Leaving China

Since I last wrote we have toured Potala Palace and Jokan Temple and flown to  Chongqing, maybe the largest  city in the world with population over 33 million stretching for miles (kilometers) along the Yangtze River. This is where we bordered our river boat MV Victoria Lliana for three days and over 640 kilometers of down river passage through the 3 gorges and passed the 3 Gorges Dam through  the 5 step shiplock. Our entire group had chosen the Executive Deck and given the light passenger load we had the Executive Deck dining room to ourselves. We were served by Sunshine and Rainbow who learned our names almost immediately. We were greeted and served our preferences without having to ask. Talk about about spoiled.  Note to anyone thinking about this trip, DO NOT miss it and do not take passage on the lower decks. The Chinese do not understand the term “No Smoking”.  The water may be 150 meters up, but the gorges are still massive and very deep. I cannot even imagine what they must have been before the dam.  The lower section we traveled was very rough before the dam and today it is serene sailing.  We considered  both sides of the argument for the construction of the dam and while we understand the negative ecological impact of the flooding, we also see the immense benefit of the dam for hydropower, flood  control, and irrigation. We concluded the trip on the river just below the dam and faced a 5 hour bus ride to get to Wuhan where we stayed overnight before catching a plane to Hong Kong.

Out from behind the firewall!  The phrase “one country, two systems” takes on new meaning upon entering Hong Hong. While it is not truly western,  it certainly has a feel of freedom. Not the least it is seen  in what is available online; Facebook, Google,  NYTimes, and all my blogging and RV Forums are now live. It is seen in billboards, and peoples faces. Even more are the crowds! Yesterday as we walked about within long walking distance of our hotel to several market areas we seemed to receive the full body massage no matter where we turned. This is not a place for those who do not like crowds.  Think Times Square on New Years Eve, or in Rochester, the Cornhill Festival on a perfect weather day.

Sunday had us out and about again. This time we ventured by bus to Stanley Beach/Market/Plaza. We arrived mid morning to find the crowd starting to build.  By lunch time, when we had split off from the group we arrived with, the crowds had continued to grow, with seemingly every family that had a child descending on the place. We enjoyed touring and shopping and had a delightful lunch at a place called Classified . Then we found our way back to the bus terminal and boarded a bus back into town. Not being familiar with the stops on the way  back, we stayed on one stop too far.  Once we got oriented we enjoyed the 15 minute walk back to the hotel.

Tonight is our fairwell dinner and four of us will continue on to Siem Reap,  the capital of Cambodia in the early afternoon.

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