Tiger Mountain, the Eastern terminus of the Great Wall

Today the four of us took a trip a few miles outside the city to Hushan (Tiger Mountain) where our climb up onto the restored Eastern end of the Great Wall followed by a less dignified scramble along a narrow path cut into the cliff face that overlooks the border with the DPRK.

This part of the wall was built in the late Ming dynasty (16th cent) to extend the symbol of empire as far as the border with the vassal state of Korea. In fact, Dandong (Red East) was until recently named Angdong (Defence against the East) leaving the people of feudal Korea in no doubt about their status. It turned out to be much less impressive than many of the other parts of the Great Wall but nonetheless had plenty of symbolic meaning for me since I had so much enjoyed my visit to the Western extremity, all those thousands of miles away across the mountains and deserts of central China. Unfortunately I didn’t get much of a picture of myself at this end, a bit of a disappointment to someone who has photographs of herself at both ends of Route 66.

The state of the North Korean border from this vantage point had to be seen to be believed. A narrow branch of the Yalu River separated us from some apparently deserted fields of spindly corn amongst which were scattered various aging bits of chicken wire fence. Eventually we noticed a soldier walking along the river bank only to see him enter a small crumbling mud hut. Another soldier emerged to retrace his steps and we couldn’t help but comment on the contrast to all the pomp that we had witnessed surrounding the gargantuan monuments in the capital.

After this there was only time for a rapid tour of the Korean War Museum, a visit to the Broken Bridge and a boat trip in the company of a party of South Koreans (the girls were extremely taken with Matt and Eliot) and then it was time to see the boys off at the railway station. It seemed a shame to part with them as the previous twenty four hours had been so much fun. I expect that this was mainly due to the release from tension after escaping from the DPRK but they were extremely chivalrous to their adopted “aunties” and have extended invitations to Western Australia. Now that would really be something: there are Aboriginal cave paintings in the outback many scholars now believe depict Chinese explorers of the Han dynasty, a mere eighteen hundred years before the arrival of the Europeans. Elisabeth seemed more interested in the opportunity to set off an explosive charge in one of the huge mining operations somewhere out in the Big Red.

We will have a couple more days exploring this part of China before heading back to Beijing by over-night train.

Categories: China, Far East

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