Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province bordering Russia. When most people think of this city, the beautiful and surreal carvings and creations of the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival come to mind. While this festival is Harbin’s biggest tourist pull, attracting around 18 million visitors last year, there is so much more to the city than many realize!
The Magic of Bad Chinese Taxidermy
No matter the size of a Chinese city, if it has a museum, chances are high that one is sure to find some funky-looking dead animals there!
Harbin’s Horrible Siberian Tiger Park 黑龙江阿穆尔虎园
Having been to the Beijing zoo and seen the terrible housing conditions the animals suffered there, I was a bit worried coming here. In all honesty, we probably would not have if it wasn’t included in our Ice World tour. After visiting the facility, we can firmly recommend not going for reasons I detail below.…
Harbin 哈尔滨: The Provincial Museum, Monuments, and Other Attractions
Hongbo Square 红博广场 and the WWII Russian Victory Monument Hongbo Square used to be the site of the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas which was destroyed by the Red Guards the Cultural Revolution. Today, there’s a large roundabout above ground with a pretty decorative sculpture in the middle. Some buildings in the area, like the KFC…
China’s Auschwitz: A look at the WWII Japanese Germ and Warfare Base 侵华日军第731部队遗址
Harbin housed some gruesome secrets during the Japanese Occupation (1931-1945), when the area was known as the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army covertly developed and tested lethal biological and chemical warfare at this site under the guise of epidemic prevention and water purification works. What took place on…
Harbin 哈尔滨: What to Expect at the Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Beautiful powdery snow cascaded down from a container attached to a crane high above the giant white structure. My husband, Mark, and I watched from inside a cafe, cozy and warm with cups of steaming hot cocoa, as workers set about firmly packing the snow down into artful shapes. We were on Sun Island, one…
Harbin 哈尔滨 Part 1: A Merry Christmas in the “Moscow of the Orient”
My husband’s visits are always a special time of year. Having done the whole long-distance thing on and off for almost a decade since we’ve known each other (that’s about a third of our lives!), this is when both of us really get to spend quality time together. We also love to travel, and this…
Hi, I’m Steph. While working full-time as a literature and drama history teacher in China, I started this blog to share about my travel experiences and observations. Now, when I’m not spending time with my wonderful husband, I continue to write about my love for travel, food, teaching, and identity politics. Read more
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