Harbin 哈尔滨 Travelogue – (Part 2): Jiuzhan Park 九站公园, Stalin Park 斯大林公园, Sun Island  (Tai Yang Dao) 太阳岛, Harbin Polar Land, Siberian Tiger Park 哈尔滨东北虎林园, Harbin Flood Control Memorial Tower 哈尔滨防洪纪念塔 and Zhongyang Dajie 中央大街

We were impressed on our first day in Harbin 哈尔滨 and felt that it is one of the ideal travel destinations for famililes with kids without taking long flights.  Come Day 2, we had the whole day to explore Harbin and we booked a personal driver from the hotel. It cost us CNY400 for the whole day transport which was considered reasonable.

The car’s interior was new and very clean.

Our driver vetted our itinerary and recommended which were the more worthy-to-visit attractions to explore. Some sights during our journey to the first attraction.

Jiuzhan Park 九站公园 | Stalin Park 斯大林公园

It was still early in the morning at 8am and what better way to start off than to visit the parks. Jiuzhan Park and Stalin Park are located next to each other so arriving here means hitting 2 locations at one go.

One thing we learnt about winter is that the temperature seems to be bearable when it is snowing but come “post-snow”, the cold can be very trying. Big & Small M could barely venture out for 5 mins and had to retreat to the car.

Stalin Park is located on the south bank of the Songhua River.  The park is featured by Russian style flower beds and sixteen groups of art sculptures and is lavishly vegetated with flowers and trees.  Both parks are quiet and what you find in the morning are locals gathering to chat or exercising.

The river bank of Songhua River is…

Completely frozen!

These are one of those places for sightseeing, mingling with locals and witnessing their way of life.

Address: Jiuzhan Park, South Bank of the Songhua River, Daoli District, Harbin 150000, China | Stalin Park, South Bank of the Songhua River, Daoli District, Harbin, China

Snow Skiing

Visitors are attracted to Harbin for winter skiing every year, especially during Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. There are dozens of skiing resorts in and around Harbin and it’s hard to compare which is better. Our take is to do skiing without much travelling. Those who booked through tour groups would usually visit Yabuli Ski Resort which is about 4 hours drive from the city.  Yabuli is a large resort but be mindful that there will be many visitors due to its popularity and after skiing there might not have much interesting activities for you to do over there.

This should be the nearest skiing centre from Harbin City which is within 1 hour drive.

Skiing doesn’t come cheap either. It cost us CNY160 per pax to ski and another CNY160 to engage a personal trainer. We preferred not to pay for personal trainers but they were sticking to us like bees and persuading us to engage their services while warning us of the dangers of skiing for the first-timers.

Well, we did engage them eventually and realised that it was better off to do so. The slope was slippery and we got to learn basic skiing skills.

For a start, this skiing centre has 2 skiing slopes. One of them was constructed with scaffolding (left side of the picture) which looked really scary as we were wondered if it was really stable. Good that we were not skiing on that though.

And what a fun we had though we were exhausted at the end! We felt the kids pick up skiing really fast and did not fall down so often.

Our personal trainers were patient and took good care of us. What we observed was that they stick closely to the time. When the hour was up, they would go off unless we were willing to pay them extra which we didn’t.

Big & Small M having fun at this corner. Did we read Singapore as role model?

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This was our first skiing experience – expensive, exhausting and enriching. We learnt from a taxi driver that it is never cheap to do skiing but for the locals, they could actually ski at CNY80 which he would not want to reveal the location. Before leaving the ski centre, one of the staff tried to us photos taken during skiing – CNY20 for 1 photo. We managed to bargain to buy all the photos for a total of CNY50.

On our way out, we could see construction for Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. Hard work!

Lunch

Time for lunch! Our driver brought us to this restaurant.

The restaurant owner tried to convince us to try the fish but the price were exorbitant. Another customer also refused to order their fishes.

What we like was the ambience of this restaurant which was reminisced of mongolia. The dining corner was so village-like and cosy.

The dishes were authentic and really delicious. The portion was huge as well and we could not finish them although our driver was dining together with us.

We are beginning to like China dishes after this.

