Yangtze Cruising--August 31, 2004--Shi Baozhai
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When we awoke this morning, we had docked and the view from our cabin's window was photo 152. We had arrived at Shi Baozhai and were about to tour the Precious Stone Pagoda. Built in 1662 during the Qing Dynasty, the 12 story wooden pagoda, attached to an adjacent cliff, is constructed without a single nail and gets progressively smaller as one proceeds to the top.
We left the ship and went through the bazaar (154-157) to reach the pagoda (159). Immediately, we saw the marker for the 175 meter level to which the Yangtze will rise when the Three Gorges Dam is complete. By that time, a huge dam will have been constructed around the pagoda, which will then be on an island to which visits will still be possible. The current bazaar will have to be relocated since its level will be under water.
Photo 163 shows a list of contributors to the original construction (like patrons in today's fund raising). From the location of the plaque, we began the climb to the top of the pagoda (56 meters) and found the stairways becoming more and more narrow. Finally, to reach the twelfth and highest level, we climbed a ladder to enter the tiny room at the top containing the circular window (174-176). Various photos from the pagoda show the Victoria Queen cruise ship (164, 168) and some of the surrounding new developments, where the population is being relocated, in anticipation of the coming flooding (161, 169, 177).
Having completed our morning jaunt, we returned to the ship and, after lunch, toured the bridge (180-183). No longer permitted on large cruise ships because of security reasons, there was no problem arranging a bridge tour on the Victoria Queen. A crew of four staffs the bridge at all times and seemed to be intently concentrating on both the location of the river channel and the variety of river traffic they must avoid.
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