Travel from Dandong to Shenyang
The last thing we wanted to see in Dandong was the Korean War Museum. Also known as the War to Resist American Aggression and Aid Korea Museum. This apparently gives the Chinese perspective of the war, but it has been closed for renovations for a number of years now. So we thought we would head on. There was the option to go to another border town further north. Ji’an, as there are a number of Koryo tombs there. Luck was not with us as there is only one bus a day, and it leaves at 8:30. Pity, so we just headed over to the railway station and got tickets to Shenyang.
The train ride was quite comfortable and only took an hour and a half. Not bad at all, we were on a faster train and enjoyed the ride. Again there were tunnels galore, and we were constantly popping into them, then out into the sunlight to get a glimpse of the next valley before going back into the dark.
During the trip the weather started coming in. Each valley had a bit more fog and a bit grayer. Arriving in Shenyang at a decent time we set off to find a hotel. There are plenty listed around the railway station, so we went in search. None would accept us! Seriously, finding hotels can be a nightmare! There was one, the Vienna International Hotel that we were always pointed to, and on getting to it, I couldn’t get served. Eventually I was the only person left, and the receptionist turned his back on me and walked off. I don’t think I need to stay here. We just had no idea on where to go.
Looking up a few other places on line (One stroke of luck was that the phone decided to work properly today!) we caught the subway out to one hostel. The Lazy Bee. It seems to be in the middle of nowhere in the city. Still, it should accept foreigners. There was a place before it that would take us, but we couldn’t get a price, and to be frank, the room needed to be condemned. Or cleaned at least.
At the Bee, we were less than amazed that no one spoke English (even if all the signs were in English) and we started a lengthy negotiation to stay. We would only be able to stay in separate dorms. No. We didn’t mind a dorm room but we would stay together. Then we would have to rent the entire room. 240 yuan per night, or 120 to stay separately. There has to be something else in town!
Back online and we were getting desperate. There is another hostel, and it was only a 2km walk away so we made our way towards it, asking at any place we came across. Nothing. The hostel also doesn’t seem to exist at the coordinates they advertised online! Great.
There was an Ibis nearby though, so we stopped in there. It is cheaper than the hostel!
So our accommodation was finally sorted. It only took close to 4 hours! Now it started raining.
We get the impression that the city isn’t worth it, and we are being told subtly, or not, to piss off as it doesn’t want us.
The next day we went to the Imperial Palace. This was built when the Qing Dynasty started back in the early 1600’s. The Qing came from north of the Wall and were the Manchu ethnic group. Over the years they incorporated Han principles and built the empire. Towards the middle of the 1600’s they moved the capital from Shenyang to Beijing and the forbidden city, but they continued visiting and building this palace. It is supposed to be a slightly smaller version of the forbidden city, and used to store backup important documents and treasures.
The Palace is now in the centre of the city, and as you walk to it from the subway station you can see the standard recreation of the old streets before reaching the UNESCO site itself.
Going in we were amazed to find that all the rooms had English descriptions! We got info on what we were seeing from in throne room, where the Emperor conducted meetings of State to the Empresses Living quarters, where the heads of his armies were stationed, and onto the Concubine quarters.
These lucky ladies get their own walled of section in the center of the palace. They also got fairly decent accommodation. Big open rooms, underfloor heating, and awesome cribs hanging from the ceilings.
Then there were other pavilions and rooms for guards, courtiers and all the other flunkies associated with a royal court. It was nice being able to wander around unhindered by time restraints or jostled by too many tourists, as it was really quite empty! Shenyang does not seem that touristy after all! So having said that, we are now considering skipping the Forbidden City in Beijing, as this is supposed to be an almost exact recreation, and we could see it well! There was one slight letdown. The last rooms held an exhibition on what had happened to the palace from the 1920’s-50’s. It was all in Chinese. We cant get too upset about it, we are in China, and the rest of the Museum had more English than nearly anywhere else in the country!