The Chang Jiang is Chinas longest river. Currently, there is a new dam under construction 40 km upstream of Yichang, at Xiling Gorge. This dam will, when completed, will put the Three Gorges between Yichang and Chongqing under water. But at least in this century visitors will enjoy a wonderful view of all the breathtakingly sheer cliffs. One wonders who built the houses on long stilts trying to hold on to the shore as well as possible.
by Judy Bonavia, Peter Neville-Hadley
Odyssee Publications, Paperback, 5. edition, 199 pages,
There are four classes on the regular boats: second to fifth. In communist China there is no first class, as this is considered bourgeois. Second class is a double room and public showers and toilets that are lockable (in contrast to the other showers and toilets that are in one big room with everybody watching everybody else.) Third class is in an eight berth room, while fourth class is in 14 berth rooms. Fifth class is no berth at all and probably not quite official.
The more touristy boats are run by companies such as Regal China Cruises. They take four days from Chongqing to Wuhan, and are thus not only much slower than regular boats, but more expensive as well. For all that extra money you get all-day Chinese music blaring from loudspeakers. The 130 m long ships hold 258 passengers, air-conditioning, private bathrooms, television, refrigerator and 24-hour service. There are shows every evening and a lot of on board entertainment, so that the trip resembles the average cruise through the Caribbean Sea.