May 01
May Day aboard Ship

While the rest of China observed a truncated May Day celebration (normally a 1-week holiday, now a mere three days) we pressed on through the Qutang gorge, the smallest of the three gorges on the Yangtze. We also made another excursion, this time to the White Emperor City.

Old Writing

Some Chinese characters cut into the stone near the up-stream end of the gorge will soon be lost beneath the rising waters, though a duplicate inscription appears a few hundred meters downstream. This photograph may easily be the last record of this original carving, as the water is scheduled to rise a meter a day once the next phase of the dam is completed in June 2003.

Still Underwater

If you look at the next picture, you'll see we've climbed about 600 of the total 700 steps to the gates of the White Emperor's City, but after 2009, this, too will be under water and the hilltop will become an island.

600 Steps Down

The valley below used to be a village, but only the rubble remains. The new town is on the ridge to the right of this photo.

Bamboo Garden Gate

A serene gate welcomes visitors into the bamboo garden after they've ascended the 700 steps from the river's edge.

Qutang Panorama

Our local guide holds up the back of a 10-yuan bill, indicating that this gorge is depicted upon it. While the engraving is from a slightly different point, it's clearly recognizable.

National Treasure

Lulu, a national guide, stops for a moment to pose in one of the many splendid gates on this hilltop. (Normally, she'd be herding us straggling photographers to make sure we didn't fall too far behind!)

The guests on the cruise are unanimous in designating her a national treasure.

The White Emperor

Named so because steam from a well atop this hill suggested the shape of a white dragon (an imperial symbol) the regional king assumed the name the White Emperor. This statue commemorates him, though it had to be reconstructed; the effigy was beheaded during the Cultural Revolution.

Bell Pavilion

This structure at the edge of a serene garden offers an exquisite view of the river -- soon to be lake -- below.

Hanging Coffin

An actual hanging coffin, like the Hanging Coffin in situ yesterday, is shown here under glass. Chinese tourists believe that putting money in the coffin (as seen here) will result in more money in return in the future.


Two boys fish in the pond in serene bamboo garden. A police officer looks on.