While it would have been nice to see the Three Gorges before
the dam, nevertheless it's a really interesting time to
traverse Changjiang (Yangtze River). Right now is a
transition time for the cities and towns along the river
and we saw ghost towns and new towns right above them.
Whenever we docked, we'd drive up the hill through the partly
demolished abandoned city and sleep in the new replacement
city. Every city along the way has an "old city" and a "new city".
As far as the Three Gorges themselves, they still are quite
impressive, though not quite awe-inspiring as the poets and
painters of yore would tell you. The whole time
I'm looking at them I'm drawing mental pictures of what they
should look like if not for the dam. I would extend the bottom
of the gorges down another 20-30 meters and think: "Now, that
is magnificent!" The last gorge (Xilingxia) barely looks like a
gorge at all.
Another thing that struck me about the Yangtze is how dirty the
water appeared—it's in a mucky brown color. You look at the
countless cities and factories along the way and you see all the heavy traffic on the
water (tons of huge freighters and cruise boats) and you wonder what kind of
environmental disaster is waiting to happen now that all the pollution
is literally backed up with nowhere to go because of the dam. I know
the Chinese government promised to crack down on dirty factories along
the river and they said they will build enough processing
plants to clean the river sufficiently, but you just gotta wonder, especially
considering the track record of the Chinese government.