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Chongqing, a picturesque mountain city that clings to steep cliffs located at the confluence or the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers, serves as ether a port of destination or of departure for every Victoria Yangtze River cruise. In 1997 Chongqing was formally established by China's central government as the nation's fourth directly-administered municipality. As a consequence of this reorganization, Chongqing now administers a sprawling area of 82,365 sq kilometers that include 27 counties and cities, 16 districts, and total population exceeding 33,000,000 people! In addition to Chongqing's newly elevated political status, the city serves as an important economic center and vital hub of communication and transportation in southwest China. Chongqing is also a heavily industrialized city that produces steel, ships, automobiles, chemicals, electronics, and textiles.
"Chongqing" means "Double Celebration". The name first conferred on the city by Zhao Dun during the Song Dynasty in commemoration of the fact that he was first made prince and later crowned emperor here. The history of the city far precedes its current name, however. The city's origin date back over 3,000 years and it is known to have served as the capital of the ancient Ba Kingdom before that kingdom fell to the expanding of Qin state in 316 B.C. In more recent time Chongqing served China's war-time capital and headquaters of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government during the war of resistance against Japan (World War II). Indeed, during the war, the island over which the Yangtze River Bridge is now built served as an airstrip for "The Flying Tigers"! After the war, Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedon participated in the famous "Chongqing Talks" here, which sought unsuccessfully to negotiate a political reconciliation between the Nationalists and the Communists.
Chongqing is also well known for its weather. The winter is the foggy season here and the city is popularly known as a city of fog. In fact, Chongqing averages 68.3 foggy days each year. In the summer, Chongqing is known as one of the "three furnaces along the Yangtze". The name is well chosen as the temperature can reach as high as 43 degrees centigrade (116 degrees Fahrenheit) while the humidity during the summer typically hovers between 90 and 95 percent.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Fengdu is located on the northern bank of the Yangtze, 176 kilometers downstream from Chongqing. Known as the "Ghost City", Fengdu is a very popular shore excursion site for tourists on the Yangtze River.
Fengdu received its reputation as the "Ghost City" in the Eastern Han Dynasty. Two officials from the imperial court--Wang Fang Ping and Ying Chang Sheng were bored with political life in the court and came to Mt. Minshan outside Fengdu city to practice Taoist teachings. Both of them later became immortals by carrying out self-cultivation. When combined together, their surnames Yin and Wang sound very much like "King of Hell" in Chinese. Hence the people began to call Fengdu the "Ghost City".
To Chinese people, the social structure in hell is exactly like that in the real world. In hell, a spirit goes through the whole bureaucracy to be finally judged. Those pure of spirit will be rewarded and those sinful of spirit will be subjected to severe punishments.
Different punishment would be given to different kinds of sins. The temples built on Mt. Minshan display punishing instruments and wild demon images, which vividly depict the Chinese people's imagination of Hell.
Landmarks on the hill bear horrible names--Ghost Torturing Pass, Tower of Last Glance to Home, No Way Out Bridge, and River of Blood.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Shibaozhai represents one of the gems of Chinese architecture along the banks of the Yangtze River. From afar, the protruding 220-meter (720 foot) hill on the north bank can appear to resemble a jade seal, and is so named. The creation of the hill is attributed to the goddess Nuwo, who caused a rockslide while she was redecorating the sky after a fierce battle between two warring dukes.
A red pavillion hugs one side of this rock. Its tall yellow entrance gate is decorated with lions and dragons and etched with an inscription inviting the visitor to ascend into a 'Little Fairyland'. The temple at the top was built during the reign of the Emperor Qianlong (1736-96) and access to it was by an iron chain attached to the cliff. A nine-storied wooded pavilion was added in 1819 so that monks and visitors to the temple would not have to suffer the discomforts of the chain ascent. In 1956, three more stories were added. Each floor is dedicated to the famous generals of the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-65), local scholars and renowned Chinese poets. The rising waters of the river have surrounded the pagoda, which is preserved with a tiny dam of its own, but left on an island.
In front of Ganyu Palace at the top of the Jade Seal Hill is the Duck Hole. It is said that as spring turns to summer, if you take a live duck and drop it through the hole, it will quickly reappear swimming in the Yangtze. In the past, the monks apparently drew their drinking water from this hole by using a pipe made of bamboo.
The spirit wall in the temple's main hall is constructed of excavated Han-dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) bricks. The hall behind is dedicated on the right to General Zhang Fei and Yan Yan of the Three Kingdoms, and on the left to General Qin Liangyu (1576-1648) who fought bravely against the Manchu forces. A mural shows the goddess Nuwo repairing the sky.
