China # 12 Yantze River Part 2 Trackers(Boatmen)
After sailing through the three Gorges (that's another post) and upstream of the Wu Gorge, which is the longest gorge, we transferred to another steamer to get to a tributary of the Yangtze River near Badong County. Our guide for this part of the trip was delightful. The Tujia guide, had a beautiful voice and, together, with the boat captain she sang a tradition love song. Apparently this is how young couples communicated if they lived on different sides of the gorge. The trackers way of life is gradually being eroded as the the river rises and tourism is very important to their local economy. We were told they would do two of these trips each week. Some boatmen take a couple of days to row their boats back to their villages. The rise in the level of the river means lots of the villagers have had to move from their homes along the shore.
We were a little apprehensive when we saw the small sampan 'pea pod' boats that were going to used for exploring the Shennong Stream. The boats are rowed by 'trackers' and they are incredibly fit and strong. In places the boats were pulled by trackers in the same way that the enormous junk ships were once dragged up the Yangtze (now really a show for the tourists). The trackers used to pull the boats naked but this no longer happens. I didn't want to disappoint you so I found a picture!
It was well organised and we all had to wear life jackets. The seats collapsed to make it easier to get people on board.
In places the gorge was incredibly narrow.
As I've said the strength of the trackers was amazing and we even had races with other boats...ours won, managing to overtake a couple, our contribution was all vocal, urging them on and cheering.With all the cruise ships it can get very crowded in some places as you can see below. This is where the boat is pulled around for the return journey.Some of the views we saw.This is a new bridge recently completed and saving the locals a lot of time when they want to cross the river. It seems to be well used. Across the bridge we noticed a make-shift shelter among the trees and assumed that this was home to someone.
I've really enjoyed re-living this part of my trip through doing this post....I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures.