is that there must have been quite a few who lived in Caves, and in many places one could see the upper portions of cave entrances, and even remnants of walls set at the front.
Being summer, there were not too many occasions along this portion of the trip, that the canopy of the boat was pulled back to allow for a good view. Many like myself, braved the sun to sit up front on the deck, and I spent a good deal of time talking to an old man who was a crew member. It was funny to watch him on the return trip lean over the edge, get a bucket of water, and proceed to do his washing on the deck. I thrilled a few of the young folk by deigning to give them some attention so that they could practice their ‘Hellno's’ and ‘vhere do you come flom's,’ although I did have a conversation with a couple who spoke quite well, including an old man from Taiwan. A few times along the way we were shunted off the bow because it is apparently illegal for us to be there (safety regulations), but that usually occurred as we approached settlements or some ship approaching from the other direction gave a signal to our captain.
Below: The top two photographs below are taken in the middle section of the tour. Notice the water color difference between them and the bottom left frame in the first stage of the journey.
Below Top left frame is as you approach Wushan where we will change boats Top right frame is in the last section of the tour. Beautiful water and scenery.
Above: These two photographs are the same. One is the long distance full view. The other is lifted out of the original photo. The scene is in the middle leg of the journey
Eventually we docked at a portable landing at a fork in the river, and were rushed (not even time for a cigarette or to buy a coke from the vendors), into the traditional craft, and sent merrily on our way up the last leg of the river. The last leg of the voyage was the most serene and beautiful part of the trip. There were two staff on board and while one guided the craft along (powered by a little motor), the other spent some time serenading us with local mountain songs in an Endeavour to have us spend spend spend.
At various points along the way there were posted loud speakers in the mountains broadcasting more songs and additionally we encountered another boat cum platform from which even more locals serenaded us. Between the songs, the steep mountain sides, the water and the rock formations it was a beautiful trip which ended far too quickly. There was one moment of excitement when someone spotted a monkey. The mountains are apparently famous for them, but unfortunately it is not often that one gets the chance to spot one. While I originally thought that I had failed to get any photographs of the monkeys, I was to discover later that I in fact had.
That trip back to Wushan was quite fast compared to the trip up river, for three reasons. Firstly, having already traveled this portion there was no point in taking things slowly; Secondly, there was another scheduled tour to take (not that we were aware of it); Thirdly, all the boat captains played games with the others. They raced, played dodgems, and cut corners (bends in the river) as they jockeyed for the lead position.
While it was a tremendous amount of fun, it did occasionally get a little scary with all those other little craft in the water, and let's not forget about the local kids. At one point I saw two craft separate to travel either side of a group of swimming kids. This competition between craft created quite a site both for us passengers and those watching from the shore, not to mention the huge waves that it created. By the time we arrived back at Wushan, it was dusk. After being given a very brief time in which to grab a bite to eat, we set off once again for another tour.
Below: These photos were taken in the upper reaches of the Gorge where swimming between passing boats seemed common. It was Scary to watch though as some boat operators do like to play games. In the top left frame you can see how close the three boats were.
Wuhou and the Trip Home
Upon our return to Wushan from the upper gorge, we were informed that there was another tour to make. After a short break for supper, we were ushered onto another boat destined to take us to an Island containing the Wuhou Temple. This trip was quite interesting for several reasons. The boat which eventually ferried us to the Island (about 10 minutes away), suffered an accident, some slight damage and an injured passenger. It was quite beautifully equipped and obviously designed as a pleasure cruiser and had an upstairs lounge and dancing area. The regular seating was at water level. As it backed out of its park it hit a pylon and there was a loud 'bang' and the ship shuddered. Naturally everyone jumped. It is uncertain what caused the following event but something on the pylon hit one of the windows. The people in the immediate vicinity fled their seats and as the ship continued reversing, the window buckled and smashed sending shards of glass everywhere. One man received a cut to his arm, and while not bleeding profusely, nevertheless was bleeding. A young boy was covered in glass, and although unhurt, had to be deftly 'de-glassed.'
With the boat now stopped, the real pandemonium erupted, as every man and his dog jumped in to abuse the staff, in a manner considered 'normal' by foreigners who live in China but which would otherwise be thought to be wild, erratic, abusive and dangerous to the rest of you. It looked like a volatile situation, but when one has been privy to such sights in China, one tends to become rather blasé about them. Finally, the man was given some money, and shipped out to be taken for a medical examination. The boat (less one window) then continued on its way.
It was completely dark by the time we arrived at the Island, which meant that we would have difficulty taking any decent photographs, but I did manage to get a few that turned out reasonable once they were enhanced. Upon arrival we were given an opportunity to walk to the Temple or take a chair lift (for a fee of course), and we with our group accepted the latter offer. I'm sure it would have been a spectacular sight in the daytime, but at night all one could see was blackness which was intermittently interrupted by the occasional house light. The stars however were spectacular.
