Yangtze mementoes: Part 5

Lesser 3 Gorges and Baidicheng, Yangtze. May 31st.

The river breeze became our travel chaperone the next morning, bringing us into one of the biggest estuaries of the Yangtze, the Daning Tributary, for a rendezvous with the Lesser 3 Gorges – the Dicui (Emerald) Gorge, the Wu (Misty) Gorge and the Longmen (Dragon Gate) Gorge. Like leaves carried by the breeze, we cruised along via smaller wooden boats maneuvered by local boatmen-cum-fishermen. The Han could be helping the minorities this way – providing them jobs in the tourism industry. There were folk singers too along the way – their voices echoing from the walls of rock that have sheltered them throughout the centuries. A bridge would have to be torn down and rebuilt when the water level rises up to 175m in the next phase of the dam construction, so as to enable water vehicles to pass through into the Daning Tributary. Though, ancient coffins will still hang on the sheer cliffs. It is said that the altitude at which the coffins were inserted into the rocks represents the level of respect the children had for their parents, and the hope that they had for their parents’ souls to reach the heavens in the afterlife. However, the hypotheses of how they managed to haul the coffins up to that height remain unverified. Now, the water has indeed shortened the distance between mortals and the towering peaks of the gorges.

In the sheer afternoon, my father and I climbed the shortened flight of stairs to Baidicheng, a town perched on the peak of a peninsula jutting out into the Yangtze, now reduced to a small island by the flood, perhaps also awash in the tide of commercialization. Once a paradise for famous Tang poets, the town is now a sad reflection of decades of exploitation for the tourist industry – its historical artifacts almost reduced to prostitutes. We arrived at the statue exhibit of Liu Bei Presenting His Sons To Zhu Geliang – a critically-acclaimed work of historical art, where the expression on the face of each character during that very historical moment is articulated to minute detail – in the midst of continuing renovations. Debris fell before our faces and over our heads as we listened to the briefing by the tour guide. Perhaps the authorities have decided that they could not lose even a day of business by being closed to tourist visits…

Lesser 3 Gorges

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~ by musafiremes on June 21, 2007.

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