Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.
For spring break we chose to cruise on the Yangtze River. This early in the year the boats only run between Chongching and Yichang, not all the way to Shanghai. We chose to take a train to Yichang and then take the boat cruise from Yichang up to Chongching. We would still have a few days left, so we took a train from Chongching to Chengdu before returning to Shanghai by train.
I was looking forward to just sitting on a boat and watching China go by. It turned out not to be quite that relaxing. Breakfast was at 7:15 every morning, so no lazy sleeping in. There was at least one or two excursions each day, some lasting 3-4 hours. Therefore, a lot less sitting on the balcony with a book and watching the world go by than I had envisioned.
We arrived in Yichang on Saturday and had most of Sunday to look around before heading to the boat that evening. We went out fairly late on Saturday evening looking for food. Most of the shops around our hotel had closed up already and we were beginning to lose hope, when we discovered a group of about 5 street food carts on a side street.
Lovely dumpling soup and freshly fried rice were the result.
The next day we just walked out of the hotel to explore the neighborhood. There was a park across the street, so we wandered through it enjoying the sights.
We wandered through an antiques market.
Then we went in search of lunch. Central China is known for it’s spicy food, so we did amazingly well in choosing dishes. Only one was unbearably hot.
Then it was time to walk back to the hotel, pack up, and catch a taxi to the boat dock.
We settled in and then wandered around the boat checking out the facilities. It is very nicely appointed. Just a nice hotel on water.
Over the next three days we went on excursions involving a bus trip to the Three Gorges Dam, a boat trip up a tributary (Daning River), and climb a hill to see the Fengdu Ghost City. All of which were interesting, but a little tiring.
We were the only caucasian/English speaking passengers. The staff spoke enough English to make sure we knew what was happening and they always made sure we went with the local excursion guide who could speak to us in English. At meals, they gave us our own table and our waiter took good care of us. So, we didn’t make any lifelong or cruise-long friends. Being introverts, we enjoyed the privacy that our language gap afforded us.
Overall, we enjoyed it and were sorry to have to leave the boat on Thursday morning. The cruise was too short, so we are planning on doing it again during a summer season when we can do the full length of the river from Shanghai to Chongching. We will skip some of the excursions, especially those we have already done. It is nice to see interesting sites, but we would be happy with just some pleasant down time.
We did not linger in Chongching. We took a taxi to the train station and then took a train to Chengdu. We were both getting over a long lasting upper respiratory infection, so feeling a bit worn out and tired. Therefore, we didn’t do very much in Chengdu except take naps between meals.
We had some fun at this restaurant because, clearly, they do not get many caucasian tourists. The chef came out to take a selfie with Daddybird. He came back a little later with a bottle of beer and glasses to drink several toasts with us. The wait staff crowded around all trying to help us choose dishes from the menu which was all in Chinese with no pictures. Another customer who knew a little English was pulled in to help translate.
The next day we went to Kuanzhaisiangzi Alleys which is a historical residential area that has been “revitalized” into a tourist area. Lots of shops, restaurants, and food stalls.
On Sunday we went on a food tour with Lost Plate Tours (same company for the tour we took in Xian). It is a great way to find local specialties that you might not encounter or know to look for otherwise.
On Monday, it was back onto a train for a 14 hour trip back to Shanghai. We love traveling by train. It is less stressful than air travel even though it takes longer. Much less hassle getting through security and onto a train. We pay extra for first class which is less expensive than flying and more comfortable. The view out the window can be amazing.
All in all, it was a good vacation and we would do it again.
To see all the pictures: