Cruising Down China’s Toliet. Yangtze River.

2 Nov

China's Largest River - the Yangzte.

Boarded the Chines LOVE boat to cruise down China’s largest toilet, Yangtze River, to check out the Three Gorges Dam.

Olive, our chipper Chinese tour guide, is bunking with me. The boat is oversold, given 1.3 Billion Chinese are on holiday. Because of this, tour guides are booted from their rooms and have to sleep in hallways. Not for our Olive. Having her one-on-one allowed me to hear her thoughts about growing up Chinese. More on that later.

Real fast. Let me give you a 411 on the boat. It’s not your LOVE boat or your “I support Obesity” with the all-you-can-consume – Carnival Cruise – boat.  It’s an older boat. Low ceilings. Musty carpet. Built in 1950. Needs updating. In comparison to the others, our boat is clearly a ONE or TWO star, not a zero star.

Say no to bunk beds and hello to two twin beds with mattresses. A toilet that flushes into the sea.  Lukewarm water.  And, a dusty window with pristine views of the river.

Room aboard.

The boat is to carry us down the Yangtze river, largest in China, to the Three Gorges Damn. Quick background about the Damn. I’ve never given dams a though prior, but give me a political, economic or religious angle and I will find most anything interesting.

Three Gorges is one of the wonders-of-the world for the communist. The dam is an estimated 600 feet tall, one mile wide and generates over 20,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity.

The building rationale was irrigation, flood control and power generation for millions of Chinese. The dam was the brain child of Li Peng, the prime minister involved with the communist party split that let to the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre. You can imagine there was no debate on the damn’s efficacy and the $22 billion dollar project moved forward.

It is reported Three Gorges displaced over 1.4 million Chinese living alongside the river – equivalent to the obliteration of Dallas, Texas.

Rumor on the street is another 300,000 will need to be relocated with the recent flooding and “cracks” in the surface. So, let’s add the estimated population of St. Petersburg, Florida to our friends in Dallas. Relocating in China means getting a few weeks notice to quit your job, pack your home, move your animals, harvest your fields and go wherever the Chinese authorities see fit to place you.


Besides displacing millions, the dam ate up over 80,000 acres of land and large number of historic relics from one of the most ancient areas in Chinese history. Translation. Daming the river means higher water levels. Higher water levels means artifacts lost forever and ever. To Chinese, feeding people and powering businesses outweighs preservation of ancient civilizations and animal/plant species.

To the locals, Yangtze river is seen as the country’s largest toilet. More than 150 million Chinese live upstream from the dam. Household garbage is dumped directly into China’s largest river and it is reported that nearly three tonnes of crap is collected from the dam everyday. Imagine if that was your job. And, imagine being able to walk across the river via bridges made of trash.

That should give you a nice visual of floating along the Yangtze to the Three Gorges Damn. Water may be polluted, ancient relics lost, plants dead and people displaced, but the natural beauty is truly awe-inspiring. Photos do a better job describing it than words. Check out the album on this blog for more pictures.

This View on back of $10 Yuan. Olive and Dawn model for us.

We docked one day and took small boats through the Yangtze canals. Breathtaking. We were to do some hiking, but the entire area was flooded. So, we cruised around.

That night, we stopped at the infamous relocated town of 1.4 million. It reminded me of a slum. Or, tenant housing. The people looked happy to see us, for we now our their only source of income. Prior, they were farmers – had their own land – now they live in small apartments. We happened upon a square where the town came out to greet us. They played some rockin’ Chinese music and started line dancing. Country and Thai-Chi line dancing rocks. They next thing I know, tallgirl is out there line dancing among the young and old. It was a memorable night.

One final note about the boat cruise, rats. So, I’m rooming with Olive. She said, “we may have friends tonight….we are near the kitchen…expect friends.” I did not know what she was talking about. “What?”

Olive: “You know. Rats. If you have food in your room, they will come for a visit. I don’t like rats Can we keep the light on tonight.”

Hell, I hate rats too. The lights stayed on. I just slept with a pillow over my face. Oh, the joys of traveling…

3 Responses to “Cruising Down China’s Toliet. Yangtze River.”

  1. ktlou 02/11/2010 at 9:48 am #

    ok- eco-friend lou would have issues with this River. looks like a fun group-hope you can teach us about chinese line dancing!

  2. MaryStuart (sister) 02/11/2010 at 10:05 pm #

    Where are the Chinese line dancing photos!! I am sure it was not a dance made for tall people. That would have been a hoot!!
    I hope no one was taking a dip or bathing in this water. YUCK!!!
    hope the rats did not get your peanut butter. Ha!

  3. Derek Warner 08/11/2010 at 10:57 am #

    Love the title, how appropriate. I am really loving your writings, they have become my lunchtime treat, where is she today, what insight on this day. I guess clearing the mind of all the superfluities of living in the U.S takes time. Once it wears off, you can see and think much more clear, and do have more time to do so.

    Travel on sister, go find the good stuff, oh and back up your writings somewhere, your book depends on it.