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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Chang Bai Shan (If only I had pictures ...)

In a third-floor internet cafe in Erdao/Baihe, the two sister citites at the northern foot of the Changbai Mountains. Cigarettes on an ash-ridden floor, horns honking faintly outside, a warm glow from a pleasant walk in a beautiful sculpture-filled autumnal-leaved park, a feeling of contentment and happienss. It's been a fantastic trip, made all the better with friends to share it all with.

Yesterday was a full day on the mountainside, up early for a busride at half past six, on the mountain near seven, arriving at the fog-shrowded summit soon afterward. Thick fog, heavy with moisture and cold, thin air, perched along the very edge of the mountain, looking down into the unknown abyss and searching, for any sign, of the TianChi ("Heaven Lake") and rock below. Suddenly the wind changed, and if you looked hard enough, you saw a slight glimmer of pearl-blue water, a shoreline so thin and pure you could see the rocky ground delve into the water and then sharply plummet, dropping like the rim of a giant bowl, into the volcanic crater below.

The wind continued to change. Slowly the fog peeled back, and as more and more of the lake was revealed, the crowd on the mountainside thundered, cheering nature on. Like a rockstar coming on stage, the entire process of the lifting of the fog was a moment, a show worth experienceing, and more rewarding than simply coming upon the lake and seeing it in its simply, enourmous beauty. We all watched and yelled together as the final whisps of fog burned off, and as the last finger of cloud lifted away, mad cheering erupted as the lake was revealed in all its glory, the water a kind of blue you think of in cartoons, the blue all water should be, with sun-warmed rock and gray-white mountains in the distance, a colossus of beauty and nature standing silently before us.

Truly beautiful. What traveling should be. The mountain view on the lake was worth the trip alone. If only I could upload pictures ...

Tomorrow will be a traveling day, back to Yanji, then back to Jilin. In Yanji I took a bus to Tumen, and stood mere yards away from North Korea. At night, Tumen had lights and karoke and life along the river, while the entirety of North Korea was black. A border, and arbitrary line that in this part of the world just happens to be drawn down this thin muddy river, creating a duality that it's hard to even imagine.

When I'm back in Jilin, I'll tell (and show) more.

1 comment:

Grandma Teh said...

Your comments on your trip were exciting and so beautifully written that it took my breath away.