jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 118 [27 May 09] – Dandong

Posted in Dandong by jn82 on May 29, 2009

This morning, we took the subway to the Shanghai Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) train station. The Maglev is a fast train which travels at 300km/h, reaching Shanghai Pudong airport Terminal 2 in only seven minutes from the city. The record speed for this route is 500km/h, but I guess for operational efficiency the top speed is capped at 300km/h. Costing 40 RMB one way if you can produce a valid airline ticket (50 RMB otherwise), it is not an extremely cheap way to reach Pudong airport.

We got to Pudong Terminal 2 about an hour and a half before our scheduled China Southern Airlines flight to Dandong city, so after checking in we had some lunch at a noodle cafe. The price of airport food in Shanghai is not as ridiculous as other Western city airports, but more expensive compared to downtown Shanghai. At around 12.45pm, we boarded the Boeing 737-300 CZ 6755 bound for Dandong. The flight itself was okay, and was filled with mainly PRCs except for two Indians and one Caucasian man. Although they did serve a simple lunch of either chicken or beef with white rice, there was no in-flight entertainment available. It did feel like a pretty budget flight as the plane was a narrow body single asile aircraft, where the seats were pretty narrow and had well worn cushions, and the whole plane itself was old. Around two hours later, we arrived in Dandong.

The airport was the smallest one I have ever seen, where there is a single runway which leads straight to a large concrete area outside the main airport building and control tower. There is no space for more than one aircraft at a time here. After a short walk from the plane, past the seemingly bombed out control tower, we arrived at the main airport building, if you can call it that. The building just consists of one baggage carousel and two toilets! Amazingly small, and I was very amused. Flying in to Dandong, you will not guess that the city itself has a population of 2.5 million as I later found out, with >700,000 people living downtown.

We met out guide Brooklyn at the airport, and he brought us to our hotel 中联大酒店 to check in and leave our bags. The hotel is a four star one, as you can see we are sparing no expense now, ha ha. No really, it is quite cheap at 388 RMB per night for a twin share, so works out to just S$42 per person per night, inclusive of breakfast. After dumping the bags, we proceeded to the travel agency to make the payment for the upcoming North Korea trip. Once that was done with, Brooklyn drove us 20 km out of the city to Tiger Mountain

Tiger Mountain is a small mountain range located almost at the border with North Korea. It is here that the Great Wall of China started, and so is quite a landmark in Dandong. Unfortunately in the years after the many wars and invaders China has had to fend off, the stones of the original wall were removed by the locals for the building of their houses, so the wall that stands at the site today is largely a reconstruction which was completed in 1993. At the base of Tiger Mountain, we got to have our first glimpse into North Korea, which was just one metre away across a small stream. All we saw in front of us was lots and lots of light brown coloured farm land, not very exciting. We walked from the base to the highest point of the wall, and from here you can look into North Korea and compare the difference between these two countries for miles. There is really quite a big difference, where although on both sides you see farmland, on the North Korean side there is a distinct lack of any other visible infrastructure, while on the Dandong side you can see many roads, buildings and cars around the farm land.

We left the mountain area around 7pm, and headed to the city where we got dinner, and cheap foot reflexology for only 38 RMB (S$8.20) for 40 minutes! We headed back to the hotel around 10.30pm, afterwhich I stayed up all the way till 5am to watch Manchester United get defeated 2-0 by FC Barcelona in the finals of the Europeans Champions League with her.

Today’s pictures here.

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