by Russell Ruffino
originally published at 07:53PM on Thursday, January 31, 2008

“Wait, so can we get on a boat or not?”

I don’t know why I was asking them, they didn’t speak any more Chinese than I did. The travel agent looked frustrated and pointed at some pictures while making earnest Chinese sounding noises. The horrible truth dawned on me.

“I think what she’s trying to say is that we can’t get on a boat and go to Shanghai because the Chinese Government has just built the biggest dam in the world in the way.”

They didn’t take it very well, unsurprisingly, the biggest dam in the world isn’t something you expect to suddenly crop up. According to the guide book it wasn’t supposed to be ready for another 2 years. Not wanting to go back to the cockroach infested hostel we’d just left, we bought tickets to wherever the boat was headed.

3 nights later, as we went through the massive lock system of the Three Gorges Dam with several other large ships and came out the other side, I wondered what that woman had actually been trying to tell us.

I did not share my curiosity with the others.