Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Number 12

The boat company we sailed with had 12 ships. We had been warned that anything under 6 was bad, and indeed another Intrepid trip we had met at Emei Shan, had moaned about the quality of the boat. We were to pray for a high number ship. We got Ship Number 12.

Travelling down the Yangtse, we had reasonable rooms and good quality food. We were to pass through the famous Three Gorges, but for most of us this was a time to sleep in late and relax after the harsh pace of the previous week. Harry's laugh woke me up at 6, but I got out John Fowle's 'The Magus' and began reading that. He can write. The afternoon of that first day on the water, I took up the option of a trip to "Asia's biggest waterfall". No one else was tempted, in fact when they heard it would involve a hour's bus ride on a Chinese bus, they were a lot less than not tempted, so it was just Nigel and me. We were some of the only Westerners on the trip. We sat up the front, so we got the benefit of a non-stop loudspeaker commentary (all in Chinese obviously), a commentary sometimes interspersed with song.

When we got to the waterfall, after the usual scary driving, we obviously had some steps to contend with. Why the Chinese with all their genius could not have invented the elevator in the Middle Ages I will never know. Anyhow as I walked down the steps, I could hear the sound of water getting louder. Suddenly through the tree branches, there it was, Huangguoshu Waterfall, and it did make a grand entrance. Having said that once I got close to the fall itself, it looked a little more mundane. I suppose there hasn't been too much water of late, but it seemed domestic in some way. Nigel even voiced the suspicion that it would manmade (''I wouldn't put it past them"). We walked behind the fall, took our pictures and happy to have seen it, went back to the bus. I think we both felt the same way; not disappointed, but not over-awed either.

We stopped into a comb factory on the way back to let the tour guide earn her commission.


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