The Wuhou complex was quite impressive, although to be truthful, I haven't a clue what it was all about. I asked Chen Yang to ask our guide, but the best I could get was that the place had been built hundreds of years ago and no one had ever lived there or used it. I'm positive that this could not have been so, but after asking numerous questions, I was none the wiser. The only thing of which I am certain is that at sometime in the reasonably recent past there was built there a colonial type building that had been used as a hotel, but was now empty. Otherwise, between the architecture, gravestones, human bones, artifacts, museum and chairlift, it was indeed a beautiful place to visit.
Top Left Frame - Wuhou Temple Entrance Top right is of a wax representation of some ancient court. Bottom right is the entrance to the museum and artifact sales area.
Below Top Row Left and Middle frames are of shrines. There were a few others. Right frame is of a statue in a lotus garden. The statue might be of Confucius (or not?)
Above Left frame is of a pagoda lit up like a Christmas tree Middle frame is of the now defunct hotel Right Frame is of one of the large statues in the courtyard
I should point out here that I was not really familiar with the workings of my camera. Many of my photographs either came out far too dark to see anything or else were extremely blurry. I kept switching between night shooting and action shooting and flash and no flash trying to get the best shots. The end result was that very few of the shots are really good. But for me they bring back memories. The following is and exact copy of the text on a sign on display at the Temple.
The Ancestral Temple of Wuhou
The Ancestral Temple ofWuHou, the temple of zhuge Liang. the famous prime miniSter of shu kingdom during the ThreeKingsoms Period of China.Zhuge Liang also named kong Ming(AD.18 1-AD.234) was from LangYa district of Yangdu region, honored zhong Wu Hou. He was the famous politician and militaryscientist. In ancient times. His meritorious service was outstanding in his life He defeated powerful enemies time and again r - elying on his bravery and wisdom.And he was re - garded as embodiment of loyalry and wisdom. Int - he Ancestral Temple of WuHouof the white Emp - eror temple, theStatue of Zhuge Liang was enshrined and worshiped, It's accompanied by his son's statue - zhuge zhan, his grandson's statue-zhuge shang, The statues remain the style of Ming Dynasry.
Below: Top Left and Bottom Middle frames are of a coffin and bones and full skeleton display. Top Middle frame is of Chen Yang with one of my ex-wives. Top right frame is a little boy posing by a statue of Yoda (or not?) The other two bottom frames - have a guess! I don't know!
Below Top Frames are of the courtyard and an area containing numerous tablets Bottom Frames are of Chen Yang and I returning to the boat.
One did of course have to 'run the gauntlet' of vendors selling everything from soft drinks to genuine plastic antiques. I found myself quite thirsty during this trip and longed for something to drink, but everyone was charging outrageous prices. It was actually cheaper to buy beer than coke. By the time I got desperate for a drink, I was also irate enough to haggle over prices. As I walked away from the last vendor who refuse to lower the price of the coke, her little boy suddenly called out to me, and offered me a one yuan discount. I immediately spun around and agreed. Mother was not impressed, but I sorta guess he told her that something was more valuable than nothing. She finally agreed. Bless his cotton socks.
By the time we made it back to our cruise ship, I was thoroughly exhausted and suffering a headache. The only thing I can complain of however is that it would have been a better tour in the day time. I'm sure those rich foreigners get to see it in the daytime. We however were just second class Chinese citizens. Not long after we returned to the ship, it set off for home. Me, I just passed out from sheer exhaustion, and awoke in the morning to a glorious day of traveling along a stretch of the river that we had not seen on our way up (either we went back a different way or covered it at night).
During the middle of the day we stopped somewhere for a couple of hours while some guests took the opportunity to go white water rafting - for a fee. As Chen Yang was not interested in it, and as I am a Chicken that needs a lot of encouraging to do such things, we declined the gracious offer (and fee). An hour or so later we set off again, minus the white water rafters, whom we apparently had to pick up later in the day further down river.
Top Left Frame is of the place where we stopped to pick up the white water rafters. Top Right Frame is of a shrine or temple on a mountain top far away. What a hike it must have been and actually still is. (You need to appreciate that the water is now 45-145 meters closer to the mountain tops)
Above: The Bottom Frames were taken the day before and show some of the interesting architecture.
By early afternoon on the third day, our ship was ready to start the process of descending through the locks at the Dam. The first set contains 5 locks, which is followed a little further downstream by the last one which is located right by the city of YiChang. As we had originally passed through them during our first night, everyone was eager to watch and experience the process. It was quite amazing to see just how many ships actually fit into a lock. Each lock is divided into two sections which can be jointly or separately lowered according the volume of traffic. The process was time consuming. The water level of the river went from 45 meters on the lower side to 145 meters on the upper side, and each progression raises or lowers a ship by about 20 meters. It is really something to watch a ship 'sink' below the water line on the lock wall, especially considering the size of each ship.