Sun Island  (Tai Yang Dao) 太阳岛

Sun Island Scenic Area is located by northern shore of Songhua River in downtown Harbin. Sun Island Park covers an area of 15 square kilometers and is featured by cultural attractions and natural landscapes. Our next stop was supposed to be Polarland but since Sun Island is just next to it we decided to stop over here to take pictures and explore the vicinity.

A scenic and popular spot to take pictures.

From December to next February, Sun Island Scenic Area is the main venue of the International Snow Sculpture Art Expo. During this time, varieties of ice and snow sculpture statues will be presented for visitors to view.

Address: No.3 Jingbei Road, Pingfang District, Harbin 150000, China.

Harbin Polar Land

Just next to Sun Island in Harbin city, the Harbin Pole Aquarium (also called Harbin Polar land) is a strongly recommended attraction to visit especially for the kids.

It is the first polar land themed park combining animal shows, polar land sights and an interactive experience into one. Upon entering, the first part we had was milk-feeding the kois.

The kois were really hungry and ferocious, nibbling at the bottle tit the moment they got hold of it.

Feeding the sea lions.

“South Pole Penguin’s Island” has swimming and diving penguins, as well as Manpo, the first South Pole penguin born in Harbin.

In Harbin Polarland, we also get to see animals from the North Pole such as arctic wolves, arctic foxes and polar bears.

It has an unique polar beluga subaqueous show which was the highlight of this attraction — The Heart Of Ocean!

Beluga show can be seen both above and below the surface.  The biggest starts of Harbin Polarland are Mira and Nicola, beluga whales who perform a romantic “Heart of the Ocean” routine.

Apart from the beluga show, there is also a walrus and sea lion show.

Address: 3 Taiyang Ave, Songbei Qu, Haerbin Shi, Heilongjiang Sheng, China, 150028

Entrance Fee: CNY 150 (including white whales and sea lions performances);
CNY 75 for children between 3.9 and 4.6 feet (1.2 to 1.4 meters);
Free for children below 3.9 feet (1.2 meters).

Siberian Tiger Park 哈尔滨东北虎林园

Next, we travelled up to north bank of the Songhua River to the northwest of Harbin to visit the Siberian Tiger Park. The park occupies an area of 1,440,000 square meters (355.8 acres). It is the largest natural park for wild Siberian tigers in the world at present.

We were looking forward to visit Siberian Tiger Park as this is the only place in the world one can get to see so many tigers roaming freely in the park. There are more than 500 pure-bred Siberian tigers at the park in which about 100 of them visible to visitors. What’s more tigers are already facing extinction which turns out to be an educational trip for us.

The park tour comes in different timing. Visitors will be led to this big bus fenced with wire mesh. The entire tour takes about half an hour in which there is a tour guide inside the bus explaining to us about tigers.

Tiger spotting along the way…

We were wondering why the tigers were so active inspite of the cold weather and realised that they were actually only half-fed at all times so that they would maintain their predator-instinct and keep looking out for food. This was contrary of other zoos we visited where the tigers are fed regularly and doesn’t display much activeness and energy.

Apart from tiger, the park is also home to white tigers, Bengal tigers, lions, pumas, and lynx. No idea what this creature looks like – lion?

Tigers are only interested to feed on live animals. This was the part of the tour where adults had to pay an extra CNY25 per pax to watch live feeding of chicken.

After the bus tour, we disembarked onto elevated walk way to view the tigers.  Attendants will be there to ask visitors to feed the tigers for a small fee. A live chicken is attached to a fishing pole which you can dangle into the cage and watch the tigers rapidly kill and eat it.

It was snowing again when we finished touring the park.

Address: 88 Songbei Road, Songbei district, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China | 黑龙江省哈尔滨市松北区松北街88号

Harbin Flood Control Memorial Tower 哈尔滨防洪纪念塔

It was about 5pm and the sky was already dark. The traffic was quite bad at this peak hour.

Harbin Flood Control Memorial Tower is located at the other end of Zhongyang Dajie 中央大街 in which this landmark commemorates heroes who helped the city fight off floods of the Songhua River in 1957.  The army built the tower and huge embankments to protect the city from future destruction, and the memorial commemorates the heroic spirit of those who defended the city. The 22.5 m (47 ft) tower has markings to delineate the highest water levels from floods in both 1932 and 1957. Big & Small M were sleeping so we just captured the moments before leaving.

