So we left for the train to Changchun at about 7:30 AM. Our wake up call was at 5:45, but since I was jet lagged anyway I was awake by then. The train ride was enjoyable enough, we took what’s called a dong che （动车）, or “D” Train, which are the second fastest trains in China. The entire trip took around 2 hours. The train was very comfortable and clean. I managed to get a seat by the window, so I took a few pictures of the snowy countryside.
The snowy countryside
We got into Changchun at 11:14 AM. Trains in China are very precise and on schedule, and they only wait 2 minutes at each station, so make sure to get on and off the train as quickly as possible. Changchun was a lot more industrial than Shenyang; you can tell by the quality of the sky. I saw a lot more haziness in that city, but it was charming enough in its own way.
Statue in the haze
We had lunch at a dandy little restaurant before going to Jilin City. The food was good, although the room was a bit cramped for 13 people.
Then we got on the bus for Jilin City, which is an hour and a half drive from Changchun. Jilin City is famous for its massive Beishan Park and a section of the Songhua River. Beishan Park was very pretty, and it started snowing when we got there! Although a lot of the other members on the tour thought it was really really cold; I enjoyed the time we spent in the park, just strolling around taking pictures.
Gate to Beishan Park
Temple roof in the park
We then continued on to an attempt to see the famous trees along the Songhua River. Because it’s so cold in Jilin City during the winter, the water in the Songhua River sublimates upon hitting the air. These ice particles then stick to the trees that line the river, giving off the impression that the trees have white leaves.
The river at night
This is actually a photo of a photo.
Sadly, we didn’t get to see any of these trees. Our guide told us that it was because the wind tends to blow the ice away, so there’s only a specific amount of time to see this phenomenon.
So instead of seeing these trees, I found another interesting sight.
Yes, that is deer fetus.
In the north, people believe that different parts of deer are good for different parts of your body. In this case, deer fetus is supposed to be good for girls, particularly their skin.
Afterwards, we boarded our bus back to Changchun and headed to dinner. The food was alright, although it was a bit greasier and saltier than many of the people were used to. Northern Chinese food is known to be oilier and saltier than food in other areas of China; the oil and salt keeps the people warmer at night. Portions are also enormous, again to get people full and warm. So if you’re at all health conscious, this area of China would be a bigger red flag food-wise. I personally enjoy the food, but every person has different tastes.
Once done with dinner, we headed to our hotel, the (hotel name). The hotel was beautiful! The rooms were spacious and the bathroom was amazing with its modern design. I loved it a lot.
A Standard Double
Sadly, I found out that the lock to my suitcase broke. After an hour of clawing and digging at it to get it open, I had to call our guide for help. She couldn’t open it either, and had to call the front, who sent people over to break open the lock. Now I have no lock.
Anyway, I had a really good night’s sleep in the hotel’s comfortable beds. The only drawback to the room was that it was way too hot. I tried to turn the heat off, and even tried to turn the air on, but still the room was a bit stuffy all night.
In retrospect, I think that I enjoyed my time in Shenyang a lot more than my time in Changchun and Jilin. But the Changchun Hotel really is to die for.