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Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Blog Because Tomorrow I Lose Power

For about the third or fourth time since I've arrived in Jilin, they're cutting the power to the entire building (and I think the entire campus), as well as the water. As fun as that may sound, it's getting a little old to have my power cut at random intervals, and tomorrow, it's going to be slightly harder to swallow: no power or water, starting at seven in the morning, and ending sometime Saturday. That is to say, over 24 hours later.

So, I've learned to take showers at night, to say the least.

Blog ... I remember the first time I heard that word. I hated it. Reviled it. "Blog" sounded like some kind of artifact from the future, an anachronism just waiting to happen, some stupid anagram from a bad sci-fi novel, something from the far-flung future so strange and new the world couldn't help but make up a stupid name for it. But I guess when zorbing is real and you can actually buy a canine abomination like a groodle, blog is tame by comparison.

Well, I guess I should tell you about Change Bai Shan and that?

It was a fantastic trip. The two extra days in Yanji, along with Kevin and James, were great. We toured all over Yanji, and took a fantastic trip to Tumen, where I came as close as I wanted to North Korea.

A serene mountain sunset in Yanji.

And here I am on the top of that very mountain ... God I loved that stick.

I wonder what they serve here? (Yanji is a very Korean part of China.) That character to the right/underneath the dog's head means "meat."

Some well-used kebab skewers. No relationship to the dog. Honest.

Looking into North Korea.

I paid a guy two kuai to look through his (relatively) high-powered telescope, and snapped this pic of some North Korean farmers. Dirt roads, no machines, all by hand, it seems ...

Right there at the very edge of the border. We can safely assume that it says something along the lines of "Don't cross."

James, Kevin, and I left the border area, rented a three-person tandem bike, and drove along the river, watching the dusk slowly creep over the lightlessness of North Korea.

A great trip, made all the better by three foreigners making their way through China using their shaky Chinese. (More pics here, by the way.) Finished in Tumen, Kevin, James, and I hopped a train back to Yanji, and shortly thereafter, made our way to Erdao/Baihe, the towns near the Change Bai Mountains. After getting situated in a hostel that was little more than a family's spare room (we played cards late into the night as their daughter slept on a cot in the kitchen), we woke up early for a full day on the mountainside.

Careful, James.

The lake was huge, an unreal blue, and breathtaking.

Ready, set ... pull a stupid face, Matt! OK, cheese! The mountain's famed waterfall. Sadly, the stairs for climbing to the top were closed due to rock slides. Maybe next time.

The famous hot springs ... eggs and veggies boiled in the water, available on demand.

I made new friends, Patty and Amy. I think we said "goodbye" twenty times.

At the "Xiao Tian Chi," or Small Heaven Lake (Heavenly Pond?), the white trees, stripped of their leaves, beamed in the water's mirrored surface. Very peaceful, that pond.

Off the mountain, back in town, there was a fantastic, sculpture-filled park. Set amid a forest burning all Fall-orange and dying red, it was a great afternoon for saying goodbye to the mountain.

Our driver to Chang Bai Shan and back to our hotel, and around town and all that, was a local man we dubbed Chuckles. Chuckles was the happiest man I have ever met: pure joy in his eyes, he was so happy to meet us, to listen to use speak our bad Chinese, and inform us of all there was to see in the beautiful town, that he simply couldn't stop laughing. Literally, laughing, as in, guffaws marred his speech to the point of incomprehension. Of course, our photographer defied the laws of the universe and managed to take a picture at the only moment in time Chuckles wasn't smiling.

And that's Chang Bai Shan. Plenty more pictures here, if you care to peruse. I'm gonna go shower now, because I won't be able to in the morning.


Grandma Teh said...

Matt: I loved the pictures. You have become quite the photographer.

Megan Kelly said...

matt those pictures are amazing! it makes me wish i was there! even all the sites you are seeing are amazing! Enjoy it! Miss you here! and you look great!

jodie Thomson said...

Hi, liked your comments. We are going to Changbai in a month so your photos gave me something to look forward to
cheers Jodie in Australia