The Wu Gorge was on our schedule for 4:30 p.m. with dinner on our return at 8:30. However, the day turned wet with light rain and mist by midday. A PA announcement advised dinner changed to 5:30 with departure at 6:30. Adding insult to injury, dinner was then rushed to end at 6:00 with the same departure time. I wondered if this was a worthwhile endeavor because of the wet spray and low ceiling clouds. I thought maybe an adventure awaited and against my better judgement, rushed to catch the bus with our group.
Robert, our first guide in Beijing, had another group on-board. When we left for the Three Gorges Dam, he took the English Group 8 under his wing. A local man, Max, was our bus excursion guide. I don’t believe he knew how to do anything but smile and appear happy. Even over the loud speaker, his soft voice and thick accent were difficult to understand and he wasn’t informative. At one point, Robert pitched in to help.
The weather grew more miserable as we continued. We arrived after an hour or so. Already, it was too dark to see anything but we were hustled into the Visitor Center. The women had the Happy House as the first order of business. We lined up for tickets to see the indoor replica of the gorge. It was beautiful and I took photos.
My hands shook with excitement, grateful we’d arrived safely, and ecstatic to see this perfect model (the reason for these shaky pictures).
The real deal wasn’t in the cards. Whose idea was it to go ahead with this tour so late? Might anyone be anything but dissatisfied? I was, wouldn’t you be?
All manner of souvenirs we’d seen everywhere were displayed in the gift shop: pearls, various colors of jade, tee shirts, as well as books about the Gorges. Ten minutes to shop and then outside into the drizzle with the local guide (Max) to the observation area, which I couldn’t make out. The pillars he pointed out were swathed in mystery like in a bad Sci-Fi movie, similar to Mount Olympus in the clouds, all mist and vapor with an inky black void below.
Robert announced our urgent return by 9:30 because the ship had been scheduled to go through the locks by 1:00 a.m. I had doubts about the bus tires in the rain as we rushed back. What a waste of another hour plus the cost of gasoline.
Rain, and dark proved to be bad companions for an enjoyable tour. I decided to disregard negative feelings, but in truth I should have paid attention to my gut. The trip was a waste of three-and-a half-hours driving in rain and biting my nails to stubs.
Upon our return, crew members with flashlights lit our way back from the bus to the ship because of the dark and slippery conditions.
“Watch your step.”
“Watch your step. Be careful.”
“We missed you.”
Cheesy, I know, but I was miserable, and couldn’t help half-believing the words after I’d heard them a half-dozen times. Jokingly, I said, “I missed you too.”
Weird what wet weather and misery will force me to do. I almost believed their words—not.
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Next on January 9: On the Yangtze River: Day 15, Part 5 (the locks)
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