January 27, 2009

Yichang, China / Three Gorges Dam Project

My friend Ville and I had hatched a plan in Huangshan to meet up in Wushan, take the bus to Yichang then cruise up the Yangtze River to Chongqing. Now say that three times really fast.
Along with Ville and I, was also Marcel, a nice Swiss boy whom I had shared the same bus with and who conveniently happened to speak Mandarin, which was really helpful when our pack of intricately-detailed, pre-arranged boat, bus and tour tickets were being explained in a very friendly but rather indecipherable Chinglish; if not for Marcel, Me and Ville would have probably ended up on a bus to Burma and a boat to India (wait a minute, that sounds like fun).
Our Three Gorges tour started early in the morning, and without the opportunity to eat breakfast beforehand, we arrived with an appetite as big as the dam. A scenic bus ride following along the bank of the Yangtze, watching, in between tunnels, as the steep mountains rolled by, listening to the tour guide talk incessantly into a high pitched microphone, had me in a kind of pre-afternoon, hunger-induced, ear-deafening fog which matched the fog outside, creating mysterious, grey soaked views of the largest and most controversial dam ever built.
I was snapped to attention by a concrete-inspired adrenaline rush as I stood overlooking a structure and project of such colossal size that it immediately produced a feeling of awe, which was quickly eclipsed by guilt as I thought of all the humanitarian, environmental and cultural damage that has been created in it’s wake.
I was standing on the battleground of human against nature, cost against benefit, and as I spotted two fishermen set against the main dam wall, resembling minute dots in a Seurat painting (Sunday Afternoon at the base of The Three Gorges Dam), insignificant in size and yet vital to the bigger whole, it was unclear who was winning the fight; those small men seemed to represent human against itself, with nature getting dragged along for the bumpy ride.
Plugging the Yangtze? Who on earth thought of that? (actually, Sun Yat-sen did) But even with the haze obscuring the dam's true size, it still looked as though it might have been easier to engineer a bridge from Shanghai to Los Angeles than build this thing. I just hope that if the dam decides to spring a leak one day, that, at least, there will be some Three Gorges Glue on hand …oh, and hopefully I will be standing upstream.


Metsämarja said...

Brilliant writing! I can feel the moodchange myself when you realise what the dam actually is representing...

Metsämarja said...

ps. Hey! I'm Maria, Villes big sister. And my picture is from a summer masquerade; I'm Bubbles from the Power Puff Girls :D


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