Day 0 - Arrive Shanghai
Day 1 - Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing
Day 2 - Mt Jui Ha
Day 3 - Jinddezhen
Day 4 - Wuhan
Day 5 - Dongting Lake, 3 Gorges Dam and The Three Gorges
Day 6 - More 3 Gorges and the Lesser 3 Gorges
Day 7 - Shibaozhai
Day 8 - Fengdu (Snow Jade Cave)
Day 9 - Chongqing
Day 10 - Shanghai
Next day - Depart Shanghai
If you have been looking at a China tour, you might note that our Shanghai to Shanghai river tour does not exist today unless you really go looking for it. As best as I can tell, our trip was part of a one season experiment by Viking that didn't work out because they never offered it again. Viking's trial tour was a 17 day trip that included the above river cruise and a visit no Beijing and to Xian (the Terracotta Army). Now all that anybody seems to offer is
We saw Shanghai from bus as we drove out of town. Suzhou, called the Venice of the East by some (others say its a nearby town), Suzhou has two or three very attractive gardens, canals and quaint streets. Wish we had more time there. Seeing first had the process of taking a cocoon from the silk tree turned into silk cloth was interesting, but way too much time in the store. Nanjing, a great historic and tours it town, was a drive though on the way to the boat dock.
Mt Jui Ha was one of the stars of the tour, and the only place where we escaped the smog, 6, 000 ft above the river. Mt Jui Ha is one of only 4 holy Buddhist mountains, whatever that means. Being a Holy Mountain, there is a flat terrace near the top of Mt Jui Ha covered with closely packed temples from various eras and of greatly differing degrees of elaborateness in their decoration. A group of saffron robbed monks were holding a service in one of the oldest temples. Visitors were allowed inside as long as we stayed behind the ropes. A big sign said, "no Photography. " I was standing beside a professional photographer and I heard his camera click. I looked over at him and no camera in sight. Afterward, I said to him, "I heard your camera take picture in the no photos zone. What gives?"
He wrapped his camera strap around his wrist, and placed the camera in the palm of his had so that the lens was pointing in the same line as his palm, and he said, "If you hold the camera like this, down at your side, your arm fully extended, you can point it by pointing your palm at what you want to photograph." it's the same mental process as is used in catching baseball-- point your palm at the target. You don't watch your palm or glove when you catch a ball, you watch the ball, and your palm sees it. I now have a bunch of photos of banned subjects taken from the palm of may right hand. This is a learned skill. A lot of my early efforts have a tilted horizon, but not so much lately.
Mt Jui Ha is a spectacular tourist sight. Kudos to Viking for taking us there.
Jinddezhen. Corporations go to some length to build "good will" (think of all the "we are with you" commercials broadcast by all sorts of business during the covid19 crisis) such as contributions to local charities, broadly defined. Our Walmart regularly reports how much money it has donated to the local schools. And the Viking corporation contributes charitable money to help fund an elementary school in the otherwise very nondescript city. We spent a morning visiting the school.
See tip A Day in Wuhan
On our stop at Dongting Lake, we visited a park with nice gardens and an old pagoda. We stopped for a taste of the famous local white tea, a tea that does not turn the mater brown when brewed. It also has a rather different taste.
3 Gorges Dam and The Three Gorges. If it weren't for the damn smog, you might be able to see to the other side of the dam. The Lesser Three Gorges are a tributary to the more famous and deeper 3 Gorges. We had to transfer to smaller boats. All in all, I liked the Lesser Gorges views better that the famed 3 Gorges. We saw wild monkeys along the river's edge. Its a round trip, transfer to the maser boat, go up the lesser gorges, Turn around, and return to the ship. Then sail on through the 3 Gorges.
After more gorges scenery, we stopped to visit a taller pagoda than the one at Dongting Lake. No big deal, not even a little deal.
Fengdu today is not what Fengdu was then. When the 3 Gorges Dam flooded the 3 Gorges, more that 1, 000, 000 people were displaced when the rising water level drowned their towns and farms. China built new towns above the new water line, and today's Fengdu is one of the new towns. There is nothing to see in Fengdu. The point of stopping at Fengdu was to visit the spectacular Snow Jade Cave. After the cave tour and a late lunch back on the ship, I went to explore the town, and there was nothing to see. . However, I came a cross an art store which is where we acquired most of our souvenirs from out China trip, including a painted 12 ft long scroll that cost $15 after a little dickering. See Tip Visiting Snow Jade Cave, Chongqing, China.
We arrived at the great industrial city Chongqin, overnight. After breakfast, a trip into town, not much to see except the worst smog yet, , and then off to the airport for a return fight to Shanghai and overnight at the Westin Bund Center.
Some unscheduled sights seen on the daily bus tours:
Somewhere, some night, for some reason, some locals were launching miniature hot air balloons into the sky, essentially a paper bag with a candle at its open end. Even the crew came on deck to see it, and had no explanation for it. Several of the things landed on the sun deck of our ship, That's how we know how they were made. Whatever it was, it was a treat.
Save hours researching attractions and navigating public transport by having a driver to take you to Shanghai's best sites. Highlights include The Yuyuan Garden, taking part in a tea ceremony, a dim sum lunch, visiting the French Concession, and The Bund.
Shop till you drop in Shanghai local market. Get unforgettable shopping experience in most popular local markets: Fabric market, Tea market, off brand market, antique market, etc. Taste 3 different kind of tea and recognize what it is. Seek out a bargain or pick up some unique souvenirs in off brand, antique market.