From the small town that we stayed at that night, we set off to see Dalai Lake. When we approached it, it was large enough that it looked like the sea…but it doesn’t compare to Lake Superior, of course! We were going to pay a fee to enter a “park zone,” but its entrance ticket was pretty expensive for just looking at the lake. So, our driver decided he would go off the beaten track and drive further down the lake to an abandoned pier. We bounced all around the car while Mr. Zhang avoided holes and revved up steep, rocky hills. We stopped at a natural overlook, that is situated on a hill. My classmates and I climbed down the hill and explored.
Mongolian Yurt Looking Out at the Lake
After walking around the Mongolian yurt, I ran over to join my classmates as they trekked across a long, rickety bridge that led to a decaying pier. It was exhilarating and terrifying to slowly maneuver over the bending planks of wood and holding onto the rusty side rail. I finally made it to the pier, which was in even worse shape. Four thick, steel rods held the entire square pavilion up, besides that, decaying planks of wood crisscrossed the floor. Though the condition of the pier was debatable, the view of the lake was worth it.
Decaying Bridge on Frozen Shore
We decided to head back because the wind was getting stronger by the minute. While walking back, I lost a wool mitten–our one casualty from the trip. We got to the shore, played on the ice of the lake shore, and then headed back to the car.
Frozen Shore of Dalai Lake
We spent the rest of the day driving along the Russian/Mongolian/China border to Manzhouli, our final destination of the trip. We stopped by one more Russian border gate before heading into town and eating Russian cuisine for lunch. We had fried cheese, cheesy eggplant, chicken wings, pork covered with fried potato, and other dishes that I cannot remember. I just remember devouring the cheese.
We strolled around Manzhouli for a couple hours waiting for the bus. It felt like I had entered Russia. All the signs were in Russian with small Chinese print to the side. The architecture also did not look Chinese. During our trip and even my entire stay in the North, I have witnessed a completely different China from the South. Here, different cultures influenced northern culture, and its effect are noticeable by its cuisine and architecture.
Waiting for the Train in Manzhouli
Trains of Coal
We took “hard seats” back to Harbin. We played Mafia on the train and conversed for hours until we attempted to fall asleep. Everyone has a hard time falling asleep on a stiff chair, especially me. I finally found a nice equilibrium with my sweater and small dividing table and finally drifted into sleep.