We got up at 6:30 and were on the road by 7:30. We had kind of a long drive out to Three Corners, which is very easy to find on a map. Find China . . . then find Russia . . . then find North Korea . . . then find where they meet. That is Three Corners. It was created by the Chinese push to get a port on the Sea of Japan, which was stopped when Russia and NK came together, blocking them less than 1/2 kilometer from the sea.
We got to climb up to the “3th” floor of a building (try and spot the Engrish in the sign above!), where we could look to the left and see Russia, and look to the right and see North Korea (bottom pictures). It was good picture moment.
There were two souvenir vendors at the top also, selling products from all three countries. The first things I saw when I walked in were babushka dolls . . . wait a minute, is that Sadaam? And Osama? Yes, and yes. I’m not sure if they were there as a joke or what, but there was the beginnings of your dictator/tyrant/terrorist doll collection. Inside Osama, there was Sadaam, Arafat, an unknown man, and Hitler (no joke!), but the Sadaam doll just contained different pictures of Sadaam.
Much like the priest calendar, I thought it was ridiculous at first, but as soon as we left I wished I had bought one. Luckily, Amanda bought the Osama doll and I was able to buy it from her (for 50 yuen, or around $7). I’m going to send it to Brian, my pen-pal who just got back from Afghanistan!
On the way back to the farm for lunch, we stopped at a restroom at the side of the road. Behind it was the fence indicating the Russian border. The guys climbed over it to pee on Russia, while we added drama by yelling “The Russians are coming! You’re going to get shot!”
Our last lunch in the cafeteria was not my favorite, but I did enjoy the sprout and onion dishes that I had grown accustomed to. The funniest moment was when Edwin grabbed a leaf of lettuce and stuffed the entire thing into his mouth. He had just eaten a pepper that was apparently incredibly hot, and he was tearing up involuntarily. He continued like that, crying and eating lettuce, for quite a while. Tanner was just lucky he didn’t get a hotter one; he never did seem to catch on that they weren’t bell peppers, even on day 8.
After lunch, we went to Hunchun for one last shopping trip. Some people went to buy the amazing ‘mink’ blankets that we had been sleeping under this whole time, and the rest of us went to a huge department store. We went through the women’s clothing at a run, stopping only to take pictures of the Engrish. Downstairs, we perused the interesting foods available, including ants, snakes, and lizards. I bought a bag of dried fruit (mango, papaya, kiwi, and pineapple!) and a colorful umbrella for about $2 each.
We continued on to Tumen, a Chinese town on the bank of the Tumen River, which serves as the North Korean border in this part of China. We paid 20 yuan ($3) to climb to the top of a building where we had a good view of the North Korean town across the river.
There were some interesting things to see . . . We had a direct shot at the portraits of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung displayed prominently on the main building. Even on the side we could see, the side facing China, many of the windows did not have glass in them; they were either left empty or where taped over. We saw TV transmission towers that Jesse said were fake. He also said that they have a steam engine that leaves the station every hour, on the hour . . . but backs back into the station a few minutes later. The best example of the situation in NK is the new Joshay (?) Tower. Joshay is their new policy of Self-Relience . . . but the tower’s power lines are connected to China. Oh, the irony. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
We also got to walk out on the bridge that connects the two towns. Jesse had told us that there would be armed Chinese and North Korean soldiers standing there, but apparently they’ve gotten lazy. We never saw any North Koreans, and the Chinese soldier that they sent out with our group was unarmed.
We got some pictures taken and I would have ‘stamped’ my passport, but the ground right over the line was neutral territory, not NK. We had been hoping to ride little rafts down the Tumen River, because apparently the guides will steer them over to the other side and you can touch the land, steal a rock, etc, but they don’t start running until July.
There were considerably more shops in Tumen, so we did a lot of souvenir-buying. Tanner bargained his tiger painting down to 125 yuen from 450! I bought North Korean money, a purse, two maps (including a world map with China at the center), and a watercolor.
For our last dinner in China, we went to Jesse’s favorite stick place. It was pretty deluxe. I had a horrible headache and wasn’t feeling very well, so I only ate 7 or so, in addition to a little bit of pig heart, which was very lean and surprisingly good.
But Ian was a whole different story. He ate 45 sticks, easily smashing the previous farm record of 40! I wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or disgusted, because that was a couple pounds of meat. At one point he took something out of his mouth and it looked like he was gagging, an we were all worried because we didn’t want to see what 40 sticks looked like!
Oh, and I can’t fail to mention this: we saw a fat Chinese girl before dinner. It was memorable for its singularity.
We took another taxi back from the restaurant. This was even more of an adventure . . . The guy was booking it, going over 130 kmh, which was very fast when considering that we rarely broke 80. But then he slowed down rather quickly, and we thought we were going to have to through the whole ‘Russian border’ thing again. No, he had blown a tire.
So we’re standing on the side of the road at night, in the middle of nowhere between Hunchun and Teyan. I thought the next car that came by was Timothy, so I waved it down. It wasn’t. They screeched to a halt, though, and backed up to see if we were okay. Of course, I couldn’t explain this misunderstanding in my 20 words of Chinese, so I just stood there, embarrassed, until they drove away. Apparently they stopped for me because they probably thought I was a Russian prostitute. In that part of China, they assume all white people are Russian (after all, we assumed everyone we saw was Chinese). I decided to be flattered by that assumption.
Anyway, the next car was Timothy, so we told him what had happened. When our driver had finished changing the tire, we got in and he sped away again. We thought he was trying to catch up with Timothy at first. But then Timothy slowed down to make the turn onto the small, unmarked road to the farm, and the taxi driver took that opportunity to pass him! It was such an ordeal just to get to the house.
Jessie White and Zaibin were there when we arrived. They had come to say goodbye. I took a shower while we uploaded all of our pictures to the computer. There turned out to be 1,500, which is way too many to put on CD easily, so we decided to put them on my camera’s memory cards. We got to the end and found out that there were exactly 7 too many! Thankfully, we found 7 to delete. We also gave TU t-shirts to all the cousins and got a great group shot. Then it was time to say goodnight and goodbye, sadly.