Blogs from Heilongjiang, China, Asia

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Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin February 28th 2014

Harbin! Welcome to a city of blue skies, stackable dolls, and borsch. Oh, and a huge world made from ice and snow - we can’t forget that! Our trip to Harbin was so wonderful. It was great to get away from Xi’an for a little while and enjoy somewhat-smogless air and forks. Yay forks! It makes so much more sense to twirl the noodles with your fork rather than use the shovel-with-a-stick method, but that isn’t what I am here to talk about. I will divide our trip into locations to make it a bit easier to follow. Tigers! Our first big destination was to the famed Siberian Tiger Park! Apparently there are 1,400 tigers there, but only 400 were on display at the time… pick and choose the facts you believe. I choose to believe ... read more
Big, Big Elephants
Rawr.
P1030529

Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin February 1st 2014

It was an early start this morning as I had a lot planned. I was up by half seven, showered and dressed, I headed downstairs to see if the hostel did breakfast. I was in luck, they did. I ordered one of the sets. It was canny nice, coffee, toast, jam, and a ham omelette. I must of been hungry, I even ate the jam! There seems to be a restaurant area, but it was filled with people sleeping, so I sat more in the main reception area, which has a few tables and chairs. I went outside to check how cold it is. The hostel is always nice and warm, so when you go down to the reception area in a few layers, you end up sweating. I finalised my plans for the day at ... read more
Siberian Tiger Park
Siberian Tiger Park
Siberian Tiger Park

Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin January 31st 2014

I was going to get up really early, but I had a bit of a lie-in as I still had an evil headache. I took some painkillers and headed for a shower. Not the greatest water pressure in the world. Must remember to try a different shower tomorrow. It took me ages to get ready because I had to keep going to the bathroom to use the mirror and there was no space to store stuff, so I had to keep going back and forth my different toiletries. It's hard being a girl at times. I went down to reception and inquired about the ice festivals. I booked a tour for that night to the main night time festival (I was still knackered and dazed so didn't know what I'd booked and had to go back ... read more
St Sophia Cathedral
St Sophia Cathedral
St Sophia Cathedral

Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin January 30th 2014

Well Incheon airport was deserted this morning compared to when we left to fly to Japan back in September for our Chuseok holiday. I had left the house early as I was using public transport instead of the airport bus, as it is a lot cheaper, but takes a bit longer. I was amazed when I rocked up to the airport around 9:30 and it was empty. It only took me twenty minutes to check-in, change my currency, go through security and passport control. Winning! Also because I was flying Asiana I was leaving from the main part of the terminal and didn't have to take the annoying shuttle train. Since I had a tonne of time and I was starving, I headed to Starbucks for some breakfast. I got an ice coffee, yes, despite it ... read more
Zhongyang Dajie
Zhongyang Dajie
Zhongyang Dajie

Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin January 29th 2014

Yes, more hot pot, yes, more Central Street, yes, more Starbucks. We got our day started mid-afternoon. We walked down to the square that St Sophia Cathedral is in and ate at the hot pot restaurant we previously pigged out at. After we stuffed ourselves, we bought our tickets to go inside the cathedral and see all of the historical pictures of Harbin, Russian occupation and all. It was quite restored on the outside, but inside was falling apart. It was beautiful and the pictures were very interesting, even though we couldn't read the captions. Which is why the pictures aren't all captioned for you guys…..I am not sure what the pictures are of specifically…. After we explored the cathedral we walked to Central Street and had some mango hibiscus iced tea at Starbucks. I also ... read more
Sauces for hot pot.
Before the broth and veggies came out.
Mmmmmmm.

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Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin January 29th 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDA….- (I imagine Tim Curry singing it to me as he did to Rocky...) Anyways, I woke up a year older. Big ol' 22! Ron had already spoiled me with a treasure cove of books and Legend of Zelda: Windwaker but he was on a mission to make it a splendid day. We got a driver to Sun Island to see the Snow Expo! Sun Island is on the north bank of the Songhua River. It was frozen over and gorgeous. The entry was 240 kuai each. We saw the most astounding snow sculptures and bought a few items from a Russian store…including a Stalin pocket watch. *Sidenote: I am getting that feeling for Joseph Stalin….that feeling that I got when I realized I wanted to know ... read more
waiting for our driver
again.
tickets 1

Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin January 29th 2014

After we enjoyed the Snow Expo, we headed back to our hotel to warm up a bit and then head out to get more Starbucks and eat. We went to a Korean restaurant where we enjoyed a veggie dish but then were brought sushi that was riddled with crab and egg :'( We left and substituted that for BK fries and bought some instant noodles to enjoy back at the hotel. We rested up with curry noodles and American Hustle. We had to check out by noon the next day so we woke up around 9am to get Starbucks and do a little shopping before checking out and hailing a taxi to Haerbinxizhan. Instead of "hailing a taxi", we haggled with a driver and got a 200 kuai ride down to 80 kuai. We spent 4 ... read more
Boiled coke and ginger
Tea.
View from our floor.

Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin January 29th 2014

We have about 300 or so pictures to upload so we decided to have a little 'Harbin series' of blogs with their accompanying pictures. This first blog covers our arrival and subsequent exploring on our first evening. We got up at 6am, our driver picked us up at 7am, got to the train station about half an hour later, and we sat around waiting for our train to board at 9am. It was a 5 and a half hour train ride with a few annoying children in our area :· We ate Speculoos and napped for most of it. The train was really nice and the scenery was enjoyable. We got to Harbin around 2:30pm and hopped in a cab to go to our hotel. Right before that, we ran into one of my students!!! Lily ... read more
Waiting..waiting...
Taxis taxis taxis
Glimpse into our hotel.

Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin January 29th 2014

We slept for roughly 14 hours and awoke to hopefully finding acceptable food for us. We ventured to see St Sophia Cathedral during the day and try and get a cab to a Japanese restaurant. We were very unsuccessful in trying to get one to take us there so we basically gave up and were in quite a damper. We needed food and we needed it fast. We stumbled upon a hot pot and our little Chinese got us a delicious array of mushrooms and veggies and tahini, mmmm. They had pictures so all we had to say was "zhege" (this) and "liang ge" (two) and "bu jirou" (no meat) and "xiexie" (thank you). It was great and delicious. Afterwards we wanted to find the nearest Starbucks and ended up finding three (AMEN! HALLELUJAH!). We got ... read more
Beautiful.
St Sophia Cathedral.
Parts of the square that the Cathedral is in.

Asia » China » Heilongjiang » Harbin January 29th 2014

After several hours of exploring Central Street, we walked down to Zhaolin Park to the nearby Ice Lantern Festival. It was 200 kuai each to enter and we spent the nighttime exploring the sculptures, riding the ice slide, and buying a Russian leader nesting doll featuring Stalin, Lenin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev…and cotton candy. We never made it to Stalin Park to the really, really big Ice Festival, but this smaller one was beyond amazing as well. Enjoy the pictures. Next up: 1/26, inside St Sophia Cathedral!... read more
Right outside the park.
Lanterns.
A couple of ice sculptures.




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