A brand new morning, a brand new experience. We hopped onto a cab outside our hotel after agreeing to a fare of CNY240 for a day trip. The Harbin of today is still very much influenced by its Russian past. Due to the strong decades’ presence of Soviet Russians, it is not uncommon to see glimpses of Russian style in architecture, education, art, food, clothing, language and more aspects of life.
Our first stop was to visit the Russian Village which was located near to Sun Island.
The river was literally frozen.
Russian Style Town or Artist Village in Harbin Sun Island by the north bank of the Songhua River, is a Russian architecturally-styled village with small detached houses within. During winter, this place seemed more like a ghost town albeit with curious tourists coming to explore the vincinity and experiencing Russian foods and products.
We were discouraged from entering the Russian Village by our driver as this attraction was quiet and nothing much exciting to explore. He did, however, drove us around the outskirts of the Russian Village to take a view from the outside.
Some sights at the entrance…
Food vendors selling sweet potatoes, sausages and Bing Tanghulu Candied Hawthorn Stick or 冰糖葫蘆.
Bicycle rental available.
Address: China, Heilongjiang, Harbin, Songbei, Pingyuan St, 平原街
It was a weekend and the traffic was quite bad in the morning. It took us one hour to reach the next destination which was appealing to Big and Small M. What’s in store here?
Visitors who want to visit Harbin 哈尔滨植物園 definitely have to come with reserved transport as after entering, you would need to drive up to 1km before reaching the spot with fun-filled activities.
This is the only restaurant here for us to catch a lunch.
Our order – a tad salty and not very appealing though it did fill our stomaches.
And we had fun after that! Building a snowman 🙂
During winter in Harbin, the temperature is usually below 20 degrees. One of the most popular activites is the winter swimming event which is a physical activity showing off the strong physique and iron of local Harbin people. Over here, the swimming pool was dug for winter swimming.
The performance takes place every hour. We were standing in the freezing cold awaiting for the show to start.
Would you dare to try this? Certainly not us!
Dog sledding but we did not try as we would need to pay extra (which we didn’t know after paying an exorbitant price for the tickets). We had no regrets not trying dog sleeding as the dogs did not look excited to run at all, so unlike of our experience in Finland where every husky were given a name, trained to perform a specific role in sleigh-ridding and much more excited to run.
Family-friendly rides that we get to enjoy here.
Alas, we wished we could stay longer to maximuse the ticket value but the temperature was really overwhelming today at -24°C. Our bodies were smarting from the cold. We had to cut short our fun and returned to the car.
Ji Le Temple 极乐寺
Who says visiting Harbin is all about ice and snow?
Ji Le Temple or Temple of Bliss is located at the end of Dongdazhi Street, Nangang District in Harbin. It is the biggest Buddhist building complex in the Heilongjiang province. The entrance gate, Hall of Heavenly King, Grand Hall, Sacred Hall, Sutra Depository, Bell Tower, Drum Tower and the Seven-storey Buddhist Pagoda are the main buildings.
The entire building of Temple of Bliss is magnificent, elegant and dignified, retains the style and features of temple architecture of China. Before reaching here, our driver brought us to his neighbourhood to buy a winter coat for Big M. It was a good buy as the price was almost half of what we need to pay at shopping malls. It was about 4pm when we reached here and the temple was already closed, unfortunately.
We thought it is a lovely temple that offers a peaceful break from the busyness of the city where one can soak in its tranquility and understand more about Chinese Buddhism. Big M wearing her new winter coat 🙂
Along the streets were lined with shops selling Buddhist wares.
Address: 9 Dongdazhi St, Nangang Qu, Haerbin Shi, Heilongjiang Sheng, China, 150001
Harbin Confucius Temple 哈尔滨文庙
Harbin Confucius Temple was built in 1926 and completed in 1929. The temple ground occupies an area of 25,000 square meters and its construction area is 5,674 square meters. In 1996, the temple was listed on the key historical sites under state protection.
The temple’s symmetrical structure consists of three courtyards dotted with old trees and rare flowers. Due to its likeness to the Imperial Palace, it has earned the moniker “the Forbidden City of Harbin”.
Address: 25 Wenmiao St, Nangang Qu, Haerbin Shi, Heilongjiang Sheng, China
Harbin Food at Its Best
Night falls and we were craving for food. The best time to try chinese hotpot is during winter and our driver brought us to this restaurant.
Great service – the staff opened the door for us when he saw us walking up the stairs.
Chinese hotpot 火锅 , also known as Chinese fondue, is one of the most popular meals in China. It consists of a simmering metal pot with broth at the center of a table, and all raw ingredients placed beside the metal pot, so people can add and cook whatever they like in the broth.
A hearty meal for us after a long day out!
The spirit of Northern Chinese cuisine lives on the wholesome goodness at Lao Beijing Roasted Duck 老北京明炉烤鸭. We took a stroll at the streets and caught the sight of a chef roasting the duck which inevitably drawn us into the store.
Specially-bred and fattened ducks are glazed and hung in a wood fire to roast until the browned skin is crisp and the meat succulent.
Noticed the QR code below? Everyone is using e-payment in China now. The presentation of the duck was just like any other chinese restaurant in which the chef carved the duck in front of us.
Heavenly goodness at its best.
The price of a whole duck including the wraps and sauces – SGD 12.
The Heart of Harbin
Not to be outdone by the likes of bigger stores such as Mykal Supermarket, the supermarkets in the heartland are possibly one of Harbin’s best-kept treasures. It was a pleasant experience browsing through the store products and discovering the local produces.
Most of the product prices were much cheaper compared to those in the shopping malls.
Salted promfret fish.
Mantou, often referred to as Chinese steamed bun, is a type of cloud-like steamed bread or bun popular in Northern China. The name mantou is said to have originated from a tale about Zhuge Liang.
Some sights during our walk.
Bing Tanghulu Candied Hawthorn Stick or 冰糖葫蘆. These two guys were shouting at the top of their voice to attract customers to their store. A nice try. We stopped and bought one to try out.
Teresa Teng Music Restaurant
We blogged about Teresa Teng during our trip to Taiwan 金寶山 Chin Pao San which you can read it here. Our Harbin trip brought us back to the memory lanes where Teresa Teng Music Restaurant allows fans to reminisce the evergreen hits of 邓丽君that bring you back to the 70’s and 80’s.
Dine, wine and enjoy live performance of her songs.
Harbin’s charm lies in the way it yields glimpses of a timeless China. Our experience thus far has been magical. Planning to visit China? Try Harbin 哈尔滨.
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