Impression of Shibaozhai on Yangtze River

With over thousands of years’ history, there is great deal to see and to do on Yangtze River beyond just the Three Gorges Dam. Among all the Yangtze highlights, Shibaozhai is a fascinating shore excursion site and should be high on everyone’s list of places to visit.

Guest’s impression on Yangtze Shibaozhai:

“We cruised overnight and awoke to the magic of the Yangtze. Our first stop for shore excursion was at the Stone Treasure Stockade of Shibaozhai.

Shibaozhai (the Precious Stone Fortress or the Stone Treasure Stockade) is a 12-story red wooden temple on the northern bank of the Yangtze. It was built on a 720-foot (220-meter) huge rock bluff overlooking the river. Shibaozhai is one historic site that will look much different in 2009. When the lake formed by the Three Gorges Dam is completed, most of this bluff will be under water and the temple will sit close to the lake’s edge on a newly formed island.

Shibaozhai on Yangtze River

The temple was built in the late 17th and early 18th century during the Qing Dynasty, and every floor of the wooden structure contains interesting artifacts. Each of the 12 floors of Shibaozhai is dedicated to a famous general of the Three Kingdoms period (220-265AD), a local scholar or a renowned Chinese poet. Climbing the 12 stories is not as difficult as it may sound because you will need time to look at the paintings and sculptures on each level. The view of the river and the farms and village below is terrific.

In addition to the murals, sculptures, and wonderful views, there were two unusual interesting features of the Shibaozhai fortress. The first is the Duck Well at the top of the hill. Supposedly you can take a duck and drop it down the well and it will reappear swimming in the Yangtze far at the bottom of the hill. The Rice Flowing Well is the second feature. Legend has it that enough rice would flow out of the small well hole each day to feed the monks that lived in the temple and their guests. The “Stone Treasure” name is linked to this legend. However, one day a greedy monk chiseled a bigger hole in the rock, thinking he would get more rice. Of course, the rice flow ceased forever. Aren’t parables such as this one interesting and universal?

One tip for future cruisers of the Yangtze is the good shopping at Shibaozhai. By far, the best gift and souvenir shopping we found in China was in the numerous “kiosks” that lined the path from the river’s edge to the Shibaozhai temple. We had to walk through the gauntlet of shops to climb up to the temple, and we were afraid the vendors might be more aggressive when we were walking back down the hill to the ship. However, they almost all stayed in their respective shops and let us browse with much less harassment than we had found in Beijing. The prices were terrific, and I only wish I had bought more. I broke the first rule of shopping–if you find something you like at a good price, buy it! I’ve wished a dozen times since we left Shibaozhai that I had bought all of my gifts for friends and family back home from these “capitalists” on the Yangtze.

We sailed from Shibaozhai at noon and spent the afternoon leisurely cruising the Yangtze River. The sights on the river’s edge were fascinating, and the river traffic was busy and diverse. The citizens of several cities along the Yangtze are being relocated due to the rising waters. When the dam and lake are completed, over two million Chinese people will have been moved. Many are just moving from one side of the river to the other, leaving modern ghost towns on the shores of the Yangtze. These cities are being destroyed to prevent the buildings from interfering with river traffic after the water rises.”

If you want to read more about Shibaozhai, please visit here Sailing from Chongqing to Shibaozhai on Century Star

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