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Day Seven - From Wuhan to the Yangtze River
Wuhan, Jingzhou, City Walls, Boarding the Ship
Our flight to Wuhan did not arrive until 10:00 P.M. By the time we collected our luggage and rode the 40 minutes on the bus, it was after 11:00 P.M. when we got to the hotel. Here in Wuhan we are staying in the Howard Johnson's Pearl Plaza Hotel. It was yet another lovely hotel. There is a huge globe at the top of the hotel that houses a bar and a restaurant. A few of us went up to have a look. There were great views, but we couldn't photograph anything because the windows were all double-paned. Even if the camera was up against the near glass, you got reflection from the other.
It was very late and we had to be up early the next morning so I didn't take any photos of the hotel. Here are a few I got from the web.
However, I did do a few shots of the view from the window in our room.
And again in the morning.
Our luggage had to be ready very early and left outside the door. That seems to be standard practice over here. Then someone comes around and picks it all up and gets it loaded on the bus, supervised by our fabulous tour guide, Zhang Lu. Then we were off to breakfast at another lovely buffet with oh so many choices. After breakfast we met at 8:30 A.M. and loaded the bus. All we ever got to see of Wuhan was driving out of the city. In other words, not much!
National City Bank of New York, built in 1921
Hankou's Custom House, built in 1922. Notice the well-camoflaged communications tree on the left
New suspension bridge in the works
Even though Wuhan sits right on the Yangtze River, we needed to go to Jingzhou to board the ship. After leaving Wuhan we actually got to see a little bit of the countryside of China. We hadn't seen too much before this. It's all been big cities. However, it was raining and it was difficult to photograph through the windows of the bus with all the raindrops on the windows.
We finally arrived in Jingzhou - our jumping off place for the Yangtze River Cruise.
Jingzhou is a very ancient city. Situated in the middle area of the Yangtze River, it has been a strategic location of military importance since the ancient times. During the Zhou Dynasty (c.1046 – 256 B.C.) this area was known as the State of Chu. Numerous sites have been preserved from the Chu State period. We stopped for lunch and then went to the Jingzhou Museum. This was a lovely setting with some interesting buildings.
One of their main attractions is a 2,000-year-old mummy. In 1975 while excavating an elite cemetery dating from the Chu state in the Eastern Zhou period (770-221 B.C.), Archeologists discovered a well-preserved corpse and 563 fabulous artifacts. These items have yielded vast information about medicine, economy, science, history and culture of the ancient world. There were slips of bamboo containing information about the mummy buried with him. He was buried in 167 B.C.. As he was excavated, his skin was wet and tender. The soft tissue still had elesticity. The fingerprints of the fingers and toes were clear. All joints were still flexible and he still had 32 well- preserved teeth in this mouth. The internal organs appeared normal except they had diminished slightly. His brain tissue, cartilage, skeletal muscle and connecting tissues had all been well-preserved. It was discovered that he died from a gastric ulcer resulting in peritonitis and a massive hemorrhage. He also suffered from schistosomiasis, atherosclerosis, and a diaphragm hernia.
Some of the conditions given for the remarkable preservation was the condition of the burial. The coffin was buried 10 meters underground where the humidity and temperature are constant. The burial pit was filled with thick mud in a light blue color. The coffin was enclosed with mud in a white color. Also the coffin was sealed with hemp glued with lacquer which increased the air-tight seal. The liquid in the coffin was made up of water, herb medicine and other substances which could have acted as anti-bacteria and bacteriostasis. However the kali liquid in the coffin completely dissolved the hair.
It was an amazing experience.
Jingzhou City Walls
Like Xi'an, Jingzhou also has some remaining city walls. They are not as extensive or complete as those in Xi'an, but still impressive. The walls in Jingzhou have been rebuilt many times over the centuries with the last renovation being done at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. The length of the wall is 10 kilometers. It is about 8.8 meters in height.
We actually got to visit one small section of the Jingzhou City Walls. We went to the East Gate, or Yinbin Gate. On top is a gate tower called the Binyang Tower. Built during the Ming Dynasty, the Yinbin Gate was used for welcoming representatives of the Imperial Court and other important visitors, so the Binyang Tower is the grandest and largest.
Some of the surrounding neighborhood.
From the top of the city wall it was possible to see the Nine Dragon Bridge, or Jiu Long Qiáo. This bridge has 9 arches and each arch is decorated with a carved stone dragon.
Boarding the Ship
The day before we arrived in Wuhan, Zhang Lu came to me and told me that he thought it was going to be difficult getting Reuben and the wheelchair on board the ship. There were a great many steps with no railings and it was going to be raining. He suggested that we hire some men to carry him. The cost was ¥100 which was only about $15. How could I refuse? In China they are very aware of "saving face" and so Zhang Lu was very careful to get the rest of the group on the ship before us so that Reuben wouldn't be embarrassed. However, the few of us who did know, thought it was great and were somewhat jealous. And the four guys did a good job going over all the steps and getting on the boat.
And we begin our sail just before sunset.
We are sailing on the Sinorama Diamond ship on the Yangtze River, called Cháng Jiāng (meaning "Long River"). The ship has 6 floors and is quite nice. It's not a huge ship like the big cruise ships that are so popular these days, but it's certainly big enough - actually small enough to be comfortable.
Lobby - view from above
Main Dining Room
Main Dining Room
We were in Room 312. We got settled in and somewhat unpacked, although it was easier to just live out of the suitcases. The ship is small enough to get around easily. We decided to leave the wheelchair in the stateroom for our time onboard, and give Reuben a chance to finally start walking again. Let's face it, I don't want him to become dependent on this wheelchair. So we had a walk around the ship to get our bearings. Of course my favorite spot was up on the top deck where I could see the river and surrounding cities - and of course watch for bridges.
I must pause to talk briefly about the weather. Beijing and Xi'an were comfortably warm, and we had no rain. But Jingzhou is very hot, it's raining, and the humidity is off the charts. If you open the balcony doors in your stateroom, if only long enough to step outside and then again to return, everything in the room will be damp. And everything stayed damp for most of the cruise. This was to be only the beginning of the heat and humidity.
As we began our cruise you could see a lovely pagoda from the ship. I found out that it is the Wanshou Pagoda - Longevity Pagoda. King Zhu Xianjie, a local king, had the pagoda built between 1548 and 1552 to pray for longevity for Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty.
Wanshou Pagoda - Longevity Pagoda
There is a lovely bridge just here in Jingzhou. It's called the Jingzhou Yangtze River Bridge and is actually a bridge complex. It has two main cable-stayed spans with more than 1,300 meters of box girder spans in between. The bridge is very long - 4,177 meters - so it's terribly difficult to photograph. Especially with the rain. It got easier as we got closer, but of course the bridge no longer fit within the camera lens.
As the sun started to set, it was time for our first dinner on the ship. The dining room was large and there was a huge selection on the buffet. The food was excellent.
We decided to have an early night and get a little rest for a change. Of course I kept waking up every couple of hours to go out on the balcony and see what I was missing!!!
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