Wudalianchi -- "Five Large Connected Pools"

  • Seven hours further north of Harbin by train, there is a place that draws a little attention - Wudalianchi, literally the "Five Large Connected Pools".

    For centuries this little village, high up in the inhospitable northeast of the province, remained cut off from external intrusion, housing only a few hunter-fishermen. The area was not the safest, not only rugged and populated with ferocious animals like the now almost extinct Siberian Tiger, but also one of the only volcanic regions of China, this area's last eruption occurring in the early eighteenth century.

    Even when northeastern China became popular, with both Japanese and Russians realising the strategic importance of Manchuria for Asian dominance, the village remained obscure. The exploratory Russians in their building of the extensive Dalian-Vladivostok Railway ignored Wudalianchi. It was not until after the Cultural Revolution in the early eighties, with the commencement of large scale economic development and when academic freedom once more came to the fore, that scientists (mainly geologists and vulcanologists) attempted to highlight the medical uses of the spring water. The resort now is a haven for the infirm and ailing, flocks of people from all over China coming here to dip their skin disorders, balding hair, and badly circulating limbs into the hot spring waters.

    This is still a place for those after a bit more of a challenge, brisk temperatures and 14 volcanoes to scale are good exercise for those visiting this area. It is also a great place to relax, be it bathing in a hot spring or strolling the wooded slopes after a bit of isolation