The key stop on the Yangtze River cruises is at Mt. Minshan to marvel at the legendary Fengdu Ghost City. The name instantly evokes scary images and indeed the legend has it that the temples and statues atop the mountain have been meant to inspire just that, a glimpse into passage the dead must navigate en route to netherworld. Sculptures of ferocious demons, evil creatures and eerie realm of ghosts line the way to the testing bride of Nothing-To-Be-Done before facing the judgment at the Ghost-Torturing-Pass. May be few hundred years ago the folk trembled at awe visiting this surreal slice of ancient Chinese depiction of Hell and set most to be good so as not to have to suffer the wrath of Yama, the King of Hell. In the old days the frightened folk no doubt crawled to the top of the mountain but today one can ascend hopping on a chairlift. While the artistic merit of this iconography certainly borders kitsch, and most visitors find the bizarre sculptures and monuments entertaining, the most amusing are in fact the commemorative plaques for the Palace of Heaven and the Homeward-looking Tower! Carved in steel, these two tablets are indeed priceless. How in this day and age, with so many Chinese having mastered the English language, could the Fengdu management let these two pearls slip, or was it done intentionally in order to lift our spirits when surrounded with so many terrifying images? Whatever the answer, the shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City makes for an enjoyable break from your Yangtze river cruise.
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