I was up early to see the sun rise over the steep hills (mountains?) that lined the river. We had started moving in the night (finally!) and I had felt the slight shudder of the engines periodically. The emerging view from our balcony was breath-taking – bringing to mind those water-colours of steep rounded hills and deep gorges.
Jan and I made our way down to the lounge for the morning Qigong session with Zhong. Yesterday there had been four of us. Today the ranks are growing. I think we may be up to six. The movements are very Tai Chi. Zhong is a good leader.
Breakfast was a bit earlier today cuz we were heading out on a boat tour of the Lesser and Mini Gorges. I’ve been eating way too well. I will need to do a lot of exercising when I get home.
We docked at Wushan and loaded onto a tour boat to head up the Daning River – a tributary to the Yangtze. Like the Yangtze, the river was lined by steep cliffs of limestone and shrub growth. The trees are not big so probably next to no original or primary growth here. We travelled under a “golden” (mostly orange) bridge near Wushan as we headed upriver. Periodically we would see caves in the cliffsides as we travelled the Dragon Gate Gorge. Part way up the first gorge there was a lot of construction happening. According to the guide they were building bridges and tunnelling through the mountains to put in either train tracks and/or a highway – a huge project. Most of the gorge was uninhabited probably because the cliffs were so steep. We did see a few places where monkeys came down out of the bushes for food left at the Monkey Feeding Stations. They seem to be the only wildlife other than birds that we have seen so far. We entered the Emerald Gorge which lived up to its name and wound its way oxbow-like towards the third gorge. After about an hour we came to a boat launch where we were loaded onto an upgraded sanpan for a trip up the Madu River through the Misty Gorge. At one point our sanpan was serenaded by a boat of local musicians as we motored by.
Eventually we turned around and retraced our steps back to the pier where we were loaded back onto our cruise ship for lunch and an afternoon of relaxation. After lunch Jan and I booked ourselves in for a 70 minute massage that consisted of foot manipulation, hot stone work and wonderful kneading. I fell asleep a couple of times. It was well worth the 300 yuan.
Supper was another great repast. Our group seems to always be the last to leave the dining lounge. The poor wait staff are so tolerant. We ambled out onto the deck to view the stars and watch the light show on the struts of the nearby bridge. It was quite impressive. Rosalind and I hung around long enough to catch some fireworks on the south bank of the river.
That evening was a cultural dance display that I was only able to catch half of. I was so exhausted that I snuck out. Jan skipped the whole thing and she was passed out fully clothed on her bed when I got back to the room. That was a good massage.