Nude boat trackers on Shennong Stream (神农溪) of Badong County are living fossils of the time-honored boat tracking culture in the Three Gorges. Once is renowned in 1990s, the activity fades out ever since the Reservoir Area of the Three Gorges (三峡库区) functioned. Voices of restoring the primitive ecological activity are making their present these years.
March 26th, boat trackers on the stream resumed their old practice as requested by tourists.
Tourists on the other end of the ropes.
Early this month, Yao Benchi(姚本驰) vice secretary-general of the CPPCC of Enshi County, Hubei Province, brought up a controversial proposal during the local Two Sessions: restoration of the nude boat tracking culture as a characteristic of Badong County. While people are questioning whether the proposal is an excuse for tourism drive in the disguise of culture preservation, head of the boat tracking team of Shennong Stream said: “As long as tourists need it, and are willing to pay for it, we boat trackers are still willing to go nude.”
Nude boat tracking used to be a unique cultural scene on Shennong Stream of Badong County. Trackers don’t wear clothes because they walk within the river all day long, their clothes will be torn down by the rope and the wet fibre will stick and rip open their skin easily; plus there are few people along the riverside, so trackers decide not to wear anything for the convenience of work. However the business fade off gradually since 2003 when the Reservoir Area of the Three Gorges started storing water up.
Today boat tracking in nudity seems unnecessary when there are actually not that much of water in the river to dip up trackers’ bodies. Yet some people think to attract more tourists, the ecological tourist site must have unique offers: scenery and the primitive robust beauty presented by working nude boat trackers.