Peapod Boats on Shennong Stream
We did two side trips on our cruise. The first was to a tacky “ghost town” (a few shots later) on the first day. The second afternoon, we spent several hours on first a smaller motorized boat cruising up an ever-narrowing side stream, then on “peapod boats” (so named because of their shape) being first rowed, then pulled, up an ever-shallower stream surrounded by beautiful moody hills.
Steve and I shared a boat with a really GREAT group of Australian tourists and our boat was by far the most interesting one — we sang “Drunken Sailor” and “Waltzing Matilda” to entertain our captain, tour guide, and paddlers as we were rowed upstream, and generally had quite a good time. Steve had time, afterwards, to speak with the oldest member of the group and to learn that for him, this day was literally the realization of a lifelong dream. He is a WWII veteran, and after the loss of his wife a few years ago he decided he’d finally travel the world and see things he’s always dreamed of seeing. This was his first trip, and being pulled upstream by the trackers (you can see them in one of these shots) is something he’s dreamed about since he read a book about boat traffic, and foot trackers, on the Yangtze and its tributaries as a child in Australia, during the teens or twenties.
Indeed, Steve and I found the Shennong Stream trip — aside from our pleasure in the company; those back home should ask Steve about his talent show performance of Waltzing Matilda with the group that evening — both beautiful and very interesting. The peapod boats were until recently used exclusively for work and transport of goods; these days they’re just about exclusively used for tourists coming off the big cruise ships. It seems clear that Three Gorges tourism is an important part of the economic picture of many of these towns.