Yangtze River Cruise

I don't think I remembered to say that in order to compensate for traveling each Sunday on this trip, I took along the conference issue of the Ensign and read one talk each day while we were away. I also continued reviewing and memorizing the 25 Book of Mormon scripture mastery verses we had been challenged to learn (by our stake president). I had most of them memorized before the trip, but still had four to learn, so I didn't quite make the May 31 deadline for memorizing all of them - but I did eventually complete the task.

So, on Sunday evening (May 25), we dropped our bags off in our cabin and went to the ship's dining room for a late supper. (About 8 pm)
One of the nice things about the long travel day, today, though, was the opportunity to visit with other people on the tour. I had a nice, long visit with Claudia Kennedy, from Idaho. Bob and I have also enjoyed getting acquainted with Ronnie and Kathy Donald from near Dallas, TX. They're the only couple we know of on this trip who are not members of the church. They are really into genealogy and they teach ballroom dancing.

Our ship was pretty much identical to this one.

 View of our "stateroom" - there was also a love seat and a desk, plus a small balcony.

Interior Ship views

Monday was a very relaxing day! I got up early and took a T'ai Chi class on the Sun Deck.
Then I joined Bob for breakfast. Afterward, Dr. S. Michael Wilcox gave a wonderful lecture about the first emperors of China. It was fascinating to learn some of that history!
In the afternoon, Bob went with a group to tour the Three Gorges Dam – the world's largest hydroelectric power station – but I wasn't interested in the dam tour. He did take some good pics, though, so I'll include a few here.

 Until fairly recently, tourist had to climb a lot of stairs, so these escalators were a welcome sight.
 The Chinese seem to farm every piece of land they can — even along the stairs of the dam. (Notice how steep they are - and with no hand rails.)

In the evening we were treated to another lecture by S. Michael Wilcox. This one focused on Confucius and Mencius. He called it "Awakening the Goodness of the Human Heart." 
Leaders of the Zhou and the Q'in dynasties believed in legalism (Man is evil and must be ruled with an iron fist — forced to do good – strict legal control over all activities, a system of rewards and punishments uniform for all classes, and an absolute monarchy.) But, Confucius, and several generations later, Mencius, taught that men are good at their core if they listen to their hearts (the pure heart or child-like heart). They taught that leading in righteousness would cause the people to be righteous.

The ship's captain held a reception for everyone before dinner Monday evening, and while we were having dinner, the ship entered the first of a series of locks that would eventually raise the ship about 20 feet so we could continue up the river, toward Chongqing, our final stop.

After breakfast on Tuesday, we boarded some small sampans and took a side excursion down a tributary called "Goddess Stream." The guide on our boat was really cute and personable.

Our guide, Jelin. We all said we wanted to bring her home with us.
At the end of the tributary we got out and walked along the narrow edge of a gorge. (I'm not sure OSHA would have approved the conditions of this trek.)
 The Kennedy's - from Idaho
The tour guides sang to us at the end of our walk.
When we returned to the ship, we were treated to another lecture by Dr. Wilcox. He called this one "The Pathway of Compassion — Life and Thought of the Buddha." I have really enjoyed learning more about eastern thought and religion from Bro. Wilcox.
I can't remember if I already said this, but there are no religions that originated in China. They have philosophies, but not religions. The religions they have were imported from other countries and only a very small percentage of the population practice them. Buddhism came from India. (The Dagobas –  religious temples – in India, became Pagodas in China.)
After dinner Tuesday, the crew performed a fun cabaret show for us.

On Wednesday, after breakfast, we enjoyed another lecture by Dr. Wilcox: "Go with the Flow — Daoism/Taoism's Mastery of Living the Contented and Simple Life." It was great! I need more of the Tao in my life. . .

Later that morning, we docked in Zhongxian and walked to the Shibaozhai Pagoda, which sits outside the old city walls. In winter, the water level covers most of the old city, and the pagoda looks like an island, surrounded by water. A wall was built around the Pagoda to protect it from the flooding.

The pagoda is built into the side of a karst/mountain and is about 184 feet high. Once you are inside, there are 12 flights of very narrow, wooden stairs winding their way to the top. I walked up them, but Bob chose not to.

This is the walkway from the ship into town. There were, of course, merchants
and souvenir stalls along the way to the Old City Gate, leading to the pagoda.

These oranges looked really good, but we had been cautioned not to eat
anything that wasn't cooked, so we didn't buy any
 We passed these carriers on the ramp into town.
 A few people hired them.
The old city gate
After walking through part of the old city, we crossed a suspension bridge to get to the pagoda.

The wall around the pagoda is, itself, beautiful.

The entrance.
 The interior held little more than the staircases and a small side room on each level featuring memorials or idols.
 Climbing the stairs to the top.
These are the exterior stairs used by the monks.

 A side "room" with fertility goddesses.

 View from the top.

This port is the first time we've seen the really poor, and what a meager living they make. Here are some pics of other sights in this port:

It is hard to imagine a whole family living on these tiny boats. Yet, they do.
Doing laundry in the river.

In the late afternoon, we heard our final lecture by Dr. Wilcox (The Literature and Poetry of China), and, then, our last dinner on the ship was a more formal meal. We were served (Chinese style) at our tables instead of the usual buffet. Then, we returned to our cabin to pack and prepare for disembarking the next morning in Chongqing.

Here are some other/additional pics of sights we saw as we traveled along the river:
In one small port, where we stopped briefly, I could hear the most beautiful, haunting flute music. It took me a while to figure out where it was coming from - then I located this man. It was very sweet, standing on the sun deck of the ship, listening to him play.

Thursday morning, we got an early wake up call and by 7:30 a.m., we had all eaten breakfast, turned in our cabin keys, and collected our luggage to catch the bus in Chongqing.

Our larger pieces of luggage where handled by the tour company. However, we had to haul our own carry-on bags - a few hired locals to carry theirs — across the ship, over a couple of ramps, then across another long ramp which led to one of the longest flights of stairs we climbed the entire trip, and finally to our bus. (Luggage wheels didn't help much)

While climbing that flight of stairs, bags in tow, we felt like someone should have been playing the theme from "Rocky."