Lumped together alongside all the other ships which had jockeyed for positions, there was plenty of opportunity to observe other travelers, many of whom found the sight of a foreigner quite appealing (must have to do with my good looks). The confinement in the lock, either by reason of boredom or lack of view, became the catalyst that led many of the young people to take the opportunity to talk to the foreigner. I spent a good bit of time talking in Chinese and English with a very young man, eager to improve his English. His parents worried that he was bothering me, but in fact, he actually taught me a few things. I was also constantly followed by three children in identical clothing, and was glad to see them make the effort to speak English. Many people also used this time to catch up on much needed rest.
The photo in the top left frame was taken from the ship I was on. So you are looking at a footpath beside the ship and a canal beside it which has a significantly lower water level. In the top right frame you can see that our ship is right in front of the gates and that we are high up. Down below there are ships waiting for their turn to enter the lock. The bottom photographs give you an idea of just how big these places can be because ships are two and three abreast. In the bottom photograph on the left, those big white balloons are the lights on the right side of our boat. Beside us is another boat and another on the right side of that one.
Clearing the fifth lock we headed for YiChang, stopping only long enough on the way to clear the last lock. Once we cleared that last lock, we traveled the equivalent of a few blocks down the street, turned left, and traveled a kilometer or two to the dock. On the homeward trip the city lies to the left of the river and from the heights of the lock one sees the city from a particular perspective. Once you clear the lock and clear the junction with the main part of the river you get a reasonably good idea of both how big the city is and what it really looks like. From that vantage point I was able to determine what things I wanted to visit in the city for the purpose of taking further photographs. The river bank was lined with a number of interesting buildings including the big Red Church, a Temple and the old city gateway, all of which had caught my interest.
Less than 30 minutes after leaving the last lock we were on dry land being greeted by Chen Yang's Aunty. She didn't speak a word of English but took us up the road to a Hotel where she booked us in for the night and then took us to dinner. Chen Yang and I had decided to stay overnight and head back to Wuhan the next day but I really didn't feel up to more traveling so soon so I convinced him to stay 2 nights in YiChang. This gave us more opportunity to see the city. It also ostensibly gave him opportunity to find the friends he was supposed to meet, but of the three of them only one had a phone that was not disconnected and he wasn't answering. That was no help.
Having swapped our shipboard cabin for one more solidly grounded we used it as a base for the next day and a half as we explored the city. For lunch the following day we decided to eat at the MacDonalds store which we had spotted when we first arrived in YiChang. I'm not sure if it is because traveling around the world makes you more conscious of landmarks or not, but Chinese people are constantly amazed that foreigners find their bearings so easily. They expect us to be lost. Chen Yang had known in which general direction the MacDonald's lay but had had no idea how to find it. This I did with ease. After lunch I told him that I wanted to go down to the river near the last Lock and take some photographs of those buildings I had seen from the ship. He was quite dubious as he had no idea how to get there. Telling him that I did indeed know, I set off with him in tow. Every 100 meters he would say; "Are you sure you are not lost?" A little while later we arrived at the river just a little further up than I had planned. He was astounded.
Because it was a hot sunny day he walked in the shade of one side of the street while I walked along the esplanade. This ultimately resulted in our 'parting of ways.' He had not seen me descend the riverbank when I went down to take photographs of the temple. When I re-emerged I found myself not facing the street, but within in a park. By the time I got to the roadway it was to spot Chen Yang boarding a bus. He had thought that he had lost me and had hoped that I also had caught a bus traveling along the riverside in the direction of our hotel. For my part, knowing exactly where both I and the hotel were, I continued exploring. I did not return to the hotel for perhaps two hours.
Scenes from Yichang These photographs were all taken in the same area. That area is captured in the bottom right frame.
Some of these photographs were taken on a second trip I made Judy is in the top right frame. We went there in December of 2004
As I continued to walk the riverbank I was able to observe many interesting sights. One of the things I discovered whilst walking along the esplanade, was two little boys swimming 'au naturel' and they were not the only ones so costumed on this bright hot riverside day. Further down there were three late teenage boys sitting on the riverbank playing cards, two of which were naked. One had thrown a towel across his lap, the other just sat on the hot cement. He, I noted, had a complete uniform body tan. Further down there were some lesser aged boys (12-14 year olds) also running around naked. Nobody batted an eyelid, not even the policeman who walked by, stopping briefly to see what it was that they were playing with in the water. That's China for you. (Even as late as 2007 I discovered that there are no laws in China to prohibit swimming naked!)
