Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fangchuan (防川) - A View of 3 Countries

Fangchuan (防川), a small village in a sliver of land wedged between Russia and North Korea, finds itself in some travel guides for one reason - to be able to view 3 countries from a single viewpoint.

Situated in the Yanbian (延边) Korean Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin Province of Northeast China, the area does contain quite interesting histories for those who enjoy the subject. For the casual traveller, the notion of being at the border of 3 countries is the main draw. In fact, the moment I arrived in Hunchun (珲春), the town that connects to the rest of the prefecture, the cab drivers started quoting prices to Fangchuan. When I asked, "What to see in Fangchuan?", the driver exclaimed incredously, "To see the view of 3 countries (一眼望三国), why else would you want to come to Hunchun??!"!
Well, Hunchun itself is very similar to the other towns/cities in Yanbian. Korean seems to be spoken as widely as Chinese, and dog meat restaurants, barbeques, and kimchis are all over the town. While the road and shop signs in the other Yanbian towns are in bilingual, here the signs are all in 3 languages : Chinese, Korean and Russian. However, I did not see many Russians when I was there.

The journey to Fangchuan and the viewpoint eventually follows a road hugging the Tumen river, and you can see the mountains of North Korea - so near yet so far. When you reach the viewpoint, what do you expect in China? Entrance fees of course. But still, it was interesting, and the closest I've gotten to Russia and North Korea to date! :P

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