THREE GORGES DAM & THE YANGTZE RIVER
A gorge is a valley river or stream between hills or canyons. The Chinese blasted off thousands of these hills, canyons and ancient towns and cities to enlarge this river. The Yangtze is the world’s third largest river (about 6300 km or 3900 miles long), after the Amazon and Nile. It flows from Qinghai, Tibet to the East China Sea at Shanghai. We embarked our cruise at Yichang, that is, upstream from Shanghai to our destination, Chongqing. From Zhangjiajie, Changsa, the coach drove south west to Yichang, Hubei Province. The three gorges are Xiling Gorge, Wu Gorge and Qutang Gorge; the Dam is located at a small town, Sandouping, Xiling Gorge.
The Three Gorges Dam and Reservoir is one of the world’s largest hydroelectric power station. It generates clean energy (22,500 MW) to about a third of Chinese population, living on the costal areas of Wuhan and shanghai. The Dam was built to prevent flood, and provided better modern navigation. Some US25 billion was spent, but the tourist trade might offset the cost partially. It relocated about 1.3 million people, over a construction period of 17 years. Naturally it cost environmental impact, such as flow of water affecting marine lives (paddlefish, porpoise, dolphin and alligators with diminishing numbers); mud silting, erosion and even earthquakes in the region.It also cause wide relocation of people, but after some initial unrest, the people resettled well and are well compensated.
When we returned to our cruise after the tour, many passengers penned their feeling for the day in the open book provided. I think they were all written in Chinese, some were poetic verses. I penned four lines to express my feeing and thoughts:
STEPS AND STEPS
It was the cruise of the century;
Opened the windows of our hearts to history;
Printed our legs on the steps, left our love on the banks;
With folded palms, I sang my praise with thanks.