Address: Zhongyang Main Street, Daoli District, Harbin 150000, China

On our way back to hotel, we stopped by outside a convenience store to buy mineral water. An interesting sight of 2 children playing in the snow.

Finally back to the hotel at 6pm. Look at the snow!

We had light dinner in the hotel’s cantonese restaurant.

Lu Rou Fan (Braised Pork Rice) 滷肉飯.

This is Harbin 哈尔滨

We learnt from the forecast that it might not be snowing for the next few days so to make the full use of the night, we had fun in the snow and capturing Harbin local scenes at its best. The roads were slippery and it was not uncommon to see even the locals falling down while crossing the roads.

The building is dilapidated but it brings out so much originality and down-to-earth feel.

A simple eatery that doesn’t look fanciful on the outside but who knows, it may whip up delectable meals when you least expected.

Such restaurants could be found from the side-lanes of Zhongyang Dajie 中央大街.

A random hotel.

A cool sight of a child being towed with a plastic toboggan-style sled.

Soaking under snowy conditions.

Ending the day with a late-night supper – xiao long bao and dumpling soup.

So fairy-tale like!

Yes, this is Harbin 哈尔滨.

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Harbin 哈尔滨 Travelogue – (Part 1): Holiday Inn Harbin City Centre, Zhongyang Dajie 中央大街, Euro Plaza, Mykal Mall and Saint Sophia Cathedral 圣索菲亚教堂

This might be a late coming trip to China and for so long we did not have a strong motivation to visit and only did so when we were planning to visit a country to experience winter at its extreme coldness. Needless to say, this time our travel map pointed to Harbin 哈尔滨, China a less travelled place.

Having experienced the coldness of Iceland and Finland last year, we were really looking forward to this trip and after 7 hours of direct flight by Scoot Airlines, we knew we were approaching Harbin as the beautiful landscape coated in white greeted us.

What an unexpected surprise! Everyone did not expect to disembark in such a manner and were rushing to the transit as cold temperature of -17°C swept over us. Up in the rural areas, the temperature were as low as (-45°C)!

The first sight of mainland China greeted us at Harbin Taiping International Airport. Before arriving, we prepared our itinerary with chinese characters included in case we needed to ask for directions. And yes, we tried our best to speak like locals as well. A little compliment when a local commented that we should be from Shenzhen or Guangzhou from the way we talked.

The usual taxi fare from airport cost around CNY150. You can either request the driver to 打表 (turn on the meter fare) which is a cheaper option or quote a flat rate. We requested to 打表 but the driver claimed the meter was spoiled and quoted us CNY240 to our hotel!

In China, traffic jam is called 堵车 ( duche / dŭchē ). 

The journey from the airport to our hotel took about 40 mins. Admiring the interesting sights along the way.

Holiday Inn Harbin City Centre

Most of the visitors in Harbin were on group tours and we were one of the few who travelled by ourselves. Well, we told the taxi driver we were only paying him CNY200 instead of CNY240 and he took it and said 没事 (no problem) which we learnt the locals also used these words often in their conversation.

We booked Holiday Inn Harbin City Centre during our stay as we done our research that it is located in the center of Harbin and is directly in front of Zhongyang dajie 中央大街 (Central Main Street), where it has galore of restaurants, cafes, bakery and shoppings.

Big & Small M were glad to escape from the cold.

A glimse of our room which is a bit crampy but we guessed most of the time we would be outdoors so we were fine with it.

Misty view from our room. We took a breather to unload our luggages before hitting the streets!

AddressChina, Heilongjiang, Harbin, Daoli, 经纬街90号 邮政编码: 150010

Zhongyang dajie 中央大街 (Central Main Street)

Known as the ‘Eastern Moscow’, Harbin has  been regarded as a unique and exotic city. The most exotic place in Harbin is the Central Street, which is the longest and largest Pedestrian Street in Asia and is akin to the Orchard Road of Singapore. It was first built in 1898 named “China’s Big Street” and was renamed “Central Street” in 1925.

