Kathy went to Tai Chi exercise one early morning on the deck of our river ship; I slept in! Kathy went to a lecture/demonstration of Chinese medicine, including acupuncture; I had a beer at the bar! Kathy went to a Chinese art class on snuff bottle painting; I walked the deck visiting with total strangers! Who do you think had more fun? We both went to the mahjong class to learn how to play this ancient Chinese domino game featuring Chinese symbols on each domino. Our Victoria Katarina Yangtze River cruise ship is comfortable, and the food, mostly buffet style, is plentiful and a nice blend of Chinese and American. Advertised as the only government rated five star cruise line plying the Yangtze River, we were pleased with the overall quality.
On this day we had the special treat of docking in Shibaozhai and taking the hike to the famous “Red Pagoda” in the city. China’s tallest ancient wooden structure, the Shibaozhai Pagoda, is a worship building combining Taoism and Buddhism. It is a weathered red color with a beautiful yellow entrance with wonderful carvings. Twelve stories tall, nine of them wooden, the pagoda sits proudly against a rock monolif on what is now an island. The island was formed because the Three Gorges Dam backed up the Yangtze River, and the pagoda would have been flooded. However, because of the historical significance of the pagoda, the government built a mini-dam around the structure, causing the island to appear. In order to access the island, a new swinging bridge was built from the mainland. About 600 feet long, the bridge’s wooden planks rippled and bounced as we walked across.
On the way back to the river ship, we enjoyed shopping at the market that lined the streets. A canopy of trees and fine Chinese entry gate were pleasant additions to the walk on a temperate but muggy day. WEG