(Sorry, no photos for this post)
I awoke at 5:50. Outside, the weather looked dull and overcast and / or foggy—not smog, I hoped. I called it misty because we were on the water after all. The previous night, we’d set sail around 10:00 p.m., but were stationary when Sue and I went to breakfast.
Sue had played with the alarm clock the night before, not sure if it would work. It buzzed at 6:20 a.m., exactly as she’d set it, but we were already up.
The shower tiny, but efficient, had a rounded, two-door closure, one shoved toward the other till they met in the center. If I hadn’t been forced in front of this seam blocking water like a shield, the floor would have been drenched. I’m pleased to report the water was hot.
We went to the Early Bird breakfast (7:00 – 7:30 a.m.) for the free coffee and arrived at 6:55. It was pleasant to linger over three coffees and sweet rolls.
I didn’t take inventory at breakfast 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.), but I had a hard-boiled egg, buns covered in sunflower seeds, strawberry jam, yogurt (plain and watery, but sweet—maybe too sweet), white cheese slices. No need to rush to Early Bird the next day as the coffee was free at the regular breakfast as well. What was Ivy, our presenter the previous night, thinking when she advised it was only free at 7:00 a.m.? Maybe it was the way she said it that we’d misunderstood. I had the feeling she was quite proud of her English and I confess it was quite good and 1000 percent better than my Chinese. Maybe she meant coffee was available for early risers?
I chose to pass on the morning excursion to the Red Cliffs (9:00 – 11:00), not because I had a need to be alone, but because I wanted some free time, and to wash out a few things and relax. Sue, however, looked forward to this tour.
Images of Red Cliffs Ruins in Chibi
While I enjoyed some lazy time sitting on the balcony, the maid came in to make up the room. I told her she didn’t need to, we would. No. She had to do it. After making the beds, she’d gone into the bathroom and came right out again. “One towel and one face cloth missing.” Eyes wide, her hands and voice trembled. I almost laughed aloud.
“I washed some tee shirts and wrapped one in the towel to draw out the water faster.”
“You can give to Laundry.” She pulled herself together and reached for the pricing brochure on the desk.
“Maybe next time,” I said even as I had no intention on following through with my lie. I unrolled my Tees and handed over the towel and face cloth.
The Yangtze is a true yellow, and dirty, harboring floating junk here and there. All the junk was small and a few branches, not large chunks of anything. I couldn’t help picturing someone emptying a bucketful of cigarette butts as I saw those as well. In spots I noticed large and small ripples as if there were a sandbar underneath—I hoped not. I knew the ripples weren’t from the ship stirring the water because we weren’t moving, but waited for the excursion group to return.
Lots of rusting barges and tugboats transported coal, sand, and gravel. I couldn’t imagine anyone fishing in this river. Would they? A blue ship with three white decks passed by. Automobiles took up every square inch of deck space. I can’t recall what make the cars were, though.
After Sue left, an alarm went off. An announcement over the PA advised this was a fire drill, but to stay in our cabins. The drill was cancelled a while later, and I decided to go to Reception to use the Internet.
The second floor was chock full of crew members wearing life-jackets over gorgeous blue uniforms. It appeared a health and safety meeting was in progress. A handsome, thirty-something man in a navy uniform (the only one with gold braiding on the cuffs and outfitted with a life-jacket as well), stood aside to allow me past. Face hot, I plodded through the other end of the same group again as I burned my way to Reception.
Next on December 19, On the Yangtze River, Day 13, Part 2 (
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