Leisure abounds aboard Yangtze cruises de­part­ing from Chongqing for Hubei’s Three Gorges locks. Yang Feiyue hops on deck for re­cre­ation, hops off for ex­cur­sions and kicks back for re­lax­ation.

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - Con­tact the writer at yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Emer­ald moun­tains, rus­tic farm­houses and sparkling night views emerged from the Yangtze River’s banks as we drifted along.

We en­joyed four days of win­ing and din­ing among in­cred­i­ble views aboard the Yangtze Gold Cruise No 6. The ship de­parted from Chongqing and we dis­em­barked for good in Hubei prov­ince’s Yichang.

Days on deck were spent play­ing mahjong with friends, and night­time of­fered ban­quets and bar­be­ques.

We also stopped to ex­plore sev­eral des­ti­na­tions.

Yangtze Gold Cruise No 6 is ac­claimed as the Yangtze River’s most lux­u­ri­ous liner. The six-story craft of­fers theater, spa, fit­ness, mini-golf, poker and shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences.

Guests must of­ten book ahead, says Wang Yi, vice-gen­eral man­ager of mar­ket­ing of Chongqing Yangtze Gold Cruises Co. The com­pany is the big­gest op­er­a­tor along the route.

Cruises along the river are among China’s first travel at­trac­tions mar­keted to in­bound tourists. About a third of guests hail from North Amer­ica, South­east Asia, Europe and Aus­tralia, Wang says. Most are older than 40. “We’ve found pa­trons like to spend time just read­ing and rest­ing on board,” Wang says.

“They also en­joy ar­ranged ac­tiv­i­ties.”

They can prac­tice tai chi, make jiaozi (dumplings) or lis­ten to lec­tures on tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture. Ex­pla­na­tions are bilin­gual. Our first stop was Fengdu Ghost City.

It did truly look spec­tral, as mist wafted atop the moun­tains and banks.

We trudged up a flight of stairs ris­ing up a slope.

“You don’t have to walk up herein win­ter ,” a guide ex­plained, point­ing to a tide marker.

“The wa­ter rises in win­ter, so you can hop off the ship there.”

Lev­els are con­trolled by the mas­sive flood-con­trol and power-gen­er­a­tion project, the Three Gorges in Yichang.

The set­tle­ment was ca­ble­car ac­ces­si­ble un­til the dam made it a sep­a­rate is­land.

The 1,900-year-old Ghost City is perched on Min­shan Moun­tain.

Leg­end says the city takes its name from Eastern Han Dy­nasty (AD 25-220) necro­mancers Yin Chang­sheng and Wang Fang­ping, who made a pil­grim­age to Min­shan to prac­tice Tao­ism and be­came im­mor­tals. The sur­names Yin and Wang as a port­man­teau sound like “King of Hell” in Chi­nese. So peo­ple be­gan to call Fengdu Ghost City.

Be­yond that co­in­ci­dence, some tem­ples and shrines de­pict peo­ple be­ing tor­tured for this life’s sins in the un­der­world.

It’s a syn­op­sis of the Chi­nese con­cep­tion of karma.

The city bears Bud­dhist, Con­fu­cian, Taoist and even Hindu in­flu­ences.

Our next port of call was Shibaozhai in Zhongx­ian county.

We tot­tered across a sus­pen­sion bridge’s jog­gling wooden boards to the wooden build­ing that stands in de­fi­ance of the steep­ness of its foun­da­tion’s slope.

The 12-story struc­ture is said to be the largest of its kind in China.

We also vis­ited Fengjie county’s Baidi City in Chongqing.

The “city of po­ets” was built inAD25. Many an­cient literati left nu­mer­ous lit­er­ary in­scrip­tions, in­clud­ing Tang Dy­nasty (618-907) lu­mi­nar­ies Li Bai and Du Fu.

It to­day hosts live shows de­pict­ing scenes from the wartorn Three King­doms pe­riod (AD 220-280).

Most pas­sen­gers stayed up late the last night as the ship passed the Gorges’ five-level lock.

Colos­sal con­crete walls jut sky­ward on both sides. The pas­sage we saw in the glar­ing lights cast against night was just wide enough for our mas­sive ves­sel to squeeze through.

The lock sys­tem runs more than 6 kilo­me­ters and jumps over 100 me­ters from its low­est to high­est points.

It typ­i­cally takes three hours to nav­i­gate.

Wang’s com­pany has signed deals with the Canada-based travel com­pany Va­cances Si­noroma, which has char­tered a cruise ship over the past two years for North Amer­i­can guests. This has brought in about 35,000 in­ter­na­tional tourists, Wang says. The num­ber is ex­pected to hit 50,000 next year.

Both sides plan more co­op­er­a­tion and aspire to make in­roads into the Euro­pean and Aus­tralian mar­kets.

Chongqing Yangtze Gold Cruises has also de­vel­oped routes from Chongqing to Jiangsu prov­ince’s cap­i­tal, Nan­jing, and Hubei prov­ince’s cap­i­tal, Wuhan.

A down­side, per­haps, is that I for one felt like I’d gained weight af­ter I dis­em­barked the fi­nal day.

In­deed, it seems the per­fect ex­pe­ri­ence for those who want to get around and go far but also go slow and do so with­out too much leg­work.

We’ve found pa­trons like to spend time just read­ing and rest­ing on board. They also en­joy ar­ranged ac­tiv­i­ties.” Wang Yi, vice-gen­eral man­ager of mar­ket­ing, Chongqing Yangtze Gold Cruises Co


Top: Vis­i­tors dis­em­bark from the YangtzeGoldCruiseNo6 for a sight­see­ing dur­ing the cruise. Above left: Vis­i­tors take a wooden boat around the Xiaox­i­aosanxia in Wushan county, Chongqing. Above right: The Fengdu Ghost City is a port of call along the route.

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