With such a tight schedule something was bound to go awry - we've just missed our train to Shanghai by 1 minute, and there's not another service until tomorrow, and we don't have enough time to spare to stay here (Yichang) for the night. So instead we're catching a train straight to Beijing tonight, and missing out Shanghai. Bit annoyed as I really wanted to see the city, I guess i'll just have to come back in the future!
The river cruise was cool, but a bit of a disappointment really. The giant tin can that we were on was a bit grotty, but our room wasn't too bad - we shared it with two generous chinese guys, and two girls who burst into giggles any time the laowai (foreigners) tried to speak to them! The Three Gorges were gorgeous! (sorry!) In fact they weren't all that, but yesterday we took a small boat off up a tributary to see what are called the Three Little Gorges, which were much more dramatic than their bigger siblings, due to the narrow river and incredibly steep sides.
I'm glad I've been able to see the gorges before they are submerged in 2009, when the massive 3 Gorges Dam project is completed - It's a bit of a controversial sceheme and will leave 1.5 million people needing to be rehomed and huge expanses of environment underwater. The Yangtze is probably the brownest river in the world due to the incredible amount of silt that it transports. Apparently some experts think that the dam, which has cost US$70 billion dollars, will just stop working in a few years due to the turbines getting all silted up. Oh well, it just seems like megalomaniacal lunacy to me!
Last night we were held captive by the boat's crew - we stopped for the night at some docks, but weren't allowed off for some reason, and the restaurant was closed, leaving us foodless, and we ended up eating weird cakey things from the ship-shop and drinking beer with the only other westerners on board - a cool couple from Southampton, while being serenaded by the massive horns of the other ferries around us hooting at each other.
So today we disembarked the boat earlier than expected - it seems that flooding meant we couldn't go through the massive Gezhou Dam, and had to catch a bus to Yichang where we were meant to catch our train. We arrived with abour 20 minutes to spare but had to find the travel agent with our tickets first, then set off on a mad dash across the city in a taxi to the station, only to find that the train had departed one minute before we arrived.
So it's onwards to Beijing, looking forward to the Great Wall and some good Peking duck, yum yum!