jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 119 [28 May 09] – Dandong

Posted in Dandong by jn82 on May 29, 2009

As you can probably guess, I woke up very late today and missed the free breakfast due to the football game from the night before. Brooklyn came to the hotel around 1pm to pick us up for the day trip around Dandong. The first stop was to the Cenotaph of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea, quite a mouthful to say. What this place is basically a museum set up by the Chinese dipicting how Chinese volunteers aided the North Korean soldiers during the Korean War, which started when the Americans decided to get involved in what was a Korean civil war. I will not do into details here or my views of the war, so you can read about the history of the war itself from the internet and make your own judgement.

I paid 15 RMB in the panoramic warzone at the Cenotaph for a printed and laminated photo with me in the war zone background dressed in an authentic (or so I am told) Chinese Voluntary Army uniform. It is an amazingly cheap souvenier I think, when compared to the S$25 I was asked to pay for a souvenier photo inside the mouth of the Merlion at Sentosa.

After the war museum, we were driven back into the city to 鸭绿江断桥 (Yalu River Broken Bridge), which is actually located right in front of our hotel. The reason it is broken is again due to our friends the Americans who bombed it back in 1950/1951, following which North Korea dismantled their half of the bridge. We first set out on a cruise of the Yalu River, from where we went under both the broken bridge and the bridge that is function now between Dandong and North Korea. After the bridges, the boat brought us close to the North Korean coast line, and from here we could peer in and have a look. Well not much going on really, a few boats, buildings standing by themselves and building cranes scattered along the grassy coast line, with a few North Koreans sitting around and looking, not waving back to the tourists on the boat. I had read that the average Joe North Korean is not allowed to interact in any way or even make direct eye contact with foreigners, so this is probably the reason for their lack of response, that and the binocolous using armed North Korean guard hiding in the trees (who had his eye on the boat) with a gun slung across his shoulder which would shoot them if they did anything.

40 minutes later when we reached back to shore, we saw a very displeased Brooklyn waiting for us. It was here and now that he delievered to us the bad news that we will not be able to make our trip into North Korea tomorrow, as the embassy was no longer issuing tourist visas for travel into North Korea as of today. Wow. What a disappointment. Earlier in the morning, I had read that the North Koreans had nullified their end of the 55 year old cease fire agreement with the South, but thought that this would not really have a major impact on the trip. Brooklyn said that the embassy assured him yesterday that everyday was okay, but only this morning had the news come from the North Korean government that no more tourists were allowed, for the tourists safety could not be guarenteed when the North was preparing for war. Extremely disappointed I am, but at least I am alive and will be for some time to come.

Heading back to the hotel for a very short rest before dinner, we decided that we would go to Harbin after Shenyang, since we would have an extra three nights now in China. Brooklyn bought us a very good Korean influenced Chinese dinner as he had planned yesterday, and the poor guy was very apologetic about everything, although it was no fault of his own. He also purchased a souvenier North Korean stamp book and a replica Kim Ill Sung pin as souveniers for each of us.

Following dinner, I went back to the same place as last night for a massage, this time opting to do a longer massage, which cost me 68 RMB (S$15) for 100 minutes, still an extremely reasonable price. My masseuse tonight must have been a champion farm plough girl, because she is extremely strong and really applied lots of pressure to my back and shoulders. The massage was good albeit painful, and I now at 3am as I sit and type this at the hotel, I can feel and see the multiple bruises on my back.

Today’s pictures here.

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One Response

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  1. Joanne said, on May 29, 2009 at 4:09 am

    You put on an Authentic Chinese Voluntary Army Uniform? Authentic like… it was worn before by an authenic Chinese Voluntary person in the army? 😀

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