|Hubei Yichang | Yangtze River Cruise - Gezhou Dam Shiplock|
Historically, Yichang was known as Yiling, the famous battle site during the Three Kingdoms era. Today, the city of Yichang with population more than 4 millions is a transit point and a popular distribution center. It is also the home of Tujia minority ethnic.
Since the completion of Gezhou Dam in 1988, Yichang has developed exponentially. Gezhou Dam was built as part of water control project and simultaneously running two hydroelectric plants that generates the electricity supply for the neighboring provinces and as far as to Shanghai.
We arrived at Yichang on the following morning after we boarded Xian Na at Shashi Jetty, near Jingzhou. Skyscrappers, huge concrete/metal bridge and plenty of ships docking by the river banks - these were the images of Yichang when we passed by.
Ten minutes after Yichang, we came across Gezhou Dam Shiplock. In order to cruise upstream of Yangtze or Chang Jiang, all the vessels have to be elevated to next water level.
I guess 'lucky' was our middle name. As we arrived, the gate on the left was wide open to take us into the chamber with a front door close tightly. Otherwise, our ship might have to queue. Each chamber can accommodate only 4-5 vessels below 3000 tonnes at one time. The process of passing the dam is an exciting experience. It will take about 50 minutes to go through it.
After all the allocated vessels had docked inside the chamber, the gate behind would be closed and locked. Then river water was injected gradually to rise up the vessels.
Observing the chamber's wall of the picture below, the wet water mark is gone and all of the vessels are elevated.
When the water level is aligned with the higher side of the dam, the front door opens and allows the vessels to continue the journey upstream. Amazing, isn't it? It is like a ship taking a lift!
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