Fun-filled Educational Trip To Changbaishan
My travel to Changbaishan, China was part of the requirements for my Bachelor of Science in Tourism course. It was also the first time I travelled alone in the third largest country in the world. For someone whose knowledge of China is about its booming economy and Chinese goods that flood the American market, I became eager to know that there was so much to learn about their traditions, history and culture. Upon arriving from a China Southern Airlines flight via Beijing I was welcomed by its enormous landscape full of contrasts and a climate that varies from region to region. Changbaishan was a challenging travel experience, I was fortunate enough to discover this amazing country on my own.
The start of my five day journey began with getting acquainted with my nine other foreign tour mates while waiting for our tourist shuttle service. While we travel on the mini bus our tour guide gave an overview of the attractions we will see in Baishan, a town in the Jilin Region. The first attraction we visited was the Changbai Mountain Waterfall. We took an easy trail to get to the hot springs area and see the beautiful cascading waterfalls against a backdrop of its surrounding mountain summits. The roar of the falling waters was such a spectacle and we can’t help but be charmed by this wonder. It was amusing to see the spray mists forming rainbows along the visibility of the falls. I went along with my tour mates and we took turns posing for our photo opportunities with the waterfall behind us. There were so many tourists and locals who kept trailing along the path to the valley where the water leads. I bought colored stones from a hawker who keeps insisting I buy his wares. My trail pants were all wet when we slide like kids on the slippery trail paths. It was so much fun! The particular fresh mountain air, the blue sky and the rushing waters was like being in a pure fairy tale wonderland. We were lucky enough to be there on a clear weather. The locals there say it’s not exciting to see it on the winter season.
After playing in the water we head to the nearby Changbaishan Tianchi, more commonly known as the Mt. Tianchi Lake. This beautiful lake is actually a crater lake but with the absence of sulfur emissions and smell surrounding the crater. We had a great view of North Korea from its vantage point. From the mountaintop nothing is visible because of the foggy atmosphere. The valley was u-shaped formed from its last eruption. The sight of the blue still waters is such a relief from the slippery paths we have treaded. We took a dip on its therapeutic Changbai Hot Springs and felt relaxed and comforted. I saw a wooden map hoisted between concrete poles where the names of the peaks were clearly indicated including their depth and range. A huge Chinese friendship arch welcomes incoming tourists to this attraction. The only thing I found irritating was the pushing and shoving when the crowd gets disorderly at the covered observation point. Some tourists cannot wait for their turn to have a good photo opportunity to capture its scenic beauty. It cannot be helped because the lake has a dormant volcano that has an admirable mystic charm and unique landscape. I rented a telescope for five dollars to have a closer view of the lake. The cozy weather, floating clouds, and the snow capped peaks, makes it a breath taking panorama!
The next day we went back to visit the Changbai Mountain Maze where we got to tour inside one of the caves facing the lake. It was so cold inside and it was so amusing to see the other part of the mountain covered in ice while the other side has sun shining on its lush green forest parks. The rock formations inside the cave were stunning. I loved the walk inside the redwood forest that leads to a white wilderness. As we trail along the forest, we were lucky enough to see rare wildlife animals like east Siberian tigers and white furred monkeys. This underground forest was very spectacular, the only thing that ruins its beauty are careless tourists who keeps throwing trash around. Park facilities should create awareness of keeping the mountain maze clean. Or else this attraction will become unappealing because of the mess.
The next day was spent exploring the beauty that surrounds the Heifengkou of Changbaishan where the whistling winds seem to whisper its name around the mountain. It felt like entering a fairyland and you get to appreciate its full unexplored beauty on your own. It was sunny when we were trailing this mountainous part, but by the time we reach the top and got a good view of the waterfalls, it started to rain we have no choice but to turn back and walk the slippery concrete paths. Afterwards we checked out the Changbaishan Canyons, a wonderful array of rock formations formed from the soil erosions and volcanic eruptions the mountain has experienced through the years. After this we visited the other lake within the suburbs of the mountain called Baisan Qingshan Lake. We had a great afternoon picnic on this calm lake lined with wooden pathways and great mountain views. We also checked out the small lake called the Longshan Lake Scenic Area.
On my fourth day in Changbaishan I visited and shopped for herbs and Chinese medicines in the Changbaishan Forest Product Market. Some of the powdered medicines I bought actually came from dried bones of rare animals and sea creatures. After learning so much about medicinal properties of herbs and animals, we head out to check the Changbaishan Manshu Cultural Museum. This museum boasts of eleven sections discussing the richness of the historical culture of Changbaishan. It is surprising to learn that in the days of the Emperors, ordinary people are not allowed to enter any palaces and high walled structures. Today, most of the museums and old palaces are free and anyone can visit. By contrast, life on this side of China focuses mainly on its attractions and cultivation of its existing farmlands to be able to survive.
The best part of my tour was the famous attraction in the northwest part of the mountain, the Lushuihe International Hunting Field. It is a hunter’s paradise in a vast and lush forest setting. After attending a short seminar about the rules of engagement we were divided into three groups and assigned our area for hunting the wild animals. Each was given Air Rifles and designated positions. Our group goal was to aim and shoot within 20 to 30 yards from our target. The hunting field was more than six thousand hectares and divided into three sections. Our group was assigned in the breeding area. It was so challenging and I got a lynx as a reward at the end of the day. I went home with a certificate in the advanced hunter category.
Later that day I went out with the rest of my tour mates to enjoy the skiing rinks at Baishan Skiing Fields, it is the best venue to get acquainted and bond with the new friends I made on this tour. By evening, we filled our tummy and sang to our heart’s content at the Karaoke System of the Di Hao Jiu Lou Karaoke Bar and Restaurant. We even rented a private room where we had a small contest on who can sing best any songs on their selection. It was a good way to end our successful tour. We also enjoyed a nice selection of Chinese cuisine, they surely have superb service. I gave out my personal numbers and email address to my tour buddies before catching back my flight to America that evening. I went home filled with wonderful memories of this laid back city.
I cannot wait to go back there again and explore its natural wonders. Changbaishan is worth a visit!
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