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Lying to the northwest of Dedu County in Heilongjiang Province, Wudalianchi Lake, formed by a string of five smaller lakes, can be reached from Harbin by train to Dedu followed by a one-hour bus ride. The scenery here is spectacular, with grotesquely shaped peaks, rocks, and caves and the sites of a dozen shield-shaped and fourteen cone –shaped volcanoes. The area is a “volcanic museum” which also attracts scientists and researched as well as tourists.

The youngest but largest of the volcanoes are Mount Laohei and Mount Huoshao, which last erupted 260 years ago. Mount Laohei’s slopes are covered with cinder and are very steep. Its funnel – shaped crater is a hundred meters deep. When it erupted last, the molten lava pouring down from the crater blocked a river and created five dammed lakes. Numbers from one to five, giving them in Chinese the name “Wudalianchi”, identifies them.

Among the many springs in the area, the most famous include South Spring (Nanquan), North Spring (Beiquan), South Washing Spring (Nanxiquan), and Bubbling Spring (Fanhuaquan). The water is cool, bitter, and foamy, suitable for drinking and bathing and said to be highly effective in curing certain diseases.

There are many folktales about the springs. One says that more than a hundred years ago a young Daur herder named Galasangbaiy in fell in love with a woman slave who was called Aqimeige. When the herd owner found this out, he thrashed Galasangbaiyin and threw him in the stables. Aqimeige stole a horse and, carrying her unconscious lover, rode away from the herd owner’s house. But as they were making their escape, the herd owner shot a poisoned arrow which struck Aqimeige. She and Galasangbaiyin both fell from the horse into a spring. The cool water revived them and cured their wounds. To mark the spring, Galasangbaiyin inscribed the words “medical spring” on the rock beside it - this spring is thought to be what is known as South Spring today. After learning about the spring’s magic power, Daur herders swarmed to the spring and erected tents around it so that they too could drink and bathe in its water. Today there are more than fifty sanatoria in the lake area, which can accommodate thousands of patients every year.


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