Thursday, October 6, 2011

Changbaishan


I awoke at 4:30 AM, met Shannon (my intern), and we hailed a cab to the bus station on Remin Da Jie. It would have been a cold walk. We waited there for the other nine people--colleagues and their partners--and boarded a bus at 6 AM to go to Changbaishan.

The mountain represents the mythical birthplace of Bukūri Yongšon, ancestor of Nurhaci and the Aisin Gioro Imperial family, who were the founders of the Manchu state and the Chinese Qing Dynasty. The name literally means "Perpetually White Mountain Region" in Mandarin Chinese. Koreans consider Mount Baekdu (their name for it) as the place of their ancestral origin and as a sacred mountain, one of the three "spirited" mountains; the one contained in the legendary foundation of Korea. From the beginning of history through the Three Kingdoms period, to the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties, Koreans have spiritually depended upon the “divine” mountain. There were plenty of them at the mountain..even some waiting with us in this line. You have never seen so many people!

Yup...and over-run with humanity.

The mask is for warmth or is she afraid of the fresh air?

There were hundreds of these vehicles hurtling up the switchbacks, screeching their tires on the sharp turns and slamming the faces of tourists against the windows as we sought to take pictures of the extraordinary scenery.

Largest crater lake in the world! Might be the highest mountain I have ever been atop, as well.

You are considered lucky if you can see the lake and we were blessed with clear days and seriously cold temperatures.

If you look carefully, you can see Kim Jung-Il standing on the other ridge behind me. He is very small.

This is called an environmental bus because it uses natural gas. This is how you get up the first half of the mountain before transferring to a jeep.

It was lovely in the aspens...and cold.

I was amused by the juxtaposition of this couple standing on stones at the edge of this stream and the sign that warns "No Nearing." I think they could not get nearer.

Shannon Brien (PEA '11) and Alexander Lee (PEA '93) posed for a picture for
The Exeter Bulletin
at the waterfall near Changbaishan's north entrance.

Hundreds of people took our picture, because white people are a curiosity, but when I went to take a picture of these adorable twin boys, the shy one headed for mama.

Everywhere there must be a plaque.

The three characters in the upper-right mean Chang (Long) Bai (White) Shan (Mountain).