Dandong is a very interesting city. For those of you who don’t know where it is – it’s a Chinese city that boarders with North Korea. And the only thing that separates these two countries is Yalu River. Being in Dandong you can see what’s on the other river bank and buildings in Sinuiju (North Korean border city). We’re sure you want to know what it is like to visit the end of the world…
Coming to Dandong
We came to Dandong in the evening by train and headed straight to our hostel. We needed to get there by walking along the river bank and noticed that the city was bustling. There were many people by the river and there were many sellers with food and weird toys for children and other bibelots. We were very tired because we took a long travel form Shanghai. And that’s why we just wanted to go straight to the hostel and see the city on the next day.
The hostel was ok and it was rather a cheap option, but we really liked that there were some animals – they had a dog and rabbit. The disadvantage was that there were thousands of mosquitos in our room and we woke up bitten by them in the morning.
One day in Dandong
We had only one day in Dandong and on the next day we had a trip to North Korea. So we had many thoughts in our minds on that day. We woke up and went to the river bank. We spent there a lot of time just looking at the other side of the river and were thinking what it will be like in North Korea. It was a very disturbing feeling. We had in mind that this country follows its own rules. But we were also very curious what it’s like there. There are not many documentaries or coverages on how traveling in North Korea looks like. We also wanted to make our own opinion about this country because the mainstream media always show only its dark side.
We know that this dark side really exists and horrible things happen there. Yet we still wanted to see what it’s like to be there, if there is something positive – just see it with our own eyes.
Dandong vs. North Korea
We realized that being in Dandong we focused more on North Korea. But its tourism is also largely based on the fact that it boarders with this country. There are North Korean restaurants with waitresses from North Korea wearing their national dresses. We saw sellers that were selling different sorts of things connected to North Korea. There was for example a guy that wanted to sell us badges with leaders. We don’t know where he got them from because it’s only legal to wear them by North Koreans and you won’t get them anywhere in North Korea (we wrote about it here). Maybe he smuggled them somehow?
Two bridges in Dandong
There are two bridges next to each other. The first one – Sino – Korean friendship bridge that connects the river bank and the trains go via this bridge to North Korea (just like we planned to do on the next day). And the second one – the Broken Bridge. Now it serves as a viewing platform for tourists that want to get closer to North Korea. It once connected the two cities but it was damaged during the Korean War and now there remained only one half of this bridge. So tourists buy tickets and go to the end of this half bridge. We would definitely go there, if we wouldn’t plan to go to North Korea. But we knew we will go there and decided to skip this attraction.
Dandong city – Final thoughts
In conclusion, it was a strange feeling to be in Dandong. We kept thinking about our travel to North Korea. We were comparing the views on the other side of the river and wondering what the next day will bring and if we will be able to feel safe in this mysterious country.
During the evening we were looking at the Yalu river and thinking how many people tried to go over this river to escape their country. We were thinking about every movie we’d watched back home and couldn’t stop imagining the next day. We went to sleep earlier that day because we had to get up early in the morning for the trip of a lifetime :)