TRAVEL: BEAM ME DOWN, SCOTTY
Sunday 14 September 1997
Latitude: 44 27' N Longitude: 124 12' E
Is that a chain-gang or the village collective digging that ditch?
Country and region
China, Jilin province, in the great north-eastern region known to the West as Manchuria.
Nearest human settlements
There is no shortage of people around here. You have beamed down about 6km (33/4 miles) to the west of the village of Dongnanjia, while Changling, the nearest town, is 25km to the south.
Nature of terrain
Flat, green, and in places marshy. You are on the edge of the great Mongolian steppe here, where treeless prairies and rolling grasslands stretch for thousands of miles into the heart of Asia and beyond.
About 50 metres.
Mosquitoes. And there is always a slight risk round here of inadvertently walking into a labour camp for dissidents. Even if you don't, the authorities will not want you wandering in this kind of area by yourself.
Mandarin Chinese. Otherwise possibly Korean or the ancient dialect of the local Manchu people, the former rulers of China.
Take me to your leader
President Jiang Zemin of China.
Likely weather conditions
Right now the weather is as good as it will ever be: clear, blue autumnal skies and warm daytime temperatures of around 20C-25C. Watch out for chilly nights though.
Reasons for hanging around
Manchuria is a good area for trainspotting: the world's largest collection of steam engines can be found here. Otherwise meet up with Mongol nomads, stay in a yurt, or gallop off over the steppe.
Getting the hell out of there
Passing tractors will zoom in on the lost foreigner like magnets. Ask any of them to take you to Changling. From here rickety buses will make the 130km journey to the provincial capital, Changchun, which is connected to Peking and the outside world by air.
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