Finally reached Ji'an on the Chinese-North Korean border after 8 hours on 2 buses, through desolate coal mining towns, pine-tree forests, ginseng farms and a region of round green hills that resemble firm symmetrical breasts of young women in Italian art films. Ji'an lies on the northern shore of the Yalu River, flanked by mountains which once hosted fortresses of the kings of ancient Koguryo Empire, whose UNESCO-listed ruins would be the focus of my visit tomorrow.
Cold and hungry, I stepped into a Korean restaurant and threw away all hesitation in trying a claypot soup dish that cannot be found in Singapore. After all, this is the favorite of the Chinese-Korean community. It was tasty, almost like a lean form of lamb, and the Koreans have used the right mix of spices and herbs.