After five years away, the boat “trackers” that once pulled barges up the rapids of the Three Gorges will make a come back next month, so that tourists can once again pay to be hauled along a Yangtze River tributary by mostly naked men.
For the last five years, the water level of the once wild Shennong Stream has been too deep for trackers to practice their trade, thanks to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. China News reports that the head of tourism for Badong County, Hubei Province happily announced yesterday that this is no longer the case and starting on May 1st, traditional tracker eye candy will once again complement the natural beauty of the Three Gorges.
Once trackers towed large junks loaded with heavy cargo through the Yangtze’s treacherous rapids from the shoreline using only ropes and their brute strength. Now, they mostly serve small groups of tourists in pea boats. Trackers are mostly poor local farmers looking to supplement their incomes. Traditionally, they hauled in the nude to keep their clothes from getting wet.
Apparently, local officials didn’t want the experience to be quite so traditional and are making trackers wear an article of clothing. Why they chose shirts instead of pants as that article of clothing? We don’t know either.
by Alex Linder
[Images via ChinaNews]