Monday 1 September 2008

The Spectacular Scenery of the Yangtze River

Photo by Andrew Hitchcock

My head's been in China again today as I am once again writing about travelling in that country which I have never experienced. This time it's about cruising on the Yangtze River, and I hit a problem. When I was well into my research and the first part of my article, I discovered that some of the info on the travel guide and cruise company websites is pretty old and discusses things that were visible before the Three Gorges Dam project got as far as it is today.

This controversial project is an enormous dam that has been built across the river. Even though it is not due for completion until next year, the water level of the river behind it has risen significantly. Eventually the level is expected to be around 600 feet higher than before, and many of the historical sites I'd recommended holiday makers to look out for are, or will be, under the water line.

Of course there are good reasons for building the dam - it will generate enormous hydroelectric power; it will conserve water for irrigation where needed; it will provide more protection from regular flooding; and it makes river navigation safer and easier. On the other hand it has already displaced millions of people from their homes in towns and villages that have been sacrificed. It has cost billions in public money. And there are concerns about water pollution. Only time will tell whether the benefits are worth it for the general population of the country.

Away from the dam, the river scenery remains spectacular. I found the photo of dusk on the Yangtze at Wikimedia.

1 comment:

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

By complete coincidence I posted a card from China today and it too shows some spectacular scenery. While I was trying to find out about it, I realised that I know pitifully little about China.

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