Fengdu: 15th May 2014
Today’s excursion was to the ‘Ghost City of Fengdu’. To get to the city, we’d have 400-odd steps to negotiate, for the city stands at the top of a sheer cliff … and, before that, 100 steps to get from the quayside to the coach.
We weren’t that keen on climbing so many steps … and the final decider was that it was raining … an insidious, penetrating drizzle, punctuated by heavier showers. So, we decided we’d stay on the boat for this one. But, we did watch a constant stream of umbrellas going ashore to brave the elements, determined to get their money’s worth.
It had been raining all the way up here, through the Qutang and Wu Gorges, but the low cloud and mist didn’t detract from the scenery at all … indeed, it added an air of mystery and other-worldedness to it.
Fengdu is as far as the Yangtze 2 is going this trip. It was planned to terminate at Chongqing, but the river levels dictated it couldn’t go any further. So, the following morning, we disembarked; the luggage carried up those steps … four, or even six cases at a time … by ‘trackers’, using a yoke.
In bygone days, boats had been man-hauled up the tributary streams by these ‘trackers but, since it’s now possible to sail up most of the gorges, there’s no longer any call for them.
We’d seen pictures of the trackers at work, in the theatre at Shenong … you can’t help but notice the bare buttocks. A video on the ship explained them. The traditional garb of the trackers was silk shorts, but, since they chafed so much, most of them preferred to work naked.
Nowadays, they’re simply employed as luggage porters … and they keep their clothes on!