Well, where do I begin.....I'm having a fantastic time and seeing places I didn't even know existed! My trip has been split into parts due to airlines not flying on certain days, so i had a nice two days back in Beijing to relax before setting off to the unknown again!Ok, so let's begin....
I'm doing a programme on Russians in China, so I have been sent to 'dong bei' or the north east for those who are Chinese illiterate! On the border of China and Russia you will find small cities geared around Russians coming and buying cheap Chinese products! I'm talking about walking into a shop, and coming out with things by the truckload, mainly clothes and household items! We on the other hand went into shops and tried to buy as many Russian things as possible! Russian dolls, chocolate, alcohol and any other bits and bobs that we'd never seen before! It didn't at times even feel like we had gone there to work! But of course...we had!
I flew on June 7th from Beijing to Harbin (the ice city in the north-gets to below 45 degrees every winter!) It only took an hour and a half so it was painless! And from there we took another plane to a small city on the border of Russia called Hei he. I notice that this has not been recorded yet in VT, so Im going to try and make it as good as possible! I will upload my photos when I get back to Beijing.
Anyway, to continue....this city (Hei he) is right on the Hei long jiang River which separates Russia from China. It was amazing to just think that across the water was a completely different civilization! And if you looked really carefully, you could see Russian people on their side of the shore swimming and walking around, along with cars driving past! On this side (the Chinese side), there were people fishing and taking boat trips in Chinese and Russian waters! So now, I can officially put Russia on my VT map! The city was fairly dull, apart from the Russian International Trade Centre which housed many Russian goods which I had a field day buying! One thing that was funny, but now just irritating is everyone mistaking me for being Russian and talking so fast to me in a language I can't make head nor tail out of! I only told the people I was interested in buying from that I wasn't Russian and that they had to speak to me in Chinese, but for the other ones,I just let them chatter away to me in Ruskie! I live right next door to the Russian Embassy in Beijing, so have seen Russian people before, but never en masse like in those last few days. It was fairly intimidating! The guys are so big...well actually, so were the women!
We were following a Russian tour group around for a couple of days which was quite fun, and they were all very happy to be interviewed! It was quite funny because they didn't have a clue as to what I was asking them (I was speaking Chinese) and I didn't have a clue as to what they were answering (they were speaking Russian!) Luckily for us both, we had a lovely 26 year old Russian girl to help us out! In fact I've had a lot of fun doing this programme...! Whilst we were with this group, we were invited to attend an evening of entertainment put on by a Chinese group with singing and dancing from both sides.The Russian ladies absolutely LOVED dancing, from ball room dancing to the traditional Russain dance....it was a lot of fun to watch!