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Hetty & Jim’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 17 Sep 2006

Location: kunming, China

MapHello friends and family.
China has everything but it's internet services leave a bit to be desired. Mind you not being able to decipher chinese letters doesn't help!Spent Sunday night on the Internet writing for 2 hours only to find that it did not send. We have found that there are not nearly as many internet services in each city and of course life gets busy travelling so the moments are few and far between.

We are presently in Kunming, only about 100 klms from the Vietnam border close to where we did a home stay with hill tribes last year. It is about 2000 metres above sea level and is surrounded by mountains. It is a small town by Chinese standards - about 3 million. Every town we go through or fly over is inundated with high rise units even if there is nothing outside the immediate locality. We have not seen a suburb as we know it.

Some facts: China has 1.3 billion people and looks to be the same land mass as ours.
Our trip down the Yangze from Chongquing to Yichang was a relaxing wonderful experience. Before we boarded the cruise boat we went to the zoo to see a baby Orangatang and several pandas. We also walked around Eling park which gave us great views of the Yangtze and surrounding area. Once again the number of people out in the park dancing, singing, playing cards etc made me think that their community life is probably better than ours., though I wouldn't cope in the cramped conditions so many people live in.
We boarded the boat at about 7.00pm. We were greeted along the way by at least one steward every 3 metres - about 15 in all. There was one worker to 3 passengers so we were well serviced. The cabin was beautifully and comfortably decked out with a small balcony enabling us to enjoy the passing scenery. The fridge was tiny and portable. As it was very pleasant balmy weather we tried the swimming pool which was very refreshing then sat and watched barges loaded with mainly coal and beautifully lit up restaurant boats going up and down the river. The meals were of course Chinese - about 15 dishes at each sitting , more than we could ever hope to eat. Each night the staff who were stewards during the day provided fun enterainment.On the way the scenery changed from big cities with clinging highrises to the sides of steep embankments to beautiful mountains which got continually higher with the occasional small dwelling tucked tightly in to a cliff.S signs of agriculture. Saw little animal life though a swallow flew along side the boat for some of the time. We passed through three gorges which were just so beautiful. As we entered the first gorge early in the morning it was a treat to watch the sun peep over the horizon of the tall mountains and reflect back on the water.There was 175 metre mark on the embakment from time to time to show where the water level will reach when the 3 gorges dam is completed. It will displace some 1.3 million people who will be compensated by the government. We saw some instances of old cities being demolished and new cities built on the other side of the river.
One of the side trips off the boat was a ride in a row boat up one of the Yangtze's tributaries to a minority people village. The men rowing the boats were all in jocks as the weather was warm with the sun beating down. As the boat got intop shallow waters they heaved it up the river with ropes around their bodies, a bit like the old volga boatmen. They were certainly fit!

The trip finished at the three gorges dam in Yichang.The suitcases were unloaded two to three at a time by men with a piece of carved wood across their backs with suitcases held by string at each end of the wood. Very clever I thought.

Once we embarked we inspected the 3 Gorges dam project - a massive construction which will change the face of the Yangtze and this area forever.
Yichang itself is a very liveable city. The department store was particularly clean and well laid out. We have noticed this about other department stores we have seen.
Our next stop - Shanghai.

Since I last wrote we have been