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Full Circle

Day 63: The Yangtze River - Yichang to Wushan

Wushan, China 
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The Three Gorges Dam Project.
Michael Palin - Full CircleThe Witches Gorge is the gateway to Sichuan, the largest and most populous of China's twenty-one provinces. With a hundred million inhabitants and an area slightly greater than that of France it consists of a prosperous eastern plain encircled by mountains. For centuries the Yangtze gorges have been its only communication with the outiside world. The easternmost city in Sichuan is Wushan, which we reach at eight in the evening.

Porters on the landing stage fight over the heaviest pieces of baggage, and enormous loads are tied to individual shoulder poles and carried off up a steep flight of stone steps separating the river from the road. We are then transported through narrow, winding, darkened streets in the hotel coach, horn blaring and everything in our way - cars, cycles, motor tricycles, men, women and children - cast to one side.

Wushan is small town China. Foreign tourists doing the gorges spend the night on their cruise ships, and the hotel, off a scruffy courtyard on the main street, is not sophisticated. We decide the rooms might be more beautiful after a beer or two and the man who is hiring us boats for tomorrow offers to find us somewhere. He will not hear of us exploring on our own.

'I will come with you. Wushan is a dangerous town.'
Wushan, China 
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What the dam will submerge.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 63
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Wushan
  • Book page no: 91

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