Shennong Stream

I’m still working my way slowly down the Yangtze, photo-wise. The last “shore excursion” on our cruise didn’t include going ashore…or any steps.

They loaded us onto a passenger ferry in Badong, which took us to Shennong Stream, where they loaded us into sampans to go upstream. 


Before Dam the stream was too shallow to row and the boatmen would hop out and pull the boats…often in the nude. Our boatmen didn’t doff their clothes but they did demonstrate jumping off, pulling and jumping back on. 

The peak experience happened when our guide, Cherry, and one of the boat men started singing Chinese folk songs as we glided along through the mountainous landscape. It was as if we landed in a living Chinese painting.

Apropos of nothing

Some street photography from Qufu. 

When I visited the town of Qufu, Shandong Province in China, I decided to spend the afternoon just wandering about and getting an idea of the layout, then focus on seeing the San Kong (3 Kong’s) the second day in town.
Qufu, not WiFi (the spell checker keeps trying to change it), is Confucius’s home town and is very much oriented to tourism, primarily Chinese tourists. Most people visit Qufu in combination with Tai Shan over two days so they start early and there was a laid back feeling of the local folks living along as I wandered slowly around.

Three pairs of what?

This was the question showing on the cell phone of the waitress in the restaurant I chose for lunch. She was trying to use a translation app to refine my order. 

Turns out the answer to that question was “well done”, it seems to have meant “how do you want your steak cooked?” Live and learn.

Which way to wisdom?

I ducked into a side hall to avoid a large mass of “yellow necks”* at Kong Miao (Confucius Temple) yesterday. After noisy crowds outside, this long hall of what appear to be alters to sayings felt like the right path. 

I was too frazzled by the crowds to find and read the description of what this hall actually is. 

Response to Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge
*This was a coordinated mass of Chinese tour groups who wore yellow neck sashes. I played leap frog with them all day. The bonus is that they seemed to be putting on several reenactments for their benefit and I could slip in around the edges.

Even more steps

I was determined to not miss a single opportunity. My tenacity meant tired legs. But the offered sedan chairs were scarier to me than tired tootsies. The thought of two tiny Chinese kids hauling my well-rounded self up steep stone stairs made me feel a bit queezy. So up I went.

The third shore excursion on our Yangtze cruise was White Emperor City. Like the first two it was at the top of a hill accessed by lots of stone steps. All of the other English speaking folks on our cruise didn’t opt in so my son and I tagged along with a Chinese group. James speaks Chinese so we figured we could manage. But it turned out that the guide spoke excellent English and after each stop she took us aside and explained. So it was like having a private tour. She even translated famous poetry off the cuff.

The White Emperor City was different fundamentally from The other two: it was not a shrine or religious site. It was a memorial to the White Emperor, a man named Gongsun Shu. He was a local king who did well for his area and was considered loyal. He was moved to become emperor after a dream about a white dragon going upward to the sky. 

This site had a good display and explanation about “hanging coffins” and a very good view of Kuiwen (the “gate” to the western-most of the Three Gorges) as well. More about that later.

Shibao Zhai Pagoda

Projecting from a stone island in the Yangtze River is the arresting sight of Shibao Zhai. 

This pagoda appears to be almost convex due to the shape of the rock on which it was constructed. 

The lower levels of this ancient pagoda would have been destroyed by the flooding caused by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. Communal action, in the form of building a coffer dam has preserved this important site.

A response to the Thursday‘s-Special Challenge.

A little more Fengdu

Incense. Red ribbons. Lots and lots of people and stairs.

Like many important locations in China (and elsewhere). Fengdu Ghost City is a mixture: there are temples for Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism at the site. It is crowded (being a stop for all of the Yangtze River Cruises through the Three Gorges). It seems a bit like an amusement park in some ways and yet for many who visit it is also sacred.

It is an old location, predating all of the religions that have temples there. Some of the buildings and statues are quite ancient where others are new recreations, some are elegant and subdued and others are vibrantly colorful.

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