The river bank at YiChang is pretty much given over to public use, with one particular park running for quite a number of blocks and within which facilities are provided for a wide variety of purposes. That evening under the bridge for instance, the square was given over to public dancing. Imagine line dancing with a Chinese twist and you have it. On the hotel side of the Bridge there is a very formal type of 'show' park, reminiscent of those at Tianjin.
Left Frame: Some of the sites in this area. An interesting archway in front of a bank and a disused church not far away. Both within walking distance of the cruiser dock.
Right Frames Above
More but very 'Natural' sites. The bottom frame is not of a reflection. Those are two birds wing tip to wing tip. I have several photographs of them together. But I waited quite a while to get this particular shot.
On our final day, we took off mid morning to the bus station where we took a bus to Wuhan. There Chen Yang and I parted ways. He headed off to the University and I checked into the Qinchuan Hotel where I stayed for 6 days before heading back to Hong Hu.
I could write more about my stay in Wuhan and how a Student came to stay with me for two days, but I've written enough about Wuhan. It would be boring.
So there you have it, the final installment of my Summer Holidays. I hope you have enjoyed both the story and the photographs.
One Final Photo
The photo bottom left frame actually captures the complete scene occupied by the two photographs in the top frames. There was a wedding in progress and there was loud drumming and horn playing. The drummer can be seen in the top right hand corner of the top right frame. Not much further upstream there was another building which appears in the bottom right frame.
Muslim Children Call for End to Democracy in Australia. When you vilify people for objecting to Muslims, their dress, their beliefs and their customs, how can you yourself then be justified in vilifying Muslims. If we were to object to Muslim parents teaching their kids about jihad, about the overthrow of democracy, the damnation of feminists, homosexuals, abortionists, Jews and Christians, then we must of necessity object to what Roman Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Baptists, Jews, Democrats and Republicans (in America), Labour, Liberal and National Party members in Australia, Feminists, Homosexuals and pro-abortionists teach their children about their beliefs.
Whatever one may think about homosexuality and/or gay marriage, the reality pointed out in the article received for publication is exactly what I tried pointing out way back in 2005. PC activists are not egalitarian; what they demand for themselves is not what they grant others. I have many times pointed out that Political Correctness in essence is nothing more good manners, non-discrimination and the Bible's 'do unto others.' But as I have repeatedly pointed out over the years, "The most vocal people in the support of these types of laws, are in fact not the least bit interested in stamping out 'racism or discrimination.' The whole purpose of the law is to prevent you from expressing your right to freedom of expression."
Political Activism: Political correctness is just one tool in evidence of an underlying cancer slowly eating away at Western Democracy. Children are turning away from 'our' traditions, because they have failed to give them 'inner emotional stability.' Finding no ability to put their 'faith' in what Modern Society offers, they seek something 'more substantial' and more emotionally satisfying. So afraid are we of not being perceived as 'righteous,' that we gladly crucify those amongst us who are not afraid to say what they think; and to further assuage our guilt we find ways of 'excusing' the terrorists. And then when the brutality of those we support becomes so personal and intense that we can no longer excuse it, we must find some politically correct 'sanitary' and acceptable means of expressing our disgust.
Since 2004 he has been writing academic articles, social commentaries and photographic 'Stories from China' both here at KingsCalendar, and formerly as a contributing columnist at Magic City Morning Star News (Maine USA) where from 2009 to 2015 he was Stand-in Editor. He currently has a column at iPatriot.com and teaches English to Business English and Flight Attendant College Students in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province People's Republic of China.)
BenDedek originally created the site to publicize his research results into the Chronology of Ancient Israel. Those results were published under the title: 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran.' Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the chronological riddle of the Bible's synchronisms of reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and their synchronism with other Ancient Near Eastern Nations, no other research is based on a simple mathematical formula which could, if it is incorrect, be disproved easily. To date, no one has been able to dismiss the mathematical results of this research.
Free to air Academic articles set forth Apologetics for and results of his discovery of an "artificial chronological scheme" running through the Bible, Josephus, the Damascus Documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Seder Olam Rabbah. Check the Chapter Precis Page to see details of each chapter and to gain access to the Four Free to Air Chapters
(The Download book does not contain a section on Seder Olam)
Definition: King's Calendar Chronological Research
The Premise: Between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE (but continuing down to at least 104 BCE), Sectarian redactors transcribed the legitimate 'solar year' chronological records of Israel and Judah, into an artificial form, with listed years as each comprised of 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days, or 336 days per year, thus creating a 13th artificial year where 12 solar years existed.
When the Synchronous Chronological Data provided in the Books of Kings and Chronicles for the Divided Kingdom Period are measured in years of 336 days, the synchronisms actually align. [Refer to Appendix 5. to see how it synchronises the Divided Kingdom Period]