Today, we’re heading to Changbai Mountain in northeast China’s Jilin Province.
Changbaishan is 2749 meters high and is on the border between China and North Korea. It’s capped with snow all year round and has virtually no living vegetation on top. In Chinese, it’s known as Changbaishan – “Chang” for always, “Bai” for white, and “Shan” for Mountain.
The dense forest there is the first big attraction for tourists. There’s a large variety of plant species on the mountainside, different kinds of plants from the Temperate Zone and the Frigid Zone. At the foot of the mountain, you’ll find a forest of broad-leaved trees. At 1000meters, there is a mixed forest of broad-leaved trees and conifers. At 1800 metres, you’ll come across a solely coniferous forest where the trees are straight and strong and have a high economic value. Above 2000-meters, only lichen can survive. In May and June every year, you’ll find countless flowers at this level, adding color and fragrance to the mountain.
The forest of Changbaishan is really a treasure trove. However, people come to Changbaishan mainly for Tianchi, or the Lake of Heaven.
Changbai Mountain is a sleeping volcano, and its last eruption occurred several hundred years ago. This led to a plateau forming on top of the mountain and, over the years, water gradually filled the volcanic opening. Due to its mountaintop location, people started calling it Lake of Heaven. The lake is oval in shape and is about 13 square kilometers in size. It’s about 200 meters deep on average, with the deepest point, 373 meters.
There are 16 mountain peaks surrounding Tianchi. The strongest visual impact comes on a sunny day, when the white clouds are reflected in the water and it seems that the mountain and the lake are in the clouds. But getting a fine day at this altitude and in this location isn’t easy. You might be lucky.
Apart from the crystal clear water, there are big impressive rock formations around Tianchi. No plants, no animals, just a mountaintop setting with water and stone. It ‘s really special!
Local legend has it that there is a monster living in the lake, and that people can often see it swimming there. Over the years, this put off some visitors. But after long-term observation, scientists formed the view that no such monster existed and, apart from a black bear once taking a bath in it, Lake Tianchi had no living organisms in it.
Water from Lake Tianchi forms the Changbai Grand Waterfall about 1000 meters below the mountaintop. The spectacular waterfall is over 60 meters high and its roar can be heard as far as 200 meters away. The water ends up flowing into the Songhua River, one of the most important rivers in northeast China.
There are many other lakes and waterfalls in Changbaishan. For example, just by the side of Tianchi, there is a lake called the little Tianchi or the Changbai Lake. Several smaller waterfalls go through the forests, bringing drinking water to the birds and animals living there.
Thermal springs can bring you another kind of enjoyment. Not far from the Grand Changbai Waterfall, there is an area of about 1000 square meters with 13 thermal springs scattered around. If you go there, do make sure you take a bath in them. It’s really good for your health, and it’s good fun as well!
Changbiashan is the original home of the Manchu people, and today has a large population of ethnic Koreans. The locals are all hospitable and warm-hearted. Their own native customs can provide even more entertainment for the visitor.
(China Radio International 05/14/2001)