----------- host: Xiaolan 02-05-2004 10:43

Located in Jilin Province of northeast China, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture borders Russia on the east and Democratic People's Republic of Korea on the south.

This unique location explains the international feel of Yanji city, the administrative center of Yanbian, and the convenient transportion between Yanji and the major cities in China and neighboring countries.

Changbai mountain

Changbai mountain is the pride of Yanbian. Any snapshot of the majestic mountain in winter would make a perfect Christmas card. And here, you can enjoy all the fun there is to play with snow and ice.

Aside from the natural wonders such as Changbai mountain, the brilliant Korean culture is another winner in the Yanbian travel experience.

'I've never seen snow so thick! Check that out. So if you're not prepared with the right vehicle, right equipment, and right clothes, don't go inside Changbai Mountain, you'll get stuck!' said Xiao Lan.

I bet every visitor to Yanbian would pay homage to the Changbai mountain first thing like I did.

Yet the fact of being a travel hotspot so far hasn't tarnished the original appeal of the mountain. It boasts an excellent eco-system featuring thousands of precious plants and animals.

The successful environment protection goes way back to the time of Qing dynasty, while the area was not open to public for hundreds of years since it was considered the origin place of Manchu.

The highest peak stands at almost 2700 meters above sea level and holds the crown jewel of Changbai Mountain – Tianchi, or Heavenly Lake. 'Absolutely clean and sweet! This is heavenly water from Heavenly lake. All right, let's hurry up,' said Xiaolan.

'I need to catch my breath. And it's a very good spot to enjoy the view of Changbai waterfall. I've never seen a waterfall like this before – half of the waterfall is frozen into glacier!' said Xiaolan.

Coming down through the Changbai waterfall, the water from Tianchi feeds three major rivers in northeast china, Songhua, Tumen, and Yalu rivers.

The trekking toward Tianchi is full of fun surprises, such as, shoving snow. 'We need to clean our own way into this tunnel to get to the lake! I'm getting warm here although it's minus 20 degree celcius!' said Xiaolan.

After a painful climbing in a steep tunnel, I am back to the white snow under the blue sky, only now the sky seems even closer and more transparent. And the air is thinner too.

The dreamlike scenery is not the only thing that is breathtaking. The bone-cutting wind chill literally can take your breath away!

The snow season lasts for about nine months a year in the mountain, hence the name Changbai - always white in Chinese.

'Yeah! Now I'm standing upon Tianchi, the largest volcano lake in china. Well, it seems more like North Pole to me, it's bitterly cold. And this volcano erupted every 300 years for the past couple hundred years. Last time it erupted in 1703, this year is 2003, if you do the math, better not stay here for too long!' said Xiaolan.

But struggling in the harsh wind and bitter coldness, it seems more like a joke to me that I am actually walking on the top of a dormant volcano.

You cannot see a borderline on the lake, but this lake is actually located on the border of two countries: China, North Korea. So in winter the transportation is really convenient -just walk upon the lake!

In winter, the temperature in Changbai mountain can dip below minus 30 degree Celsius, creating many dramatic sceneries such as the famous hoarfrost on trees.

Taking a hot spring bath while enjoying the howling snowstorm, a luxury only to be found in Changbai mountain.

'Check out my bath tub! Have you seen a bath tub so cool before? It's literally covered with snow!' said Xiaolan, 'I just couldn't imagine a better way to relax my aching body from the Tian chi journey this morning.'

Tumen, a border town in Yanbian

Getting out of Changbai mountain, I set out to Tumen, a border town in Yanbian.

Located right next to Tumen river, it is an important port for commercial trading and transportation between China and northeast Asia.

The Tumen gate built in 1990 is now a must-see for tourists.

In Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, the border runs for about 500 kilometers. And alongside this nicely built highway, on the right-hand side, this frozen river is Tumen River, the border river between Yanbian and DPRK. '


Hunchun, a border city of three countries, is a tri-border area. The famous tri-border area of China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Russia is located at Fangchuan port in Hunchun city.

A railroad bridge connects Russia and north Korea. China's border Fangchuan is just 15 kilometers away from Japan sea.

Chinese Russian border runs for many miles from west to east. And this is the last border stone tablet in the east end – 'Tuzipai'. It was established in 1886 by Qing Dynasty and Russian government at the time. 'Tu' is for Russian letter 'T'on the back side. There are also other letters. Over there, across the barbwire is Russia!

Welcome to Vladivostok, in Russian meaning 'controlling east', the largest border port city in the far east of Russia!'

This Russian building behind me is the famous railway station of Vladivostok. It is the east end of the grand Siberian railroad stretching for over 9,000 kilometers from Moscow to Vladivostok. Built over 100 years ago, it's still the main transportation vehicle for local people to get to Moscow.

Modern Vladivostok has been compared to the American West during the Gold Rush years. Businesses from all over the world have flooded in to take advantage of the city's position as a crossroads of Northeast Asia.

'There are many different bus services in Vladivostok. I paid three rubles for the ticket. And for senior citizens, it's free,' said Xiaolan.

The city square of Vladivostok is on the list of must-sees for Chinese travelers. Although not impressive in both size and style, the cozy ambiance makes it a perfect place for local people to wind down, and for me, people watching.

Built in 1890, the city was ceded to Russia in 1898 from Chinese territory.

Although the city has got picturesque landscape and amicable weather, tourism is just a minor business here. The main industry of the city is Shipping and Commercial Fishing.

'Check this out! Vladivostok is really a paradise for seafood lovers because the city is surrounded by ocean three sides. And you can get a lot of good seafood at this largest seafood market in town. And of course, speaking of seafood, there is one thing you definitely cannot miss – Russian caviar,' said Xiaolan. If caviar doesn't cater to your taste, there are many other choices at very attractive prices.

Located next to Japan Sea on a peninsula, Vladivostok is the home base of the Russian Pacific Fleet. As a matter of fact, because of its military importance, it was not open to outsiders from 1958 to 1991.

Hongqi village

Located some 140 kilometers to the east of Yanji and 150 kilometers to the north of Changbai Mountain, Hongqi village is known as the 'first village at the foot of Changbai mountain'.

It is marked on the travel map in Yanbian because of its pure Korean flavor. Almost all families in the village are Korean.

Only in traditional Korean house, can you still find woks and stoves next to Kang. The heating system is beneath this huge platform. This is where they take the heat for cooking, and also for sleeping.'

For Korean people, those are the three lifetime events. So each celebration follows strict rituals. During the one-year birthday ceremony, known as Zhuazhou, the family will first bath the child, and then dress him with traditional costume.

The most important step of the one-year birthday celebration is that the family will put a lot of different items on the table. And let the boy pick whatever he likes. Whatever he grabs first will indicate his future, his future life.

Korean food is world famous nowadays. But tonight, I have the opportunity to try the real home-cooking of Korean people.

Korean food bears many trademarks, such as its spicy flavor, the kimchee, and bean paste soup.

To make rice cake, first soak the rice in water, then pound it with this huge wooden hammer until you can not see the rice. A meal without bean paste soup is not a real meal for Korean people. And it is not a Korean party if there is no singing and dancing.

Korean folk song and dance is of distinguished character, just like their traditional clothes.

To tell a Korean house from the Han style house here, just look at the roof. If the four tips tilt up, it's Korean.

You have to admit Korean people is really gifted in singing and dancing. And they love singing and dancing. It's just hard to remain depressed among Korean people, because they are so happy and open-minded.


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