The Central Street spans over 1.2km and it is less than 100m from Holiday Inn Harbin City Centre.

One advantage of visiting Zhongyang Dajie 中央大街 is that it is a long and straight stretch of road. It won’t be easy to get lost here.

Time for lunch. We were recommended by the locals that this chinese restaurant is a must-try as the dishes are prepared and smoked over woks.

Choosing a live fish.

We ordered 2 dishes – steamed fish and beef stew mixed with tofu, carrot, potates and cabbages.

Before savouring the dishes, we had to wait 20 mins for them to be fully cooked. A timer was put in front of us.

Long awaited hot piping Harbin delicacies 🙂

The dishes were really nice especially the fish although the beef tasted a tad saltish. Big M wanted to try this restaurant again before we returned home.

It started to snow when we stepped out of the restaurant. What a beautiful sight as if we are in a fairy land 🙂

We spent the rest of the day exploring Zhongyang Dajie 中央大街. This place is kind of touristy and we do not recommend shopping except for trying the local delicacies if you are feeling peckish. Big & M at this store selling bingtanghulu which is a traditional Chinese snack of candied fruit originated from northern China.

One of our favourite bakery, Bomele Cafe in Harbin.

It has many beautiful selections of pastries and cakes which we find that Singapore pales in comparison to Harbin in our humble opinions. As we couldn’t take many pictures inside the bakery, you have to be here to see the amazing designs of breads and cakes. What a high standard Harbin set!

The staircase leads us to the 2nd level where there is a cafe.

Small M wanted to explore the balcony but the ground was too slippery due to the falling snow.

Address: 45 Zhongyang St, ZhongYang DaJie, Daoli Qu, Haerbin Shi, Heilongjiang Sheng, China, 150010

After a brief walk, another bakery and cafe caught our attention.

Look at the interior deco of this cafe. So cute!

The streets were slippery and they had a ball of time playing. Daylight is limited during winter and the sky was beginning to get dark.

We were just walking on the streets and getting soaked in the atmosphere.

 Jinan International Shopping Plaza | Euro Plaza

This is Jinan international Shopping Plaza or Euro Plaza which sells international brands. A good place for us to have a rest after being out in the cold.

Some picturesque spots within Euro Plaza.

Can’t resist but to try out the beef noodles to share among ourselves (CNY15).

Harbin may be a place less-travelled but it has opened our eyes to the rest of China in terms of their progress and development. It is a far-cry to the laid-back impression that people have.

E-payment has already become a norm here and almost everyone is using it. We feel that Singapore is lagging so much behind..

The food in the mall are freshly prepared and cooked in front of you.

Cute selection of beverages.

We thought some of the packaging looks cute and bought them home as water bottles.

Katong Laksa in Harbin!

Address: ZhongYangDaJie 69Hao JinAn GuoJi GouWuGuangChang Jin ZhongYang ShangChengHarbin, China

When we left Euro Plaza and stepped onto the streets, the place was filled with snow.

A cheap or rather free form of entertainment for Big & Small M – playing with the snow at (-24°C).

Street vendors out in the cold selling winter items.

MYKAL Mall

Mykal Mall sells branded items and has an upscale supermarket. The products are more expensive. We did not find any interesting eateries inside.

Address: ShangZhi DaJie 75Hao ShiTou Dao JieKouHarbin, China

Saint Sophia Cathedral 圣索菲亚教堂

The beautiful St. Sophia Cathedral in Harbin is the largest Eastern Orthodox Church in the Far East. It is 53.3 meters (175 feet) high and occupies an area of 721 square meters (0.18 acres). In November, 1996, it was listed as one of the Key Cultural Relics under State Protection. It is about 2km from our hotel.

Designed by a Russian architect, the main central building has a standard large dome, just look like other featured buildings in Russia, towering & spacious.

Many visitors were out here taking pictures and enjoying the snow.

Address: 88 Toulong St, Daoli Qu, Haerbin Shi, Heilongjiang Sheng, China, 150010

We had a long flight and thought we pretty covered much of our itinerary for the day. As we walked back to our hotel, we passed by Zhongyang Dajie 中央大街 and it was still bustling with activities and shoppers late at night. The Chinese were really brave as many of them were eating ice cream even though we were out in the extreme cold. One good thing was that they do not have to “rush” themselves to finish the ice cream as it is not going to melt!

