China 1997

This is the story of a package tour to China in 1997. It started in Shanghai then a Yangtze cruise followed by flights to Xian (Terra Cotta warriors) and Beijing.

We purposely organized this trip before the Three Gorges dam destroyed the Yangtze as it had been known to tourists for many years. The Three Gorges dam was under construction but not yet finished. So the Three Gorges and the Lesser Three Gorges on the Daning were still there in all their glory. And ancient cities such as Fengdu were not yet moved to higher ground.

The Yangtze through the Three Gorges was easier even in 1997 than it had been for centuries before. Blasting and dredging made the channel safe, but you can still see the trails the trackers used to pull boats through the gorges in the old days.

The first section is the Yangtze. I read that the Yangtze doesn’t even exist. The name is a mispronunciation of Changjiang, the waterway’s true name, which means Long River. Uncoiled, the Yangtze stretches nearly 4,000 miles eastward from its source on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau to its mouth on the East China Sea, just north of the port of Shanghai. Only the Nile and the Amazon surpass it in length. Our own Missouri-Mississippi is the fourth longest river.

I broke the story into three parts. Photographs of the Yangtze and its boats and the sights on the shiore, the trip to the Lesser Three Gorges on the Daning River, and Fengdu, city of ghosts.

The source was negatives which Gil is scanning in 2016. There must be degradation because they are not the quality one would expect. However, Judy did her best to retrieve usable photos for the show.

But then there is the equipment... Most of it was taken with a Canon EOS, film of course. Ah, the days of film -- I'm so glad they are gone! Thens of rolls of fillm and you know nothing until you return. The big problem on the river was the distance from the shore. So I purchased a teleconverter. Apparently it was too cheap and had rather low quality. Second, I was not familiar with the proper exposure for so much sky and water, so the photos from the river seem to be underexposed. Good thing the sun was not out, I suppose. So I did my best to bring life into these photographs.