March 31st

Linda and I were both awake early, helped, no doubt, by the squawking of the sound system which began at 6:30 a.m. Outside, it was cold and grey but we had entered the Three Gorges so we got up and went out onto the Observation Deck at the front of the boat to watch the spectacular scenery on both sides of the river, which was flowing fast and sullen.

It was cold, with a strong buffeting wind, but gradually the wind died down and a few rays of sun began to reach down into the depths of the canyon. It was a wonderful sight, with miles of gorge stretching ahead of us into the hazy morning air, and the cliffs towering above us, cloaked at the base with sparse vegetation then rearing upwards to sheer, naked rock.

The Three Gorges, Yangtze River. (these gorges are all now submerged beneath the lake created by the Three Gorges dam)

As the day progressed, the gorge widened, then narrowed, then finally widened to form the lake above the new Xiaotian dam. The ship entered a lock that seemed large enough to hold at least four boats the same size as the one that we were aboard, and after about 20 minutes the water level began to fall until we were roughly 50 metres, lower.

Once we were away from the lock the river widened out even further, and large factories began to dot the banks of the river, strangely juxtaposed against the yellow patchwork of canola fields. Once again the air became thick with a blue haze of pollution: similar to every other part of China that we have seen.

We spent all evening in the second class lounge and a comfortable night in our fourth-class bunks.

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