14 March 2007

That Darn Dam - Day 3, Yangtze Cruise

The Awful, Evil Damn

12:06AM – To bed. Up at 7 tomorrow to catch a glimpse of the second gorge, then a nap before number three.

7:44PM – No updates today because I spent all night throwing up in our disgusting bathroom then all day in my disgusting bed hoping and wishing and praying that the boat would just stop moving. Thankfully Anne dragged me to the front of the boat to see gorges two and three. Our tour guide came in at 1PM and said we’d be arriving at the dam around 6PM. I nearly died, as the schedule had promised a 2PM arrival. She realized her mistake and corrected herself mid-sentence. Relief. We waited for the mob of people to deboat before dragging ourselves down, out and onto the Dam tour bus. This after crusing into port through piles of trash, debris and old clothes that were floating in the water.

The Dam was less than spectacular. While the dam itself is absolutely enormous, it’s really ugly and already looks about fifty years old. The “tour” consisted of three stops at “scenic” overlooks (essentially high plots of land that had been developed into gardens with look-out points to see the monstrous destroyer of ecosystems from different angles). The guide complemented these views with commentary that usually went something like this: “This is Three Gorges Dam from the east. It is the largest dam in the world. It shows China’s might in the world and its incredible strength of the People.” Never mind the fact that it is also the largest water polluter on the planet, has already sent a dozen species to extinction and is already showing signs of cracking. It was obvious, however, that most of the Chinese tourists were more impressed with dam than the three gorges themselves. Now that’s depressing.

In Yichang now (where we were once again screwed by a taxi driver) thinking back on the cruise and what I feel like I have learned. The scenery was absolutely incredible; some of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen, but the overall experience has left me somewhat disenfranchised with my adopted home. Tibet made me angry and the cruise has left me upset. You can only watch someone pee over the side of the boat or throw their trash right into the water so much before you start to get frustrated. This country is full of magnificent scenery and world treasures but instead of appreciating them they’ve decided to throw trash into the Yangtze and bury cities and historic relics under water, not to mention build a bobsled run on the Great Wall of China. Just so sad. I’m hoping for change, but I don’t have too much faith, to be honest. Only time will tell.

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