Breakfast at Snow Town
Breakfast was truly as pathetic as our guides warned us. Our breakfast coupon which allowed us entry into the eating hall was also used to exchange for ONE small egg. We were not particularly worried when our guides told us that each person only get one egg at breakfast until we found out apart from the egg that the other breakfast dishes were terribly unappetising.
The buns, cakes and tofu were dreadfully tasteless (plain). The vege and other stuff tasted pickled and very awful. Even the porridge tasted funny. The only edible food was that small little egg. Now we knew why our guides kept reminding us to kept the breakfast coupon carefully so that we could claim an egg each!
Yang Cao Shan (羊草山)
Our first sightseeing destination for the day was YangCaoShan (羊草山) which meant sheep-grass-mountain. YangCaoShan was about 4.5 km from our accommodation in the Snow Town. Yang Cao Shan was famous for its sunrise so we were surprised that our visit to YangCaoShan was started only after breakfast after 8 pm.
To get to YangCaoShan we had to walk for about 20 minutes from our accommodation at Snow Town to a transfer point at the base of YaoCaoShan. We were warmly dressed in many layers so even though the temperature was -12°C the walk was very pleasant. The air was refreshing, cold and sharp. The scene around us was fresh snow everywhere. We supposed we reached the transfer point when we came to a place with many white vans parked by the side and a huge stone with the red words Yao Cao Shan inscribed on it.
We were divided into two groups and went into two white vans. The vans passed through an entrance and drove uphill slowly through rows of trees on both sides of the “snow” road. Apparently anybody who wanted to go up to the peak must purchase tickets and go in one of the the white vans. YangCaoShan visit was another optional item that we had picked up (our original tour itinerary did not include YangCaoShan).
The view at the peak was lovely. The “white” sun, the blue sky and the vast snow field were majestic. There was no strong wind so it was very comfortable and pleasant to walk around. The best part was the place was not crowded with visitors!
We saw a viewing deck up a small hill. Up we go, up the wooden steps that was constructed on the slope. The walk up the step was easy and it did not take long to reach the viewing deck.
The view was even more magnificient at the viewing deck. The sky, clouds and the layers of mountain ranges beyond were lovely. It was about 9.00 am and the sun was still not vertically above. The sun rays casted a silky sheen over the whole surrounding making the view very scenic very “touching”.
Too soon our guides told us it was time to return. This was another of the time we wished we were travelling on our own instead of with a tour group, so that whenever we found a beautiful place we would stay as long as we wanted and explored as much as we desired.
We were back to our white vans that were parked outside a cafe. We would love a good cup of hot aromatic coffee to go with the beautiful scenery, unfortunately the cafe was CLOSE. Our guided told us to pillion ride on one of the many ski bike. “Oh that is nice..we going more places” was the thought that came to my mind.
I sat behind a big size driver that blocked most of my front view and he zoomed off in the direction downhill and in less than a 200 meters he turned around and went back to where we started. “Did we forget something…Is that why we are turning back?” Apparently this was just a “fun”loop ride threw in to amuse visitors. NOT SO FUN for me at all. Another pretty half-hearted, mundane and redundant activity!
For lunch we were back a one of the many dumpling restaurants at the snow town. The lunch included a cooking lesson. We were taught by a local the way to “roll out” dough into dumpling skin, add in filler (meat) and fold the skin to form a dumpling. Instead of making a standard Harbin local dumpling, the group creatively “pressed” dumpling of all shapes and sizes and insisted that our self-made dumplings to be cooked and served during lunch too.
Unsurprisingly lunch was a dumpling affair. Beside the other dishes we were served five plates of dumpling with different fillings. The dumplings were nice but they all tasted the same despite the different fillings. Our self-made dumplings were served too, the sixth plate. They tasted terrible! We definitely did not have good dumpling-making skills at all, the dumpling skins were too thick and each dumpling tasted like a lump of dough!
Getting to Mudanjiang
We finally left China Snow Town by about 12.00pm. We had to boarded an internal-park shuttle at a stop near our accommodation to transfer us the to the main entrance. From there we walked a short distance to our bus and soon were on our way to MuDanJiang. (牡丹江).
The distance to MuDanJiang was 171km and the journey would take about four hours to complete. Thirty minutes into our journey, one by one, several of us started going to the back bus to take off some of our layers. Our bus was a 40-seater size vehicle but there was only 14 people on the bus (including two guides and one driver). The group occupied the front part of the bus leaving the back empty. So whenever one needed some privacy to “strip” some layers just annouced to all the intention and walked to the back part of the bus.
Midway to our final destination of the day it was time for a toilet break. Our bus stopped at Hailin town, it was a very huge and modern town with many highrises, big roads and huge walking malls.
By the time we reached our hotel at MudanJiang it was close to 4pm. It was a international hotel with nothing of interests nearby. No even shops or cafes. There was nothing to do but to rest and relax till dinner at a restaurant in the hotel.
As usual our dinner was great. Many delicious dishes. Fish, pork, prawn and vegetables. Dynasty Travel (our tour agency) definitely fed us very well in this trip. Every lunch and dinner was a table-full of dishes.
Our Room at Grand Legend Hotel MuDanJiang
Our double room at the hotel was huge and lovely. It was clean and comfortable. After the small and basic room at Snow Town our room at Grand Legend Hotel was absolutely luxurious!
The ensuite toilet/bathroom was very spacious, beside the shower it had a bathtub too. A nice hot soak before dinner was so relaxing and refreshing.