12.05.2015 - 13.06.2015 26 °C
Day 7 Chongqing – May 12, 2015
Our two hour flight was uneventful and we arrived in Chongquin in mid afternoon. Chongqing (formerly Chungking) is China’s largest inland city with over 30 million people and plans for more growth. It is a modern city built in a very hilly area with modern high rise buildings perched at odd angles everywhere.
Massive condo complexes being built in Chongqing
Upon arrival and as usual prior to boarding our bus our luggage was assembled near the baggage carousel. We each had to verify that each of our individual pieces had safely arrived and were in good condition. The luggage would then be whisked off to be delivered to our staterooms on the ship. We would next see our luggage sitting “dock” near our ship ready to be hand carried on board.
Our luggage about to be transported to the ship
For much of our travel in China we have been impressed with the transportation facilities. Airports are modern and efficient as is local transit. Therefore we were more than a little surprised when we arrived at the ship loading location. It was a major construction site with lots of heavy equipment operating immediately adjacent to our walkway. We were also dismayed to find our ship located down a long set of steep stairs, across a long mud flat plus a stretch of shallow water – not a very fancy way to board! Our river boat was tied up a significant distance from the river bank meaning we had to walk along a long temporary structure running across a dozen or so floating pontoons. Although relatively stable there was plenty of movement as over 200 of us made our way across this floating Baily Bridge like structure to our boat.
We were also amazed to discover that all of our heavy luggage would be carried along this obstacle path by local porters in the ancient way using long bamboo poles to support our luggage on each side. Note such a pole in the picture of the luggage above. It must have been quite a challenge carrying large loads of luggage to the ship but none appeared to have been lost overboard. To be fair it appears that the major construction will one day be a more modern and convenient docking facility.
This was our first exposure to the challenges of docking along the Yangtze. Because of the Three Gorges Dam nearly 600 km downstream the river level rises and falls as much as 50 vertical feet from season to season as flood waters are held back and then gradually released over the following months. We are just entering the rainy season so the Yangtze was now at its lowest level of the year so it appears much like low tide on the Bay of Fundy in Atlantic Canada. We would see the effects of this immense rise and fall of the water level constantly as we make our way down the Yangtze over the next 5 days.
Stairway leading to the floating walkway out to our boat
Floating walkway leading out to our boat. Water is at the seasonal low level
Sue, Roy and Dave walking along the long pontoon bridge leading to our ship the Viking Emerald
Chongqing is the gateway to the navigable part of the Yangtze. The Yangtze is the 3rd longest river in the world – over 6000 km. For hundreds of years the Yangtze has been a major commercial corridor in the country and it still fulfills that important function.
The Viking Emerald is a modern purpose-built tour ship and was built in 2011 so has the look and features that you would expect on a large river cruise ship. She carries 256 guests and every stateroom has a verandah. We are in cabins 337 and 339. This is as far up the Yangtze as most small cargo ships can go so it is a major port with lots of shipping activity along the river.
We were glad to board ship and locate our new homes for the next 5 days and to explore various venues on the ship.
Our cabin aboard the Viking Emerald
Another view of our cabin
Our shipboard neighbours, Sue and Roy
The main dining room
The main lobby
The upper deck
The Emerald Bar
We had a cocktail in the bar and then headed to our first wonderful dinner aboard the Emerald before returning to our cabins to find our luggage, unpack and get ready for the start of our trip. As we sailed away from Chongqing with several other cruise boats, we said good bye to the skyline and bright lights.
Local smaller ship leaving with us
Local dinner cruise ship passing by us
Chongqing Skyline – note how they love to decorate their buildings with LED lights