Yet another trip away, this time to spend four nights on a boat sailing along the Yangtze River in central China. We flew from Shanghai to Yichang and arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport and take us to the boat. All was going as we expected until we were in the car and the woman said, “hello, my name is Lily and I’ll be your tour guide today.” All we had asked for was a driver, so it was lovely to find that we had our own private tour guide to help us kill time by taking us around Yichang before we got on the boat. Since we had agreed on a price to go from the airport to the boat, any extra detours would cost a bit more. Lily thought that the gardens and temples might not be very baby/stroller friendly, but there was the Chinese Sturgeon Garden that we might like to visit. I figured that this was the only way we’d ever see sturgeon, so off we went. Lily told us that it would be a ridiculous amount extra to pay, to which we agreed. When we got there we saw stuffed sturgeon, sturgeon organs preserved in jars of formaldehyde, as well as a stuffed Yangtze River Alligator and a Yangtze River Dolphin preserved in a tank of formaldehyde. Nice.
Our next stop was a movie theatre of sorts, where we watched a video made way back when, about the role of the garden in breeding sturgeon and releasing them into the river. I think that’s what it was about: the video was so old, shown on an old tv, and the sound was so bad that we had to guess what they were saying (when we weren’t laughing at the 1980s fashions).
We were then taken to a big dirty tank that had about ten sturgeon swimming around it. The fish were impressive, their living conditions far less so. There were also fish from other parts of the world, swimming around equally dull tanks. There was a tropical fish exhibit, again with fish swimming around dirty, empty tanks. Well, the ones that were living were swimming around – there were quite a few fish lying belly up. Outside we saw where an alligator was supposed to be living – but it had been taken inside for the winter.
Ok, so enough of bagging the place out. They were doing a good job (if we are to believe all we were told) of breeding and releasing sturgeon into the river, and this is essential given that the Three Gorges Dam has destroyed the sturgeons ability to swim upstream to spawn (no fish ladders here, I’m afraid). They also rehabilitated sick and injured sturgeon and released them back into the river. So all in all, I’m kind of glad we went, despite getting totally ripped off in how much we paid to see the place.
However, my advice, if you’re stuck in Yichang with a few hours to kill, go see the gardens and temples.
In part 2, the cruise…