In the rear hall are the remains of the Rice Flowering Hole. Legend has it that long ago just enough husked rice would flow up from the small hole each day for the needs of the monks and their guests. One day a greedy monk, thinking he could become rich, chiseled a bigger hole, and the rice flow ceased forever.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Wanzhou (previously known as Wanxian) is a small mountainous city known the "Gate Way to East Sichan". It is located 350 kilometers down stream from Chongqing and spreads out on both sides of the river.
This city received its name during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 ) and became a Foreign Treaty Port in 1902.
In 1926, two British gunboats bombarded the city, when the local warlord took to commandeering foreign vessels to transport his troops. Following this incident, a boycott on the loading and unloading of British vessels was enforced for several years. This became known as the Wanxian incident.
Main industries: Today, Wanxian is an important port and industrial center. Wanxian tangerines, oranges and peaches are renowned throughout China. The city's silk-spinning and weaving industries are well known in the Yangtze Gorges region.
Tourist Attraction: The exciting acrobatic show is well known in this region and there is a free market in town where local produce and crafts are sold.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
White Emperor City overlooks the western end of Qutang Gorge.
It has long been a refuge for would-be kings and poets, who have traveled here to be inspired by the majestic views of Qutang Gorge.
The great poet Du Fu is believed to have written numerous poems at the Western Pavilion on the mountain slope overlooking the Yangtze.
Legend has it that in 25AD, white vapor in the shape of a dragon rose from a well here, and Gong Sunshu, a solider who had his headquarters here declared himself the White Emperor.
Remains of the city wall can be seen on the hill behind Baidi Mountain, and a temple built to commemorate Gong's reign dates back over 1,950 years.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Wushan is situated at the confluence of the Yangtze and Daning rivers, just above the western entrance to the Wu (Witches) Gorge. The town has existed since the latter part of the Shang Dynasty (c.1600-1027 BC) and is now home to 30,000 residents. The name of the town originates with Wu Xian, a respected Tang Dynasty doctor in the imperial court who is buried on Nanling Moutain on the opposite bank of the Yangtze River.
Wushan is the administrative site of Wushan County, a mountainous region rich in medical herbs that encompasses the Daning River valley and half of the Wu Gorge. It is also the starting point for the popular boat trips through the Lesser Gorges on the Daning River. The river winds its way 33 kilometers (20 miles) through the beautiful Lesser Gorges; birds singing and monkeys chattering can sometimes be seen from both banks. The water is strikingly clear in contrast to the muddy, turgid waters of the Yangtze.
The first is Dragon Gate Gorge. In this narrow gorge, the cliffs on either bank soar to an average of 800 to 1000 meters. Mysterious plants and fungus of longevity (lingzhi) are said to grow high up on the cliff face. Two rows of square holes extending the entire length of the gorges are all that remain of ancient plank walkway. The walkway allowed easier access to salt mines far up the river. The existence of the walk way was recorded in 246 BC and was finally destroyed by the Imperial Ming army during the 17th century after a peasants uprising. Each gorge is separated by lush terraced fields where a variety of crops grow during all four seasons of the year. In the Misty Gorge, a 2,000 year old "hanging" coffin can be seen suspended on a precipice high up on the cliff-face. The coffin is a relic left over from the Ba people who inhabited the gorges region 3,500 to 1,800 years ago. At one time hundreds of these coffins could be seen throughout the Three Gorges and the Daning River, suspended from seemingly inaccessible areas on the cliff-side. The Emerald Green Gorge, the farthest from Wushan, is covered with lush bamboo grooves and foliage.
A side trip is offered through the "Mini Gorges" on the Ma Du River (a tributary of the Daning), which has picturesque rock formations, clear, swift running water, and monkeys and goats along the banks.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Board a ferry boat for a relaxing ride up this tributary of the Yangtze, which has its own attractive gorges. You will dock very close to the head of the reservoir created by the Three Gorges Dam, and switch into smaller wooden boats called "pea-pod boats". You are then poled up to the shallow, clear areas further upstream. Trackers take over where the current is strong, and pull the boats about 100 or 200 yards. Later you will sail back to the waiting ferry to return to your Victoria ship.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
One of nature's most extraordinary sculptures had been carved along the Yangtze river from Fengjie, Szechuan Province in the east: the San Xia (Three Gorges) — Qutang Xia, Wu Xia, and Xiling Xia.
The first of these three masterpieces, Qutang Xia (Qutang Gorge), is the shortest (5 miles), narrowest (500 feet), and most dramatic. Two mountains, Chijia Shan (Red Passage Mountain) and Baiyan Shan (White Salt Mountain), guard the entrance to this gorge like giant castle doors.
