Dandong Xpat

The Gateway to North Korea

Touring on the Yalu River

Yes it is summer and so the summer tour boats are out in full force, especially on weekends and holidays.  There are 3 locations to get on the tours boats, which each have different routes and sights.

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Tour boat passing a village on an island belonging to North Korea.

Tourist Wharf 1.  Just across form the Zhonglian Hotel beside the Broken Bridge.  This is the main area for tour boats and they take you along the port  and shore of Sinijiu.  You’ll see a water park (newly built), small cargo ships, people fishing, a coal port and likely a few soldiers as well.

Tourist Wharf 2.  This is right across from my favorite coffee shop in Dandong, Peter’s Coffee House (http://peterscoffeehouse.com/).  Here tour boats take you away from the Broken Bridge area and along past a village on an Island of North Korea.  If the tide is up and the weather it good there are generally quite a few people out including children, women washing clothes and soldiers.

Great Wall and tour boats.   This area does not have a tourist wharf # as it’s privately run.  Take  a taxi about 20 min out of town towards the Great Wall.  Just past the Wall there are 3 private tour operators offering about the same service; we like the middle operator.  They will take you on a big slow boat or a speed boat (much preferred) between an island and the main land of North Korea.  You’ll pass a small (very) naval base, women’s and men’s military bases (small) and on the return trip you’ll pass a village and a dock area.  You’ll also pass an old port built by the Japanese as well as water towers built by the Japanese in the 1930′s.

Dandong -Shenyang Airport Express Bus

After years of people making their own way to Shenyang for flights the local authorities finally setup an eSign at Dandong us station for the Express Bus to Shenyang airprot.xpress bus service. The bus runs from the Dandong bus station to Shenyang Taoxian Airport. It’s truly an express bus and has a few luxuries too. The bus has just 3 seats across, instead of the usual 4 per row, so you get wider and more comfortable seating.  The cost is just Y88 RMB (about $14) for the 2.5 hour ride.  Well worth the price and only slightly more then a bus ticket to Shenyang city.

Earliest bus leaves Dandong at 5 am  and the last one at 3:30pm for the 2.5 hour ride.  There is also a  return service, Shenyang to Dandong.

                               Sign at the Dandong bus station for the Express Bus to Shenyang airport.

In case you were wondering, yes Dandong does have  a new airport.  To-date we still only have flights daily to Beijing and 3-4x a week to Qingdao and Shanghai.

Life on the border

Tourists wander around while the bus drive naps...till the next stop

Tourists wander around while the bus drive naps…till the next stop

Some local guys just getting around

Some local guys just getting around

Well life happens here in Dandong and most of it looks pretty ordinary.

Most people don’t pay much attention to the neighbors across the river in Sinijiu or other parts of North Korea.  That is except for tour operators and trade companies which rely on their neighbors. .  Restaurants, especially along the board walk area rely heavily on the tourist trade in the warmer months.  In the winter it’s pretty quiet around here, but very pleasant.

Most street corners have corn on the cob roasters this time of year.

Most street corners have corn on the cob roasters this time of year.

Summer in Dandong

Yes it’s summer here again. The swimmers are in the Yalu River, the iced coffees are being sold and the tourists are here in droves. When I say droves–it’s droves for Dandong but not massive crowds like some places.

People take a boat on the river and stare at what China was once like, 30, 40 years ago. China has come a long long ways since those days.

anyway, my opinion is that you should come too. Take a look at Dandong, glance over at North Korea, which is why people come here…and enjoy a coffee on the boardwalk.

Still swimming in the Yalu River — Fall 2013

Yes it’s true there are still people swimming daily in Dandong in the Yalu River across from the city of Sinijiu in North Korea. At 5 am, yes I’m up then, I usually count 30+ people swimming. On warm afternoons and especially weekends many many more take a dip in rapidly cooling Yalu; fall is coming!

Pictured here is the weekend crowd swimming in the Yalu River.

 

The Dandong Underground

Yes we’re getting an underground…but not the British type. I’m talking about underground shopping.

For the past few months “Walking Street” has been torn up and also the street near it while construction crews worked on digging holes to create an underground shopping environment.

Many cities have these but many also had bomb shelters leftover from the 60′s to work with and convert them. Here in Dandong on the banks of the Yalu River we did it from scratch. Maybe it will double as a bomb shelter….I’d feel safer.

Anyway we’re still a couple of months way from completion and out-fitting, at least that’s my guess.

Come back in couple of months when it gets colder here and we can shop underground, and if that’s not exciting we still have coffee on the waterfront at

Peters’ Coffee House!

Speaking of colder, it’s cooling off to about 12C here at night—which is great for sleeping.

Dandong International school..it’s really happening!

 

 

 

 

 

Yes the Eagle Bridge International School is opening soon in the new city area of Dandong near the new bridge to North Korea. Took a quick tour this morning. I’m impressed.

The new Yalu River Bridge… progress

It’s been a while since I took a trip to the Dandong new city (i.e. Ghost City) to see progress on the new Yalu River Bridge to North Korea, well Hungjingping Island to be exact. Hungjingping is part of Sinijiu city North Korea, directly across from Dandong.

The new bridge’s being built.

I was impressed. The bridge project is moving ahead but is still 2 years away from completion. This is according to our taxi driver; taxi drivers seem to know everything.

The bridge towers are clearly seen from Dandong on a clear. The new bridge is about a 20-25 min drive from the present “Friendship bridge” that connects Dandong with Sinijiu by rail and road. The new bridge will be strictly for vehicle traffic.

As we drove around the new city it did indeed live up to its nickname of Ghost city with I’d guess just 5% of apartments occupied, though many, maybe all, have been sold—again according to our taxi driver.

So make plans now for 2015 to be at the bridge opening ceremony. It may even coincide with the high speed rail (D Train) coming to Dandong, also scheduled for 2015, this is according to another driver of course.


Floods in Dandong…almost.

I’m told that every 10-15 years there is a major flood in Dandong. The last flood was Aug. 21, 2010 so it very fresh is most people’s minds. The past few weeks there has been a great deal of rain, which is unusual for July—we usually see rains in August. So this week after weeks of rain and Thursday coinciding with the highest tide of the year brought back fears of yet another devastating flood. Thankfully we were spared but the boardwalk and river park got a little extra water as the Yalu River spilled its banks.

Enjoy the photos and be thankful the water didn’t get too high this year. I know one business, Peter’s Coffee House, that is particularly thankful having lived through the 2010 flood which saw over 1m of water in their shop.

In Sinijiu things seemed OK, which is good. But further inland North Korea has also been receiving a great deal of rain with report of 1,000s displaced and at least 13 killed to date. The city area of Anju, north of Pyongyang, was particularly hard hit.

New Five Star Hotel for Dandong

For sometime now the Wanda Group, originally out of Dalian, has been working on a new Wanda Plaza for Dandong. It will have the standard office tower, shops, KTV, movie theatre etc. And it will have the not so standard Wanda Hotel—a new class of luxury hotel, so I’m told.

I ran into the new hotel manager manager, in of all places – Peter’s Coffee House, and he told me all about it. It sounds amazing, maybe even better then the current five star Dandong champion, the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The new hotel will be the Wanda Realm Hotel opening December 20, 2013 at 9 am.

Dandong is growing with more national and international brands coming to it’s shores here on the Yalu River, across from the not so growing city or prosperous city of Sinijiu in North Korea.

I plan to be there at the opening of the Wanda Realm.

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