Monday, January 19, 2015

Is this a BOAT or a SHIP? Will we get wet? :-)

Off to the the cruise we go.  But what will it be like?  Do they have bathrooms on the ship?  In my room?  Will I get seasick?  What are the beds like?  So many questions, which led me to believe that my work on preparing the band for this part of the trip was a bust……even though links to the ship’s website were provided, it became clear as we drove along that not many people had taken the time to check them out.

So, WHAT IS this boat (or is it a ship?) all about, anyway?

Not so fast – we had to get there first.

We picked up some local guides at the hotel in Wuhan and headed out on a 3 – 5 hour ride by bus to the city of Yichang, our embarkation on the Victoria Selina.  The guides explained that, depending   (A tough concept for we time-sensitive Americans!)   Two stops at freeway “Happy Rooms” (you can imagine what they are) and adjacent markets, and we reached Yichang in time for a 1:30 lunch.
More cranes here (and consruction) than anywhere in the world!
upon traffic, we would reach our destination in 3 – 5 hours.

Following an excellent meal, we were off to see the Yichang Museum and artifacts from 7000 years of Chinese history, all uncovered  during the digging of the Three Gorges Dam.  At the end of this tour, they showed us some “cultural relics” (jade carvings and such) that the Chinese government was actually selling to make money to build a new museum in which to display the more important pieces.  Amazing, huh?

From here, a half hour visit to a park along   While standing and watching the barge traffic go by, I felt a slight tug at my sleeve.  I looked down and there stood a young Chinese boy.  His smile was intense, and finally he said, "Hello mister.  I am nine years old."   I think those were his best English words, and his parents who were nearby beamed.  "Well, HELLO!" I replied, "I am 60 years old."  The smile changed to a tilted head with a somewhat non-impressed look.  What a sweet kid.  We talked - he in Mandarin and me in English - like we were having a real conversation.  His parents took our picture and off they went.   This kind of exchange happens more often than not here - our kids are in many, many picture taken by curious Chinese people.  It's sweet.  Very sweet.
the Yangtze where kids and their parents were playing, riding merry-go-rounds and otherwise enjoying a nice Sunday afternoon.

The river looks wide and while there are some hills nearby, we’re in a section of downtown so it looks pretty much like we had seen it before in Wuhan.  That was all to change soon…….

6:00 p.m. and we were sitting down to eat again!  “Oh gosh, I can’t eat another bite” I heard from several students, yet one hour later as I walked around the room I noticed that nearly ever dish on the table was empty.  Yup, good stuff was served.  Really good stuff.  (Recognizing that “stuff” is not a very academic word, I use it simply to help indicate that 50% of the time we are not quite sure what we are eating). 

Darkness has descended upon Yichang (by the way, did  you know that China has ONE timezone?   Imagine the US on one timezone…..we’re never quite sure when it will get dark or light as we move westward!).   Back in the buses and off for a 30-minute drive until we realize that, after bouncing around on some pretty rough roads, we are at the top of a hill looking down at a sparkling ship – the Victoria Selina!  Recognizing the steep hill we had to travel, we hired some local farmers to transport our luggage down the hill to the ship, and I’m grateful that we did.  These guys would strap four king-size bags onto boards and throw them over their shoulders, then down the hill they’d go and into the ship with our bags.  It was well worth the $2.40/bag I paid for this to happen!  

We received our room keys and people were off to get comfortable in their rooms and explore the ship.   I think they are impressed.  At least I hope they are.  It’s a very nice ship/boat, and the people are extremely accommodating.  We all met at 9:00 in the top floor club for a welcome and brief talk by the Cruise Director about the night and day to follow. 

So far, so good, but I can’t wait to wake up and see where we are!  (And now I will cheat and put in a picture from TOMORROW morning.  :-)  At least you know what we look like!

The Victoria Selina at dock in Sandouping.  Tough to load pics with limited wi-fi so may dump more from Xian.

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