Below Wushan is the 25-mile long Wu Xia (Witches Gorge), with cliffs so sheer that the sun barely penetrates the precipices. This middle gorge is best known for twelve unique peaks. Often hidden in swirls of mist, six line the north side of the river and six staggared peaks stand to the south.
The most famous, Shennu Feng (Goddess Peak), resembles a kneeling maiden. The final gorge, Xiling Xia (Xiling Gorge), is the longest (41 miles) and the deepest - its cliff walls rise to 4,000 feet. It is actually comprised of seven smaller gorges, whose varied names — Military Books and Precious Sword, Rice Granary, Ox Liver and Horse Lungs, Yellow Ox, Bright Moon, Lantern Shadow, and Yellow Cat — are all based upon ancient legends.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Begun in 1994 and completed in 2009, the Three Gorges Dam is the largest water conservancy project ever undertaken by man. The Dam is located near Sandouping, which is in the middle of the Xiling Gorge, the longest of the Three Gorges.
The Three Gorges Dam is 2,335 meters long, 185 meters high, 18 meters wide on the top and 130 meters wide at the bottom. The dam has raised the river to a level of 175 meters above sea level, creating a 600 kilometers long reservoir with storage capacity of 39.9 billion cubic meters extending from the dam site all the way to Chongqing. 570,000 acres of farmland, villages, and cities in 19 counties have been flooded, causing 1.5 million people to be relocated.
The estimate for construction of the project is 26 billion US dollars. The building of this huge dam was for the purpose of flood control, electricity, navigation, and irrigation.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Board a motorcoach to tour this new city, also known as Maoping, built to accommodate families relocated as a result of the rising waters brought about by the Three Gorges Dam project.
New Zigui was built high on the hills above the river. On the way you will pass very close to the Three Gorges Dam, providing a new and interesting perspective, and you will enjoy nice views of the river below.
Visit a house in a small migrant village of resettled farmers. You will have an opportunity to question its dwellers, and view a garden and livestock in the backyard.
On the way back to the ship, make a brief stop in the central square of the new town, and the quaint new city wall around the square. The area includes a small kindergarten, internet cafes, and many adjoining apartments for the city dwellers, much of it done in more traditional architectural style.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
The construction of the Gezhouba (Gezhou Dam) changed this sleepy first-century town into a thriving metropolis. Situated at the entrance to the Xiling Gorge, it is the economic and cultural center of the western Hubei Province. In addition to the soaring locks of the Dam, the Three Travellers Cave, just six miles northwest of the city, is awe-inspiring. Here, both Tang-dynasty and Song-dynasty poets inscribed poems on the cave's walls. Throughout the ages, other visiting literati have offered their own contributions.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Wuhan is set on the west Jianghan Plain, a region that has more water area than land. It is the biggest city in central China and the capital of Hubei province - a province where the land is so productive that there is a Chinese saying "a good harvest in Hunan and Hubei would feed the whole country."
Located at the confluence of the Yangtze River and Han River, the longest tributary of the Yangtze, Wuhan is composed of three seperate cities: Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang.
Wuhan has a very convenient transportation and communication system. No matter by bus or train, it takes less than 24 hours to Beijing in the North, Shanghai in the East, Guangzhou in the South and Chongqing in the West. Wuhan was first settled in the first century during the Three Kingdom era as a part of the Wu Kingdom - Wuchang is the oldest of the three cities. By the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), Wuhan was the capital of the region and was enclosed by a city wall until the end of the 19th century. Wuhan has played an important role in the modern Chinese history. In the late 19th century, a farsighted official of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Zhang Zhi Dong, established factories and an arsenal in Hanyang to begin the industrializing Movement of China.
Main Industries: Steel, heavy machinery, textiles, chemicals, and shipbuilding.
Tourist Attractions: Yellow Crane Tower, Yangtze River Bridge, East Lake, and Wuhan Museum.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Located on the Southern bank of the lower Yangtze in Anhui province, Mt. Huang has greatly influenced traditional Chinese landscape painting. It has attracted many celebrated scholars and historical figures, as the scenery here inspired many great painters in history. The scenery of the mountain is also a very popular subject for scenery photography.
Nanjing - "Southern Capital" - is located on the Southern bank in the lower reaches of the Great Yangtze River and is the capital of Jiangsu province. A walled town was built during the Eastern Han period (25-220 AD) known as "Stone City".
Nanjing was thought to be propitious as well as strategically important. Eight dynasties established their capitals in the city between the third and fourteenth centuries. In the sixth century, the Sui Dynasty established its capital at Xlan and ordered the complete destruction of early dynastic building in Nanjing. The city flourished again during the Tang Dynasty when the great poets Li Bai, Bei Ju Yi, Liu Yu XI lived here for a while. The founder of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuan Zhang set up his capital here, building palaces, temples, and pagodas. He enlarged the city wall to make it the longest city wall in the world.
