Paying for dinner
I discovered the hard way that if you invite chinese people out to dinner you are expected to pay. However, in my particular experience the cost of dinner for 20 people at hotpot including beer was 500RMB so it is not going to break the bank and your chinese friends will love you forever.
Ukrainian Church of St Mary
A classic Eastern Orthodoxchurch was built by the Ukrainian architect Tidanov for the small Ukrainian community living in Harbin. Originally a wooden structure dating from 1922, the present brick church was completed in 1930, just two years before the Japanese occupation.
It is the sole remaining Eastern Orthodox church in Harbin, and is the focal point for the Russian ethnic minority. Back in the late 1940s there were 23 Orthodox churches in Harbin and 128,000 worshippers, but that has dwindled through the ravages of Communist influence to a mere hundred or so today.
The red brick and green domed church is, in many ways, that much more elegant than St Sofia's downtown, and its continued use brings a warmth utterly missing from the latter church.
Opposite is the Nielai Church.
Snow On Sun
Held on Sun Island on the opposite side of Songhua River, the Snow Expo features snow sculptures, the largest ones are storeys high and panoramic.
I also saw slides here, but I think you need to pay to go on them.
Admission 100 RMB, or 50 RMB if you have a student card.
Siberian Tiger Park - Part 2
If you are unlucky (or lucky, depending on your point of view), another person on your bus will have paid to have some poor animal fed to the tigers at the last compound on your route. While it is 'just nature', many people find the fascination that some people have with sadistic animal-on-animal violence a bit worrying. On our trip, one man had paid for a chicken to be put to the gladiators, but the plucky little bird flew straight up on the roof of our bus. It eventually fell off to be torn apart by the tigers. Most of the (males) on our bus were falling over themselves to photograph this spectacle. I have no further comment to make on this, because I'll just get myself into trouble if I do.
The park is worth visiting, in the hope that somehow, perhaps, you are contributing to saving these tigers.
If you are interested in the Manchurian tiger, the following websites provide a lot of information.
Of Ice carvings and clutches....
Yes...we are in China, not Russia! This is the St.Sophia Cathedral. The only remains from the Russian era. The Russians held the town of Harbin briefly and as a result, there were quite a few cathedrals being built around the city. Unfortunately, much of the cathedrals were being demolished during the Cultural revolution.
I arrived in Harbin with a fractured ankle. After a whole week on the train from Moscow (where I conveniently slipped on an icy platform in Omsk), I arrived in familiar territory! A shame that I have missed out on the whole chunk of my supposedly Siberian adventures. But suprisingly, I'd rather enjoyed Harbin, it's a clean and well laid out town.
An ice carving of the Wat Arun in bangkok. The grounds were pretty slippery and I had my fair share of slips...
With me and my clutches...Yes, I managed to spend 2 weeks in China on clutches. Bear in mind the lack of facilities for the handicapped. A picture of me posing with my newly bought clutches!