History, regional dining and rolling views lie in wait when you put to the waters of China?s most famous river for a cruise Day 1 Wuhan We spent the day walking along the new Riverfront Promenade, taking in the old architecture along Yanjiang Dadao, and wandering down the new -pedestrian mall on Jianghan Lu. Now it's time to board the Isabella for our trip down river to visit other cities along the Yangtze. The pier is opposite the impressive old Wuhan Customs House, and as we carry our bags down to the pier we're welcomed by a brass band and boat staff in silk qipaos handing out hot towels. In the evening there's a welcoming party, followed by a buffet dinner. We stand on the deck as our boat travels under the Changjiang Bridge ? a double-decker -structure for both trains and cars ? leaving the bright city lights of Wuhan in the distance. Day 2 Jiujiang and Lushan When I wake up our boat has already docked at Jiujiang, or ?Nine Rivers,? a small city in Jiangxi province. After breakfast we board the bus for Lushan, less than an hour away, a town built by westerners at the end of the 19th century as a summer resort. In ancient times, this mountain was a favorite of Chinese poets, including Li Bai and Bai Juyi. The winding ride up the mountain, a bit dizzying, takes us past farms and tea plantations. This mountain resort town, which is quite cool, has shops, lakefront hotels and restaurants. There are also pleasant paths through the mountains that take you across Heaven's Bridge, past Brocade Valley and an old Taoist temple with a resident fortune-telling priest. Near Fairies Cave, Chinese mimic the late Chairman Mao Zedong, posing for a photo in a wicker chair, legs crossed, a cigarette dangling from between his fingers. We head back to the town and visit Meilu Villa, an old house named after Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek?s wife, Song Meiling, and where the couple often relaxed. General George Marshall visited Lushan eight times in 1946 in an attempt to mediate an end to the civil war between the Nationalists and Communists. It was also the site of the famous Lushan Conference. Black and white historical photos hang from the walls. After lunch we drive an hour to a hot spring resort in the town of Xianning, where it's our turn to relax in the soothing mineral waters. As we return to the port area we pass by several European buildings, remnants of the time when seven foreign countries had consulates here. Also within driving distance of Jiujiang is Jingdezhen, China's famed ceramics capital, which began making pottery in the Han Dynasty. Nearby Poyang Lake is the country's largest freshwater lake. Day 3 Chizhou and Jiuhuashan, Anhui province It?s a short bus ride to Jiuhuashan, one of China?s four sacred Buddhist Mountains. Along the way we pass by green fields, arched bridges and the white architecture that is unique to this area of China. It starts to pour as we reached the mountaintop. We're drenched, but the rain and the fog adds to the mystical experience as we watch Chinese extend long, thick sticks of incense into a wild flame, the air dense with the strong scent of incense. Some 4,000 monks and nuns live in the many temples that dot the mountain. From Chizhou it is just 3-1/2 hours to Huangshan, or Yellow Mountain, the most famous mountain in China. Day 4 Yangzhou After breakfast, we disembark in Yangzhou and are greeted by a dozen red-clad grannies beating traditional Chinese drums. Yangzhou is one of China's oldest cities, dating back 2,400 years, and it's a pleasant place to visit. Located on the Grand Canal, Yangzhou was the center for salt transportation in the Qing Dynasty. We spend an afternoon riding in a boat around Slender West Lake ? a tranquil man-made body of water with beautifully landscaped areas ? that dates back to the Tang Dynasty. In the afternoon we visit He Garden, a fine example of Qing dynasty architecture and landscaping. The residential garden complex was built by He Zhidao, a former governor of Hubei province, in 1883. The city is famous for its Huaiyang cuisine, one of China's great cuisines, which includes the world famous Yangzhou Fried Rice. We spend the night back on the ship before returning home the next morning. Changjiang Cruise Overseas Travel Co., based in Wuhan, has frequent boats sailing from Chongqing in Sichuan province all the way to Shanghai, where the Yangtze River flows into the East China Sea. The air-conditioned ships are clean and comfortable, with private rooms, toilets and showers, and large windows for viewing the river scenery. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are buffet-style. The food is plenty and excellent, featuring cuisines from all the provinces along the river. For more information, call (86-27) 85668414. Or visit their web site at: www.ccotc.com .