In 1842 the British forced the Imperial Qing government to sign The Treaty of Nanking aboard HMS Cornwallis to end the first opium war. The treaty was the first of the famous unequal treaties; according to the term of the treaty, China was forced to cede the territory of Hong Kong to Britian and open four Chinese ports to foreign trade.
Main industries: Machinery, iron and steel, refined oil, processed food, chemicals, textiles, electronics, motor vehicles, and shipbuilding.
Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Mausoleum: It is Nanjing's most famous landmark. The Mausoleum was completed in 1929 as a memorial for the father of the Chinese Republic. The remains of Dr. Sun Yat Sen are beneath a recumbent marble statue of him in the circular crypt behind the memorial hall of Sun Yat Sen.
The Ming Tomb: The first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty was buried here in 1398 along with his Empress. The tomb is recorded as having taken convict labourers three years to complete. Most of the buildings have been destroyed.
Linggu Monastery (Valley of the Soul Monastery): In order to build this mausoleum on an auspicious site, the Ming emperor, Hong Wu, first had to remove an existing temple to its present wooded peak. All that remains of the Ming Temple is the 46 meter long Beamless Hall, made of brick with no supporting wooden beams. A handsome pallou or gateway leads to the hall. The present Linggu Monastery dates from the late Qing Dynasty and is occupied by a community of monks.
Fu Zi Miao (Confucius Temple): A newly developed area where Qing-style buildings house shops and restaurants. The city fathers have recreated the bustling bazaar that clustered around Song Dynasty's Confucius Temple which stood here. The temple was destroyed by the Japanese in the 1940's and has been reconstructed.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
The city of Shanghai - "On the Sea" - is located on the banks of the Huang Pu Jiang River with Jianshu province to the north and Zhejiang province to the south. It is one of four centrally administered municipalities of China, with a population of more than 13 million people. Shanghai is the second largest city in China. It is also one of China's most important industrial and cultural centers. Shanghai was once named the "Paris of the East" and now calls itself the "Pearl of the Orient". The name "Shanghai" was first used in 960 AD when the settlement was just a backwards fishing village on the East China Sea. In 1554, the town was surrounded by a city wall and a moat to protect it against Japanese pirates known as "Wokou". When British troops stormed its undefended walls in 1842, Shanghai was still only a country town with little importance.
Shanghai was opened in 1842 after the Opium War, when China and England signed the treaty of Nanjing, the first of China's humiliating unequal treaties with the "Modern powers". The British immediately established their first concession. The United States, France, and Japan soon followed by establishing their own concessions. The city was parceled into settlements, all of which were autonomous and immune from Chinese law.
1930's era Shanghai, with its gangsters, bustling populace and unique character evoked images of oriental mystery, romance, and vitality.
Shanghai is the birthplace of the Communist party of China. The party was founded here in 1921, at a secret meeting in the French concession. The party carried out strikes and uprisings, but these activities were violently suppressed by the nationalist government. From then on the party never stopped fighting against foreign powers and nationalists. The August 1st uprising in Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province, brought about the Communist army which eventually adopted the name "People's Liberation Army". The PLA, led by the Communists, liberated Shanghai from foreign exploitation in 1949.
Shanghai's enduring tourist appeal lies in its vitality, its rather rundown 1930 European architecture and its busling tree lined streets crammed with shops. Shanghai still has a style and flair quite different from any other Chinese city.
Tourist Attractions: Bund, Jade Buddha Temple, Jingan Temple, Yuyuan Garden, Dianshan Lake.« Previous Destination Next Destination »
Chongqing is a picturesque mountain city that clings to steep cliffs.More info
Known as the "Ghost City", Fengdu is located on the northern bank of the Yangtze.More info
Shibaozhai Temple is an architectural gem along the banks of the Yangtze River.More info
Wanzhou is a small mountainous city known the "Gate Way to East Sichan."More info
White Emperor City overlooks the western end of Qutang Gorge.More info
Wushan is the starting point for the popular boat trips through the Lesser Gorges.More info
Board a ferry boat for a relaxing ride up this tributary of the Yangtze.More info
One of nature's most extraordinary sculptures carved along the Yangtze River.More info
The Three Gorges Dam is the largest water conservancy project ever undertaken by man.More info
New Zigui was built high on the hills above the river.More info
Yichang is the economic and cultural center of the western Hubei Province.More info
Wuhan is the biggest city in central China and the capital of Hubei province.More info
The scenery at Huangshan Mountain has inspired many great painters in history.More info
A walled town built during the Eastern Han period (25-220 AD) known as "Stone City".More info
The city of Shanghai - "On the Sea" - is located on the banks of the Huang Pu Jiang River.More info