The day began unlike any other with champagne and muffins in order to ring in the occasion. In Norway May seventeenth is a day celebrated enthusiastically as it marks the birth of what we now know as the modern nation of Norway. On this day Norwegians signed a constitution forming their own nation and ending the rule of Denmark over them. This lasted for two months but eventually they gained independence. There are two Norwegian women on our group and they warned us of this occasion as they were looking forward to celebrating it.
As everyone gathered in the lobby of the hotel Norway’s national anthem blared from the little speaker. The receptionist sitting behind the desk kept giving us a look and the Chinese tourists who came in and out of the lobby looked at us and the scene in bewilderment. I must admit it was a little strange but a lot of fun. It was also seven thirty in the morning and we had a boat to catch.
The boat wasn’t that far from our hotel the short walk was over quite quickly and we entered the lobby of the marina and made our way to the boat that was going to ferry us to the dam. Upon entering the boat I was struck by its grandeur. The lighting and design of the lobby was impressive. We climbed the stairs to the second floor and found some tables to sit at. These tables are rented and we got two of them to accomodate our large group. We began drinking in earnest as the boat set off upstream towards the dam.
We played card games and chatted as the scenery passed us by. The weather outside was t the greatest with a dense mist hanging over the surroundings. There were many people on the boat as well and as we periodically went upstairs on the deck we were asked to pose with the other passengers. It’s as if we were some kind of celebrities.
The drinking continued as the morning turned into the early afternoon. We eventually reached the dock and disembarked from the ship and made our way to shore. It was a chaotic scene as we pushed and were pushed out the doors. On shore we were directed onto a bus and then driven to have a very quick meal with all the other passengers and then the security checkpoint. The dam is an important piece infrastructure holding many billion gallons of water. It is about two point three kilometers winde and is operated by the military. The checks are appropriate I think. The dam is a popular tourist destination.
Once we both through the checks we got back into the bus and drove to the spot. Rain began to fall at this point. It wasn’t heavy rain so my lack of rain gear wasn’t too critical. The rain did dampen some spirits. Visibility was also affected. The full scale of the dam couldn’t be appreciated. This also speaks to the size of the project itself. It is the largest such dam in the world.
We walked around the site first climbing to the highest point and then walking to the lock where ships pass through five different levels before reaching the top. Transportation is vastly improved because of this project as barges are able to travel from Shanghai all the way to the middle of the country along the thousand kilometers of its length.
The sogginess was beginning to affect our spirits. It could also be that the lack of alcohol was now beginning to withdraw its bubbly spirit. The dam is a fascinating place but not very exciting to look at. The tour soon moved into the bus and we drove to the other side of the river to look at the dam from another perspective. The memorial park offered a good vantage point but the rain refracted the light making the dam invisible.
The bus ride back to the hotel was spent trying to sleep off the effects of the morning’s debauchery. The problem was that we had to switch busses and the seats are not very comfortable to sleep in. They are too narrow and when you lean your head back the neck is in an uncomfortable position. I did manage a few winks and when we got off the bus we made plans to meet up later in one of the hotel rooms before going to karaoke.
I needed to find a good bottle to have along with me luckily there was a Walmart nearby in the mall. The store as always is huge occupying the basement of the mall that is near the hotel. With coffee in hand I sought out the alcohol section and made my selection. I chose Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. Once I had all my provisions I made my way through the now pouring rain to the hotel. I passed out for a while.
We gathered in the room next door drinking and listening to music. We were excited to go and experience the Karaoke bar. It was a short walk from the hotel. We went upstairs to the second or third floor in an elevator and entered what seems like a different world. Each room had couches and a television with microphones that enhanced the voice. We bought some alcohol and proceeded to pick tunes to sing. Everyone took turns singing along to some favorites and popular songs. The singing continued late into the night.