We anchor in Badong and see for the first time one of the relocated cities; also impressive is bridge – 357 ft. high and 3 miles long. Nothing from the old city is recognizable; everything in the city was completely removed to avoid shallows for navigation. Here is the entrance to the Shennong River.
The river, which is around 37 miles long, can now be traveled by ship for around 12 miles through the Longxia-Gorge (Parrot Gorge). The valley slopes are mostly still covered by original vegetation and are a home to monkeys and mountain gazelles.
Next to the Dragon Temple- which also had to be elevated due to the Three Gorges Dam – we pass a huge cave – Cave of Swallows – which extends 4 miles into the mountain.The Shennong River is known not only for its narrow valley, but also for the 2000 year old hanging coffins of the deceased of the Tujia nationality counting 8.3 million. The coffins are preserved in inaccessible places in the rock walls.
At the end of the navigable section of the Shennong River (神农溪), the Tujia (土家族) are already waiting for tourists in their pea-pod boats and draw them in a traditional way on long ropes several hundred meters upstream.
Up to 1978, the Tujia men performed this task unclothed. In this region lacking a strong infrastructure, tourist boating is surely a welcome additional income. For tourists it means a welcome change after several days on the Yangtze.
Once again we pass the Longxia Gorge (龙庆) with the hanging coffins of the Tujia and reach Badong.
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