Dandong

The reason for the trip to Dandong was twofold…firstly it is the site of the easternmost point of the Great Wall of China and secondly it is the border between China and North Korea. As we are unable to visit North Korea we figured we would turn up an peer across the Yalu River towards the North Korean town of Sinuiju. The Yalu Jiang Duan Qiao (bridge) goes halfway across the river…right beside the “friendship” bridge. The bridge was bombed and shot up during the Korean War and the remainder was disassembled by the Koreans.

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We arrived late in the afternoon after a 6 hr bus ride from Dalian. We had limited time in town and we knew we were off to see the Great Wall the next day so we headed out in the light rain to see the bridge. Within an hour the light rain turned into a torrential monsoon. We have been incredibly lucky this trip and have basically had perfect (ish) weather for almost 10 months now. We had one downpour as we hiked up the Taal volcano in the Philippines and we had the evening in Dandong.

We got back to the hotel and not one part of either of us was dry. Our waterproof gear was no match for the downpour…waterproof boots are useless against torrents of water running down your legs and filling them up. Umbrellas once turned inside out by wind do little to protect you…and the rain blowing sideways, by said wind, finds the bits that may normally escape falling rain. The real issue came the next morning when I tried to take a photograph only to find my phone was waterlogged and the images were more smoggy than a Qingdao day.

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The next morning the rain had stopped and we headed to the bus station to get ourselves to the Hushan Great Wall section (Tiger Mountain Great Wall) which is 25 km northeast of Dandong. This section travels parallel to river along the North Korean border and from the wall you look across to North Korea. The border here is a 3 foot high, 3 strand barbed wire fence across about a 3 metre wide creek. You could throw a rock and hit the other side. The North Korean guardhouses are visible in the distance. While it would have been possible to run over and hop the fence… there were warnings against this…and quite frankly the North Koreans are not renowned for their sense of humour…so we looked…and moved on.

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The wall, as the name suggests, was yet another damn mountain. Jill being a reborn mountain goat revelled in the stairs while I chanted my (now regular) mantra of “I f#€%en hate stairs. Within the last month we have climbed about 7 different mountains and quite frankly I am over it. We should both be a lot skinnier than we are with this many stairs. And these stairs were the steepest we have come across thus far.

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The wall was nice, with the mountain goat hike up one side and the (believe it or not) even steeper descent on the other side to a small museum. Then the hike around the bottom of the mountain back to the starting point. A bus back to Dandong and then we spent the afternoon checking out the bridges in the daylight, without the rain.

There is a North Korean restaurant in town where the waitresses are dressed like flight attendants, a rock music backed opera singer show and ordinary food. We thought about it purely for the experience but came to the decision that life is too short to knowingly and willing go to a restaurant where you will be served bad food. the picture below shows the right bank of the river being the developed China and the left bank being flat rural North Korea.

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