Consumerism has taken China by storm. In Harbin's city center, there is a pedestrian mall, who's name escapes me right now. But it is lined with clothing shops, restaurants events, vendors and lots of locals and some Russians shopping or just looking. At the end of the pedestrian mall (northern end) is a statue that is a popular place to hang out, especially since it's close to the riverfront. The riverbed is wide, but the actual river itself is, at least in the late summer/early fall, a great deal smaller. So the rest of the river bed on the main city side is used for various purposes.
Many people rent and fly kites, some send paper lanterns off into the evening sky, kids play with large sparklers, adults and lovers walk. Some people watch karaoke performances while eating from the vendors. Others watch in-line skaters weave effortlessly around cones on the sidewalk just up the stairs from the river.
In the evening, once it gets dark, there seems to be some sort of light show from the other side of the river... there are a bunch of bright spotlights that turn on and move around and change colors. Kind of neat.
It's a nice place to walk, along the river. You can take cruises up the river as well.
The pedestrian mall is also a nice place to walk, though if you walk the whole thing you'll have to cross at least two vehicular streets.
There are also two malls, one partway down the pedestrian mall, one called the Euro Plaza or something and the other at the end of the street, left side, but I don't know the name. Each has more shopping, restaurants and movie theaters, though the movies are all in Chinese.
It's worth a stroll down this pedestrian street.
Museum of Russian Life
On a shelf at the Russian Cafe (separate review) is a little framed plaque mentioning the Museum of Russian Life. We asked where it was and were given a vague description of a street nearby. Sadly, we never found the museum, despite looking quite hard. No-one else had even heard of the place.
As Russians and Russian life from a substantial part of Harbin's history, this would seem to be a really interesting place to see.
So once again, the inability of organizations and tourism marketing authorities in China to do their job properly means less money for the city. It is a permanent source of frustration in China how difficult it is to see and find places, even those that are ON the beaten track. This madness must be costing China's economy millions of dollars a year.
Located in Daoli Distict, Zhongyang Street is a symbolic street of Harbin, which can be called “a collection of European style architecture”. It was built in 1898 originally and entitled "pedestrian street" in 1997 by the local government.
There are all kinds of shopping places,night clubs and restaurants alongside the street.
It is a paradise of shoppers and worth of visiting for those who wants to know the Europen style buildings.
Where to see ice and snow sculptures in Harbin
We were confused before we went to Harbin about where to see ice and snow sculptures. This marginally improved once we were there. Chinese tourism marketing and newspaper reporting is so vague that it is often impossible to work out what is on, where or when.
Ice sculptures can be found all over Harbin during winter, with many just sitting by the roadside.
The most spectacular ice sculptures are across on the north bank of the Songhuajiang at "Ice and Snow World", a commercial 'theme park'. For various reasons, we were unable to get there at all during our visit. Note that taxi drivers will simply refuse to take you there during the day. This is obviously mainly a night place, as the sculptures are lit up from inside.
In town, Zhaolin Park has some awesome sculptures, but we were particularly irritated at being charged full adult rate for our two children (who are both over 1.2m tall). However, we do believe it is worth it to see these enormous sculptures, including a huge aircraft-carrier, life-size seven-storey pagodas and a 1/4 size submarine. There are hundreds of sculptures in this park.
Out at the temple complex at the far northern end of Dong Dazhi Jie, the street outside the temple has a lot of particularly good religious and humorous sculptures, including one of three men sitting on a row of toilets.
The ice sculptures along Zhongyang Dajie are a bit tame in comparison to these others.
For snow sculptures, the main place is Sun Island Resort (Taiyang Dao) on the north bank of the Songhuajiang, not far from the Ice and Snow World Complex, but these are definitely best seen during the day. They are simply incredible, and once seen will never be forgotten. At Taiyangdao, it is not just the size and quality of the carving, but the artistic merit of the compositions. This is not just 5o foot high sculptures of Mickey Mouse or Mulan: the 200 foot long sculpture of King Neptune surrounded by nymphs, crashing waves and sea-animals was just astonishing.
Harbin ......The Smokey City....
A thriving metropolis in the north east corner of China.
Known to locals as the smokey city because of its use of coal burning generators.
Like all of China, it too has history dating way back, but this area is well known for it's World War II exploits. Harbin was in the heart of what was then called Manchuria. One of the more horrific tourist attractions is the Japanese Germ Warfare Experimental Base 731 Division.
It was set up around 1939, and the Japanese experimented on prisoners of war.