The first eight pages of this document were written in 1995. We were much younger, there were still baiji swimming in the Yangtze River, and China was a different world. A lot has changed for all of us since then...
A bottle of “baiji beer” from Tongling. The label on the bottle shows happy dolphins frolicking under a bridge in the clean blue water of the Yangtze River (compare to a corresponding scene from real life, minus dolphins).
Bottle cap from Tongling's baiji beer showing a picture of the dolphin and its full name: baijitun (“white fin dolphin”).
Later, we attempted to locate the monument to the baiji by asking the hotel staff to show us its whereabouts on a map of Tongling. Since we were uncertain how to say “monument” or even “statue” in Chinese, we settled for drawing a rather crude picture of what we imagined a monument to the baiji might look like (it actually ended up looking like a dolphin standing on its tail on top of a birthday cake). This was a source of considerable amusement for them and frustration for us when we were given four or five different answers by as many people.
As an unexpected bonus, while wandering through downtown Tongling, we even discovered a bus stop shaped like a baiji! We suspect that the existence of this unique tribute to the baiji had more to do with the local beer than with the river dolphin.
Donald and Wei Hsing Wen, the official English interpreter of the Foreign Affairs Office of the city of Tongling. The baiji monument at Tian Jing Hu Guesthouse is in the background.
Leaving Tongling in style, in a 3rd class cabin on one of the Yangtze River ferries. Stefanie is sitting on a top bunk in the background. Our presence was a source of non-stop amusement for the other occupants of the cabin.