July 5 and 6
From Chongqing to Fengdu
I had a hard time understanding people’s Chinese in Xi’an, but in Chongqing and Fengdu I’m lucky if I understand anything at all. The variation of local Chinese dialects is astounding.
I’m spending the next couple of days floating down the Yangtze River on a riverboat/cruise ship. This is my first official guided tour since I arrived in China. We will be passing through the Three Gorges and ending the trip at the infamous Three Gorges Dam. I have heard that the view of the gorges is not as spectacular since the completion of the dam because the rising water level makes the mountains seem lower, but that it is still a worthwhile trip.
Today we visited a place called City of Ghosts where the locals have built up somewhat of a Buddhist temple theme park (the closest thing to Disney on the Yangzi River) around one ancient temple and a small stone bridge they call “the bridge to Hell,” which visitors must cross without slipping to avoid an eternity in Hell. There is also a Hell’s Gate within the compound and numerous “ghost” statues. Not far from Ghost City’s hell temple the people are in the process of constructing a “Heaven” section of their attraction; from what we could see of it, Heaven’s main temple is in the shape of a gigantic Buddha head. We didn’t get to go to Heaven because it’s still under construction, but Hell was readily accessible.
By the way, in the Chinese tradition Hell is actually a cold place and blue is the color they use to represent it (all of this is according to the tour guide, so it may or may not be accurate). Today’s weather, however, was far from cold, making it a hot day in Hell in Fengdu, China.