Friday, October 15, 2010

Changbaishan Weekend

For Columbus Day weekend, Beth, Dannielle, and I took an overnight train to Changbaishan, the mountain on the border between China and North Korea in Jilin Province. It's actually a dormant volcano with a crater lake on top.

View of the train station as the train leaves Shenyang:

The Chinglish signage in Changbaishan was spectacular. This sign isn't even Chinglish, but the hilarity remains. Seriously, what message is being conveyed? The paper being passed under the table reads "secret documents." Perhaps there's a hidden moral.

The icy ride up the mountain over switchbacks was death-defying, but the view was worth it.

That's North Korea on the other side:

Beth, photobombing:


We ran into this family in Shenyang, then we all recognized each other in Changbaishan! They were also the cutest ayi and shushu from Dalian.

According to North Korean state media, Kim Jung-il was born here, and I can see why. If I had a government-run media apparatus at my fingertips, I might just perpetuate that myth as well.

After we left the crater lake, we visited the sulphur hot springs and waterfall -

On Sunday morning, we visited the underground forest, which is actually just a rock formation in a valley. Luckily, there was no signage to prevent us from climbing!

I'm going to miss Chinglish when I leave.

Beth and Dannielle walked out on the rickety overlook above the underground forest, while I took pictures from solid ground.

This is my FAVORITE picture of the trip:
The Chinese version reads "...or you will be responsible for the consequences."

What is happening here? Why are small frogs being strung out to dry? Do I even want to know? No. let's just move on to the next picture.

Outside the park gates, Changbaishan is seriously desolate and depressing. The only nice building in the whole town was our hotel, the Landscape Lanjing Hotel, which was amazing. I highly recommend it! (this is not a picture of the hotel...)

We got a little giddy in our search for Snickers bars and coke.

City donkey sighting!

Close to the train station, there were lots of these huge wood and wire structures for the logging companies. I think they're some kind of rigging system to get the logs onto the train cars, but I'm not sure.

Our train back to Shenyang was seriously pre-Mao era. I don't think these pictures capture just how depressingly time-warping the train was. This car is the hard sleepers, in which people sleep in triple-layer bunks.

This was the cheapest car, the hard sleeper. People slept here for the duration of the 13-hour train ride. We had a soft sleeper car, which meant that we could close the door to our own small compartment and watch Glee until my laptop died. :)

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