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Big disappointment at Changbai Shan

View Jilin 2018-2019 & Greece trip, 2018 on baixing's travel map.

It was raining heavily when I woke up, so I grabbed my good umbrella and my raincoat before I went out for the weekend. I bought my bus ticket the day before, so it was easy to make it on time for the 6:35 a.m. bus. The only one of the day. Booking.com called me about my refund from last weekend at 2 a.m., so I had absolutely no problem waking up for the 5:30 a.m. alarm I set... sigh.

The bus ride was uneventful, aside from two disgusting bathroom stops, the first had a pile of used menstrual products in the corner in lieu of a garbage can, and the second had maggots on the floor, beside the hole I peed in. Yummy. But alas, no one comes to Jilin province for luxury.

When I got to Songjianghe, I bought my return ticket right away because I had no idea when I'd be able to get back home. I also found out how to get to the other side of the mountain for next time. That bus leaves at 2 p.m. from Songjianghe. So I'll probably take the bus there and train it back on Sunday afternoon, if it fits with my schedule.

Anywho, then it was a short stroll to my homestay, but I couldn't find it, as usual. So I called them from another hotel. It feels rude, but what can you do? They came to pick me up and brought me to an apartment around the corner. Just like couchsurfing, but I get my own TV and bathroom AND I don't have to socialize with people I probably don't like anyway. Ha.

I was bored and a little hungry, so I went to find dinner with my new Baidu map skills. Now, I permanently keep a photo on my iPod that just says "What's good to eat here?" and so I went to the top rated restaurant on Baidu, and showed them that picture. I ended up with a bunch of local black fungus that was presumably grown on the mountain. Or not, doesn't matter, it was still delicious, especially with some beer and rice.
After walking 2 km back home, through the depressing town with its muddy creek, I found my hosts getting ready for bed. They told me they couldn't make me breakfast in the morning so they gave me 20 yuan back. So nice of them! I went to bed early to get started on the mountain early the next day.
I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and left at 6 a.m., thinking the bus would take an hour to get to the park. It seemed like nothing was open anywhere at that time, so I headed to the bus stop. However, I saw one man slurping something in a little shop. He was having tofu na'er, spicy tofu soup and a couple baozis (steamed stuffed buns). I ordered the same thing, I know it was definitely not gluten free but it was so great and homey tasting that I didn't regret it for a second. Also, I already wrecked my intestines with the beer the day before anyway.
After breakfast I got on bus #1 to the park but in reality it didn't go that far at all. It spit me out at the tourist centre, but I found out that it didn't open until 8:30 anyway. At that point it was 7:15 ish, so I just wandered around looking at closed shops and hotels. Suddenly an old man jumped out of his little inn to invite me inside out of the cold. He gave me some tea with honey. I sat at a little table writing my blog on the back of my hotel booking confirmation while the friendly old man prattled along in Chinese that I couldn't understand whilst eating his breakfast of instant noodles.

At 8:30 I went over to buy my ticket but unfortunately there were none to be had. I was informed that it was "too icy" and I'd have to wait until the ice melted to go up the mountain. A lovely ticket selling lady informed me that there was a 10% chance I'd be getting to the peak today. Oh great. But she was excited to speak English to me and she showed me her English book. I figured I could read some with her while waiting for all that ice to melt. Good god.

So that's what we did. There were a few songs in her book and we listened to them together, Elvis Presley's Love me Tender and the Rhythm of the Rain by the Cascades recorded in 1962. On repeat. Countless times. She invited me out after I was done with the park and I agreed, because of course I had no other plans.

Finally at about 10:30 we were allowed to buy tickets and make our way up the mountain, however, only the canyon part was accessible.

To a Canadian this seemed excessive, there was no snow in the city at all, and when I got up to the canyon, only a few centimetres had fallen. I don't know how clumsy Chinese people are in the snow, but it must be atrocious. I was greatly disappointed by this turn of events. I had mentally prepared all week to do a big hike, but all I got was a little loop on the lip of a canyon. Don't get me wrong the canyon was very peaceful and quiet, the gentle snow that had fallen on the trees made a beautiful scene, but it was decidedly not what I was looking for. Oh well, nothing I could do about it. Again.
I took too many selfies because they looked like they were too dark on my camera. But now, looking at them on my computer they seem fine. Oh well...

All the buildings in this park are in the "ski lodge" alpine style and they really go overboard when promoting their no-flush enviro-toilets. Guess what, I had the same toilets on the bus ride up here, they're not that much better...

When I got back my friend was waiting for me at 2:30, after she got off from work. Someone on my bus latched onto us, she spoke better English than my first friend, and I have already forgotten both their names. The second friend suggested we go to KTV and so we did. I threw on some Green Day, No Doubt and Hole tunes and they loved it. They didn't even know what punk music was.

After many hours singing karaoke, Friend #2 went home and Friend #1 and I went out for Korean food. She is actually Korean, and her first language is Korean, so we had a great time talking about Korean things. Eventually I had to go back to bed and she promised to let me know when there was enough snow to go up the mountain in a snowmobile, which is usually in January. So, I think I will take her up on that offer. She paid for dinner AND karaoke and ALSO walked me back to my place and then took a taxi back to hers. That was crazy nice of her.

I woke up to get to the 7 a.m. bus back home and I was assigned a seat near a huge college student. There was no room for me on the seat next to him so I had to keep moving around to empty seats as they came available. Honestly, people this huge should have to buy two tickets. I'm not being insensitive, it's ridiculous sitting beside someone of this size.

There weren't any maggots at the bathroom stops this time, but there were about five women staring at me while I tried to pee in the rudimentary washroom. If anyone knows anything about me, it's that I USUALLY can't pee or poop if someone is in the same room. Honest to god, there was a line of women just staring me down while I squatted over the concrete hole in the ground. There were no doors or any privacy at all, as you can imagine. I started shooing them away because I really needed to pee and my bladder was NOT cooperating. What did they do? They came closer and started offering me some toilet paper! NO I WANT YOU TO STOP STARING AT ME! I didn't want any of their toilet paper, my god. Finally I think they got the idea and they backed off by two or three steps. It didn't really help because they still watched me try to pee from outside the little hut we were in. It was the worst pee of my life. At the next stop (two hours later!!!) I had a real door so I peed to my heart's content.

Posted by baixing 03:44 Archived in China Tagged shan songjianghe changbai

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