Monday, April 11, 2011

Changbai Shan

Today I spoke with a man from France who will embark on a three-day adventure in the frightening fringe of China on the border with North Korea. He got in touch with me through couch-surfing. I agreed to be his emergency contact. He and two childhood friends will try to live off "nuts and berries" for three days in the area of Changbai Shan Mountain. I plan to go there with a Chinese colleague soon, but want to avoid any deadly encounters with the monster, the fauna, or the weather.

Lake Tianchi Monster is the name given to what is said to be a lake monster that lives in Heaven Lake (known as Cheonji in Korean) located in the peak of Baekdu Mountain.

Baekdu Mountain, also known as Changbai Mountain in China, is a volcanic mountain on the border between North Korea and China, located at 42°00′24″N 128°03′18″E. At 2,744 m (9,003 ft), it is the highest mountain of the Changbai mountain range to the north and Baekdudaegan mountain range to the south. It is also the highest mountain on the Korean peninsula and in Manchuria.

The Chinese name, Changbai Shan (長白山/长白山), means "ever-white mountain". The Manchu name, Golmin Šanggiyan Alin, means white mountain. The Korean name, Baekdu San (백두산, 白頭山; Baekdu-san), means "white-headed mountain". English-language volcanology resources sometimes refer to the mountain as Baitoushan from the Chinese pinyin rendering of the Korean Hanja 白頭山.

More than 50 mammal species and 300 bird species have been recorded on Changbaishan. Mammals include Far East leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), lynx (Lynx lynx), brown bear (Ursus arctos), Sika deer (Cervus nippon), red deer (C. elaphus), goral (Nemorhaedus goral), wild boar (Sus scrofa), otter (Lutra lutra), and sable (Martes zibellina). Birds include rare species such as black stork (Ciconia nigra), Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata), and scaly-sided merganser (Mergus squamatus). On the northeastern border of this ecoregion there is a vital link in tiger and leopard habitat formed by Hunchun NNR in China and three border nature reserves in southern Primorsky Province in Russia (Kedrovaya Pad, Barsovy, and Borisovskoye Plateau). See Amur-Heilong and the Land of the Leopard

A large crater lake, called Heaven Lake (Korean:천지, Chinese:天池), is located within the caldera atop the mountain.

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