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Full Circle

Day 64: Wushan

Michael Palin - Full CircleMr Huo, who insists I call him Victor, is to be our guide to the Three Little Gorges of the Danning River, a tributary of the Yangtze. He is slim and dapper with lightly tinted glasses in very big frames. Mindful of what we have heard about rapids and low temperatures in dark gorges, we all look dressed for an Arctic expedition. Victor wears a thin, oatmeal-coloured sweater and carries a handbag.

We drive down to the waterfront past the coal-loading area. Below a faded mural with the English legend 'You are welcome my dear friends. May the beautiful scenes in Mount Wu make a deep impression on you', coal is being loaded from wind-blown heaps by a constant shuttle of blackened, bandy-legged labourers with hods and shoulder poles. This is the old China, where machines are few and expensive and human effort plentiful and cheap.

But once on the unspoilt jade-green waters of the Danning River with spectacularly sheer walls enclosing a huge stillness, the beauty of the natural landscape is breathtaking and, with the prospect of the water level being raised 570 feet once the dam is built, there will not be long to see it.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 64
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Wushan
  • Book page no: 92

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