We’re not cruise people. We know that. Some years ago we had a fabulous time on a cruise in the Galapagos, but that seemed likely to be the exception more than the rule. Still, we’d always heard such great things about the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River and we figured it would be a good way for Mark to rest his knee while recovering. So we gave it a shot.After three days on a Victoria cruise, I’m even more confident we’re not cruise people. It was fine, but also confining. The food was … adequate. The scenery was nice, but even that was compromised by some pretty intense fog; it created its own beauty and own atmosphere, but you never got a great view of anything. In fact, because of the fog we got bussed around the Three Gorges Dam locks which caused us to miss the third of the gorges, so for us it was really a Two Gorges tour.
The Three Gorges Dam is an interesting story. Damming the Yangtze was first suggested by Sun Yat-sen – founding father of the Republic of China – nearly 100 years ago. After a lot of talk and dreaming, construction actually began in 1994 and the dam was completed in 2012. At this point it is the world’s largest power station, while the reservoir it created covers nearly 250 square miles.
At the same time, the project is highly controversial (though, not surprisingly, you wouldn’t have known that from what we heard from tour guides and ship personnel). The reservoir displaced some 1.3 million people, buried important archeological and cultural sites, and changes various wildlife and flora patterns. At the same time hydroelectric power is certainly better than the coal-powered plants China has otherwise relied on. And controlling flooding on the Yangtze will same many lives over the years. Some pretty significant pluses and minuses.
And so we saw it. Or saw two of the gorges, as much as was possible given the fog and rain. But we’re happier making our own arrangements and being independent; it’ll probably be a while before we do another cruise.