Thursday, 5 August 2010

Mudanjiang Jingpo Lake

Mudanjiang City 牡丹江市

Mudanjiang is the third largest city in Heilongjiang province, and can be accessed via a 4.5hr drive using the newly built Harbin-Mudanjiang Expressway (哈牡高速). The city gained importance as a gateway city to the nearby Russian border city of Suifenhe and the Jingpo Lake scenic area. The city takes its name after the Mudan River 牡丹江 (which eventually feeds into the Songhua River) that flows through the south of city.

We stayed at the Hawaii International Hotel, which is one of the finer 5 star establishments in this predominantly industrial city.
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The tour coach which had carried us for nearly 2,000km throughout our 9 days journey across the 3 northeastern provinces. Though well over 10 years old, this King Long XMQ6892GC1 is immaculately maintained by her hardworking coach captain, who never failed to clean and mop his bus at least an hour before we set off each morning. It was also the very first time I had encountered a tour coach driver in China who wears a tie along with a buttoned shirt!
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An old Changjiang 长江 bus working service 3. It seems that missing or crudely fashioned radiator grilles are all the rage among public transport operators in this region!
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This popular Yutong model had also been specially modified to accomodate a front engine arrangement instead (note the grilles on the front mask which is absent on the default rear engine arrangement). In addition, the exit had also been shifted to a new position after the rear axle to improve passenger flow within the bus.
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C05045 on svc 201 has a banner which advocates safe and sustainable development. Despite the name of the operator, this service is neither exclusive to female passengers nor solely operated by female drivers! Dongfeng Yangzijiang 东风扬子江 is also one of the less common bus manufacturers in China.
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Jingpo Lake Scenic Area 镜泊湖风景区

Jingpo Lake is the largest barrier lake in China, and was formed when a series of volcanic eruptions created a blockage across the Mudan River. Located 350metres above sea level, the 90.3 square kilometeres lake has an average depth of 40m.

Entrance to the Jingpo Lake scenic area. The park was granted the status of a world geopark in September 2006 by UNESCO in recognition of its unique geological features.
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As a protected area, coaches and other private vehicles are not allowed into the reserve. A fleet of predominantly Iveco minibuses and specialist vehicles are used to ferry visitors to the different attractions in the park.
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En route to the ferry pier for the lake cruise.
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The lake area is home to more than 40 different varieties of fish.
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Ferries deployed for the lake cruise. The cruises run at fixed 45 minutes interval, but as it is the common practice at many other tourist attractions in China, the operators will try to load the ferry to its maximum permitted capacity before setting off.
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A traditional Buddhist temple which is dedicated to the medicine Buddha 药师佛.
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Jingpo Lake is surrounded by the Wandashan 完达山 mountain range.
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The clean air and scenic surroundings in the lake area are renowned for their therapeutic effect. Many of China's large government agencies and corporations own sprawling rehabilitation centres in this region to serve as a retreat for their staff. In order to maintain its exclusivity (and probably isolation), it is only accessible by boat.
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In a bid to limit the environmental impact from tourism, the local government had initiated a ban on new developments in the area. In addition, developers would also have to secure a permit before they are allowed to carry out major works on their existing properties. As demand far outstrips supply, the hotels do not cater to visitors during summer as the rooms had all been leased on a long term basis.
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Diaoshuilou Waterfall 吊水楼瀑布

Diaoshuilou Waterfall is located on the northern fringes of Jingpo Lake and is the largest waterfall in northern China. The waterfall has a drop of 12m and an average width of 40m. The waterfall freezes over in winter.
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The waterfall can reach up to a maximum breath of over 200m during the rainy season in late July - August.
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Diaoshuilou waterfall is also the largest basalt waterfall in the world which is formed due to the caving-in of a gas hole as a result of the volcanic activity in the region.
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The semi-circular waterfall is also popular with stuntmen who sometimes seek to jump down from the waterfall.
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A solitary male deer resting near the waterfall.
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