statues inside are scary. A tour guide told us that the Taoists think of hell as a
place inhabited by devils who have first claim on your soul. If they judge you
unworthy of their company they send you further down the line . That's an
interesting twist on what I was taught at Sunday school.
A shore excursion to Shenlong Village provides a glimpse of what life was
once like for the communities along the Yangtze. Until recently, boats were
dragged upstream, through the rapids, by gangs of men. Many of these
"boatmen" have since migrated to other parts but some remain and t hey have
found employment in the tourist industry. Their wives have souvenir stalls
and they give demonstrations of boat dragging . You get in one of their boats
and they take you down a narrow gorge to Shenlong . After that, they transfer
you to smaller boats and drag you up fast flowing streams.
The people of Shenlong belong to one of China's minority groups. Their
ancestors used to place their dead in caves high up in the cliffs of the
Shenlong gorge. Some of the coffins are visible from the boats. We were told
that in ancient times the coffins were lowered down on ropes from the top of
the cliffs and tended by people climbing down on ropes. Putting flowers on
grandma's grave required a lot of skill in those days.
The three gorges are still impressive but not as impressive as they once
were. The dam is one of the wonders of our modern age . One small tip: If
you buy a fossil fish from the stalls at Shenlong (or anywhere else), don't
expect it to be real. We had people on our boat comparing purchases and
getting upset when they found that their fish was identical to someone else's
fish. The fish were cast from moulds made from real fossils. They weren't
cheated. The price they paid was entirely reasonable for what they got.
Guys. Bear in mind that Chinese women are relatively reserved when it
comes to sex. I'm not suggesting that there is no such thing as free love
in China. I'm merely trying to dampen any unrealistic expectations you
If you are going to enjoy the delights of free love in China then it is most
likely to be with a travelling companion with whom you started the trip or one
you met on the way. I don't entirely discount the possibility of finding a
Chinese chick who shares your desires. However, she'll probably want a
cast-iron guarantee of marriage and relocation to the country of your birth.
You can, of course, resort to paid sex. It is certainly available and there's a
fare chance you will be propositioned: particularly if you venture into certain
areas. But be careful. All that glitters is not gold.