Piping hot beef skewers.

Harbin sausage.

Grilled cuttlefish.

We tried the fried squid and chicken cutlet. They tasted yummy!

So much delicacies to try but our stomach were full. One last item we tried was the meat balls before we returned to the hotel and rest.

Stay tune on our upcoming blog posts on Harbin 哈尔滨.

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All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

 

 

Diamond Kitchen 钻石小厨: Promotion $30 for 2 Crabs until 31 Dec 17

We had a good find to have a taste of crab at affordable prices located at Laguna Park Condominium. Diamond Kitchen is a Chinese seafood restaurant providing tasty live seafood, coupled with a mouthwatering array of Chinese cuisine – generally Cantonese, but with a tinge of Teochew and other cooking styles.

It was Big M’s birthday and we decided to try out this restaurant to celebrate the occasion.

Some dishes from their menu. Shark fin either 1 pax ($25) or 4 pax ($45) serving.

Pig trotter beehoon.

Drunken prawn ($36)which was a tad expensive and we felt it’s better to order their crabs instead.

Mashed Yam with Gingko Nuts and Pumpkin (Or Ni).

$30 for 2 crabs or $52/kg XXL crab. 

This is the portion of 2 chilli crabs @ $30.

2 black peppered crabs @ $30.

If you are crab-lover, this is a good choice for family and friends gathering. Diamond Kitchen is now running a promotion until 31 Dec 2017.

Marine Parade Branch

5000F Marine Parade Road

Laguna Park Condominium, #01-22/23
Singapore 449289

Opening Hours: 11:00AM – 2:30PM, 5:30PM – 10:30PM

Tel: 6448 0629
Fax: 6445 0029

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All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Choosing Our Favourite Flavours from Emicakes this Christmas {Log Cakes Giveaway!}

Christmas is just around the corner and while everyone has their favourite ways of celebrating the occasion, what we can’t do without is to treat ourselves to the signature flavours of Christmas cakes from Emicakes.

Celebrating its 25th year of presence in Singapore, Emicakes has several flavours of Christmas cakes to choose from with inviting layers of cream that aren’t too cloying. For the health conscious, Emicakes now offers “eggless” alternatives to almost all regular cakes. Without sacrificing the quality and premium taste of the cakes, these guilt-free eggless cakes are up to 85% lower in cholesterol compared to regular cakes, which makes these treats the “healthier choice.” The Christmas offerings are not only beautiful that you would fall in love with them at first sight, but also tastefully crafted.

Mini Yam Logcake (Real yam blended with cream cheese swirled into soft and fluffy vanilla chiffon).

Winter Frost (Premium D24) – 15% off until 20 December 2017 only.

Tiramisu Wonderland (Emicakes’ popular logcake with vanilla chiffon soaked in coffee with smooth cream cheese)

Need a sweet treat to quell your rumbling tummy? Delight yourself with this 20-cm Choco Truffle Cake that is light, moist and appealing 🙂

Customised your round cake with these designs here – Floral Blush, Floral Swirls, Lavender Dream, Pastel Flourish, Pink Glow, Rosette Garland, Rosey Delight, Rosey Posey, Tiffany Blooms and more!

Hey, we had a hard time debating which cake to partake, satisfying and not too sinful. When planning your Christmas celebration, do try out Emicakes!

GIVEAWAY!

Special thanks to Emicakes, they are giving 2 winners with a small log cake each of either Truffle SparklePure AddictionTiramisu Wonderland or D24 Cheer.

All you need to do is:

  1. Follow the Facebook at Emicakes & Katong Kids Inc
  2. Share this blog post of the giveaway on your Facebook and set it to public.

Terms & Conditions:
1. The winner will walk away with a mini log cake of either Truffle Sparkle, Pure Addiction,  Tiramisu Wonderland or D24 Cheer flavor.

2. The winner must be agreeable to provide his/her contact details to Katong Kids Inc.
3. Judges’ decision is final. Closing date: 13 Dec 2017.