Chinese New Year came around again, I decided after the warmth of HK, Macau and Guangzhou that I wanted to experience somewhere in the far north of China for 2017's festivities. Harbin, Heilongjiang called me to see its former Russian charms and to embrace its sub-zero temperatures. Oh, I wanted to see what the craze was regarding Harbin's unique Russian history!
Absorbing the Russian grandeur and European design of Central Street's fine buildings I was getting my life for certain! First constructed from the late 1800's this tourist honey pot was paved with cobbles that were shipped all the way from the former Russian Federation, forgetting my Oriental location it was a nice feeling to be surrounded by architecture that originated from my own continent, Europe. Seeing those Russian signs and shop fronts I was pleasantly surprised to see such a respectable Russian presence along Harbin's Central Street! Missing breakfast I took a chance on a Russian bakery to find something to ease that hunger within, calling up my foreign language skills I managed to say 'thank you' in Russian to the lady who appeared to be from that former Soviet nation. Even through those early stages of my time in that freezing city, Harbin was schooling me about its rich history. Who eats ice cream that doesn't melt?! Yes, trust that to be a Harbin thing C!
Yes, food seemed to be a central part of my Russian crusade in Harbin that bitterly cold Chinese New Year's Day, shunning the usual Chinese choices I jumped at the chance to sample some near Russian quality food. Dining at Tatoc Russian Restaurant had to be the one, it had the best reviews on Trip Advisor and with that reassurance I was willing to give it a chance. Hit by the superb warm air conditioning it felt I had walked into a time capsule back to Harbin's Russian heyday! Ordering some Russian Borscht soup was a winner, followed by a fancy version of Russian 'bangers and mash' winning at life I had to have a side serving of mashed potato because its a rare commodity in China! I'm a lover of world beers, turning it up a few notches I took my chances with a Baltika 6, a super strength Russian beer that even my manager, Katy said it wasn't a wise choice for an afternoon tipple! Filled with my starter and main courses I wasn't read to pay up, Harbin there's always time for Tiramisu!
Following on from making my Russian purchases and taking my frozen photos I retreated back to my hostel to regain the feeling of my hands, legs and face, yes it was really that blooming well freezing! To picture how bone-chillingly cold it was, I saw several ice carvings of popular Chinese brands elaborately displayed. One ice carving was of a bottle of 'Hongfu Spring Water', that super-sized ice shaped bottle did not drip a single drop during those near arctic feeling temperatures. This next development leaves me with no doubt in my mind that Harbin was another Spring Festival contender along with Hong Kong because I'm going to be serving three blog posts at least for this frozen Chinese city! Nevertheless, Harbin's first throws of Russian heritage impressed me much, from that pedestrian street to my Russian winter warming food! From that first bit of drama to calling it a night to watch the Spring Festival Gala, I knew that Harbin was next level! Конечно Харбин город! Да!
Until Next Time Harbin!