Our Viking River Cruise on the "Viking Emerald" began (after 4nights in Beijing and a visit to Xian) in CHONGQING, China, a key port on the Yangtze river. Chongqing is a bustling metropolis of 9million people. We were able to spend some time in the hill top, city center shopping promenade with many foreign and locally owned department and specialty stores. People watching (and them watching us) made this a delightful visit.
SHIBAOZHAI, Temple - a visit well worth it with a spectacular view from the top of the 12 story high red wooden pagoda. Literal translation "Stone Treasure Fortress" has a height of 184 feet and looks like a giant bonsai from the ship.
A leisurely walk through the ancient town, past many of the entrepreneurial locals waiting for the next tour group to come by, will take you over the suspension bridge to the Temple.
A good stop for those "must have" souvenirs. Don't forget to use your bargaining skills.
LESSER THREE GORGES, WU & QUTANG GORGES scenic cruising on a local vessel will keep you in "Awe....and Oooo...throughout this spectacular, scenic excursion.
THE YANGTZE RIVER is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization and the stunning scenery makes the Three Gorges cruise a "must do". Yangtze river goes by many local names but most famous "Chang Jiang"(Long River). An old saying goes - "if you haven't traveled the Chang Jiang you haven't been anywhere"!
SANDOUPING a charming "new" village is where Viking Emerald docked -close to the site of the Three Gorges Dam project. The local vendors will vie for your business upon your return from the Dam excursion. (Bartering skill a plus.)
The THREE GORGES DAM has a length of approx. 1.4miles and height of 607 feet.
The region is historically and culturally important. Besides producing electricity, the dam is intended to increase shipping capacity and reduce potential floods downstream. We came down river through 5sets of locks at the dam - each holding our 110meter long Viking Emerald vessel, 2 large barges plus anonther somewhat slightly smaller cruise ship.
The trip through the locks took approx. an exiting 3 1/2hrs. The Dam has been controversial both in China and around the world. 1.3 million people were displaced by this historic engineering project.
In conversation with the local people, they look at it as a social and economic success; but not without heartaches, especially for the older generation who had to abandon their homes, never to return.
The excursion to the Dam Site is extremely interesting, modern and informative.
Long escalators take visitors to the top of the Dam site, from there some downhill walking is involved and not suitable for everyone. Shuttles are available at some point at the lower level for a small fee.
Hopefully FREE shuttle service will be made available in the future for those passengers with walking difficulties from the Top Information Center and Gift shop!
JINGZHOU visit to the "VIKING HOPE SCHOOL"
A cultural ancient city with a 2000 year history. We delighted in a bus trip through the local countryside of rice, lotus flower fields and local manufacturing plants, with our prime visit to the "VIKING HOPE SCHOOL".
We were joyfully welcomed by youngster ages 8 -12; enthusiastically entertaining us with song and dance and a drum routine on an open air stage.
Following the outdoor entertainment each child proudly showed each visitor to their classroom seat. We had a brief Chinese lesson and all sang "Old McDonald had a Farm". They enjoyed having their pictures taken with us and many made origami birds and presented them to us.
WUHAN - one of the major cultural centers in China and capital of Hubei Province; a city with an ancient history and thriving present. Historic relics excavated from ancient tombs tell a history dating back 3,500years.
During our brief visit we enjoyed a bronze bell performance and visit to the Hubei Provincial Museum.
China had long been on our "Bucket List" and we could not have wished for a better way to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary then the Viking River -
Imperial Jewels of China Cruise and Tour. On our anniversary we walked the
GREAT WALL of CHINA. Memories to last a lifetime and many new friends from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
The food on board was very good, with plenty of variety to choose from. Oliver Wiesiolek, Food & Beverage Manager/Maitre 'd always greeted us with a welcome smile. Maggie and Sally showed their love for their job by serving us quickly and with enthusiasm. They surprised us with an anniversary cake which
we shared with our new found friends.
We started our days with Master Tom and Tai Chi exercise on the sundeck. Afternoons were enjoyed with A Tea Ceremony, Vegetable carving, Bingo and Chinese Painting Demonstration.
Evening entertainment was presented by the talented Staff - with a variety of Ancient Dress and dance routines and a Crew Cabaret Show.
Being avid dancers, we did not know what to expect for dance music on a China Cruise....but we were most pleasantly surprised with the great repertoire of old and new hits played and sang to by Josephine and Amin(from the Philippines - they were terrific and we danced the night away!
Where in the World will our journey takes us next?