Jilin- No country for old (and young) men
The next province on the list: Jilin.
Together with the provinces Heilongjiang and Liaoning these three provinces make the area that is usually called by the Chinese as “the Northeast”. Within all the cities of Heilongjiang I enjoyed the impressive Russian influenced architecture reflecting the golden sunsets in the evening and the wide illuminated roads at night. Tremendously welcoming people all over the place that take great care of their environment after the great fire in the huge forest area of Daxinganling. Vast forest in a cold climate. So how does Jilin look like?
Wulanhot to Baicheng
What a wonderful start: It’s 80 kilometers against a hair dryer. With every kilometer South I feel that it’s slowly getting summer. I drive until then early evening. The sun sets and so my mood. As I arrive in Baicheng, literally the white city, all I see is heavy smog from the nearby factories. The dust is everywhere. Baicheng is everything but a city made of white marble and gold as one might fantasize. My start into Jilin is as horrible as the roads. Most of the streets are under construction.
Baicheng to Da’an
Another 130 kilometers into the wild. I feel a bit like a lonesome cowboy riding in a dirty wasteland. Strong winds turn the journey again into a physical and mental challenge. However as I arrive in Da’an it seems like an oasis in the desert. There’s a lovely small wetland, dancing folks everywhere and people full of hospitality.
Da’an to Songyuan
I start to like the province of Jilin with my arrival in Songyuan, a rather big city only 60 kilometers from Da’an. Songgyuan is developing rapidly, especially the real estate booms like everywhere in China. I come across an owner of a furniture shop that nowadays runs his own noodle house. 9 years ago, he came to Songyuan to fulfill his dream of a better life. And now he smilingly leads me around his nearby shop having a few employees selling heavy wooden chairs, beds and tables.
Songyuan to Nong’an
These 80 kilometers to Nong’an are not only filled with podcasts on Chinese history but also lots of pleasure. People dance in front of a pagoda while others fiercely whip spinning torps. The pagoda is the entertainment hub of Nong’an. And as I get invited to join the happy slapping I participate until I my ears become deaf from the smashing sound of the spinning torp.
Changchun – Provincial capital of Jilin
Last but not least I arrive in Changchun, which translated stands for city of the long spring. Traffic is crazy, it rains heavily and the city seems like a huge industry metropolis. FAW, Volkswagen, Audi and important suppliers have their headquarters here in Changchun. I’m happy to meet my old friend Frony again that I last met in Indonesia. I would be probably lost without him. He is a truly amazing host who shows me around the biggest campus I’ve ever entered, Jilin University. I still can’t believe the 5-story shopping mall inside the campus. Unbelievable in Germany that one campus stretches as big as a whole city district. Apart from the campus I visit the mansion of China’s last emperor PuYi, to which topic I will separately write an article about China and Japan.
Well, so how do I summarize the crossing of Jilin? An industrial province with great people. Construction everywhere with smiling faces throughout the whole province. I just wish I could erase the smog and dust from the landscape. And this annoying wind…