Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hydro Energy and the Three Gorges

Wanchou, departure city for hydrofoil
Three Gorges
Cliffs along Three Gorges
On the plane to China, there were few Americans, but the few that I saw were going to see the main sites (Great Wall, Forbidden City) and to take a cruise of the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges. Normally, the cruise ships take 3 days, allowing time to visit the towns on the way. Taking advantage of an unscheduled day in my schedule, I opted for the 11-hour journey by bus and hydrofoil from Chongzing to Yichang, returning to Beijing in time for my flight home. The hydrofoil is a popular form of mass transit for the local Chinese, with few tourists, traveling along the same stretch of the river that is being gradually abandoned in anticipating of the rising waters.
Typical landscape along Yangtze River
End of hydrofoil journey -- near dam.

Three Gorges Dam at dusk.
The three gorges is a particularly beautiful section of the Yangtze river, although it seemed to take only a few minutes to go through the most dramatic sections. At the end of the trip, we pulled up next to several other freight boats and had to cross them to get to shore for the final leg of our journey to Yichang (60 km away).  Fortunately for me, there was a guide who was willing to take me around to see the dam before going back to Yichang.  We saw the transmission lines, the monument, and, of course, the dam itself.  The dam is over 2 km long, the largest in the world.  Still not at capacity (or even close), it is still possible to see the large machinery that eventually will be used to let water out.
Monument on mountain near dam.

My guide, a 25 year old, was conversant in English, and was clearly very proud of the dam.  His own family had been moved, and he admitted (but not at first) that many were unhappy to move. But his genuine pride for the dam and related projects was evident. Apparently, over 2000 (mostly Chinese) people visit the dam daily.

Unfortunately, it was already dusk by the time I arrived, so many photos didn’t turn out so well. 

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