Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
374Trip End Mar 15, 2007
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5am in Chongqing and feeling pretty tired after one other bunk mate decided to grace us with a unique nasal whistling noise for most of the night that even the repeated loud use of the sort of English language unlikely to be found in any Mandarin phrase book could not lessen - I actually thought it was another train coming at one point.
Took a taxi from the station to the docks by pointing at the end point of them to the taxi driver on my map I handily got off the couple from Ohio. The driver in all his money grabbing wisdom decided to take me to the nearest Yangzi boat tour travel agency who spoke not a word of English and with some pointing and scribbling of numbers indicated they were asking for twice as much as the usual going rate for the trip
Hoofing it the rest of the way down to the docks, figured another taxi would probably just take me back to where I'd come from, I wandered around to find quite a few tour agencies open at this time in the morning with most advertising the same ticket price. One pretty persistent agent would not even take my excuse of wanting breakfast first before committing to buying a ticket so he took me round the corner to fill up on some steamed buns and bowl a runny porridge like stuff which I'm sure they were having a laugh by only handing me chopsticks to eat it with.
After managing to finally get away I found an English speak agency (always a good idea to have some kind of clue as to what you are buying beforehand) and managed to bargain a pretty good deal on a second class cabin with a trip to the three lesser gorges (side trip to a sort of mini version of the main ones) for 600 CNY. I was told 3 other English speaking foreigners were booked and that he'd put us all together so at least I would be able to communicate with some others on board beyond "xie xie."
Passing the day wandering around Chongqing I bumped into Jimmy (a bit like secret agents with their alternative English names), a born and bred local who was only too happy to take me for some of Chongqing's famous hot pot after I mentioned I was thinking of trying it
I let Jimmy order, not that I could have anyway, so we were soon digging into some hot-potted tripe, eel, potatoes, mushrooms, ducks intestine (gross), and something he said was pork but I know pork and that wasn't it.
On going to pick up my ticket I met the three other foreigners who would be on the boat, two from Sweden and one from Hong Kong who all seemed pretty cool and we got talking and looking forward to the trip with a 4 berth cabin to ourselves. However when we were handed out tickets we found we were not in the same cabin and in fact not even on the same boat. After we tried to get the agent to swap he insisted it was impossible despite saying originally he would put us together.
Boarding my boat annoyed at the agent I was soon taking out of my room before I had even set my bag down and was taking to a single 1st class with no explanation but I was certainly not complaining. Next the steward who spoke no English thrust a phone into my hand with an English speaking women on the other side who was trying to get me to pay extra to stay in the 1st class room. On declining I was soon ushered out of the room as quickly as I had been shown it and back into the originally room with 3 other Chinese who spoke about as much English as I did Chinese - this may be a long trip.
Just when things looked a little grim I met up with an all female group on a Intrepid tour of China with them coming from the far corners of Australia, UK and the US between with us all soon drinking a few beers together in the boat's restaurant as we sailed slowly down the Yangzi River.