China, Heilongjiang Province, Harbin, 11-12 February 2012.
Our second day in Harbin, we started the day early. The plan was Central Street, Siberian Tiger Safari and Space museum before we hit the airport.
A common sight in Harbin – breakfast kiosk. The sign says 放心早餐车，translated as ‘do not worry’ breakfast kiosk. Though we were hungry, and the food looked tempting, we reserved our groaning tummies for something more interesting.
The Central street was within walking distance from our hotel. The sun was warm that morning. The pictures below were all taken along Central Street.
A kiosk selling the traditional Chinese sweet, 冰糖葫芦, made of fruit bits coated with thick caramelised sugar. I grew up watching Chinese drama and they always talked about this sweet. However, on closer look then, I thought it was too sweet for me.
We wanted to have brunch at this famous Russian restaurant (华梅西) and the waiting time was one hour. While waiting, I queued next door for the famous local bread Da-Lie-Ba(大列巴), a term in local dialect derived from the Russian word khleb for “bread”. It was sold out even before I reached the counter. What a disappointment.
Finally, after one hour of waiting, we had a nice table in the Russian restaurant.
Food was just so-so. It was not fantastic. Definitely over-rated. The meal was about SGD40 per person. We left the restaurant feeling ‘meh’ but at least we tried the most popular Russian restaurant in Harbin.
Always fascinated by these colourful and cute looking sweets.
After brunch, we made our way to Siberian Tiger Safari. That taxi trip cost us RMB100 which was a total rip off but every other taxi driver seemed to be charging the same amount. It was a long drive. Scottie had fun talking in his broken Mandarin to the taxi driver. He told him he is a Chinese. We thought he was practising some pickup lines.
Finally at the Siberian Tiger Safari. The entrance fees was about RMB90 (SGD18). We were then asked to wait for a bus to drive us in.
There was an option to feed the tigers with chicken, duck, beef, etc. Just pay for it.
The bus stopped for us to have a closer look at the tigers. Of course, no one was allowed to open the windows or get off the bus. I didn’t remember the driver giving such instructions, he happily assumed no one would perform such stupid act. We went through various compartments to see different species of tigers though they all looked the same to me. After about 30 minutes in the bus, we were ‘released’ into a fenced up area to see more tigers, mainly lazy ones.
This place reminded me of the Chinese nursery song, Three Tigers (三只老虎). So we definitely have to strike a pose of the three tigers.
Then we realised that it was almost 4pm. We need to rush to the next destination – the Space Museum. Then we were told the Space Museum was closed by this time. Another bummer!
Sun sets really fast. A private car offered to take us back to Central Street for RMB100. We didn’t have a choice as there was hardly any taxi around.
I had a really good time in Harbin. My travel buddies made the trip really fun and time just passed so quickly.
Checking out of the hotel. The bellboys in this hotel were awesome. They were super helpful, super gracious, super efficient.
We went back to Beijing for another hectic work week before heading back to Singapore. My boots were peeling badly from the extreme cold in Harbin, which gave me more reasons to shop for new shoes in Beijing. Most important of all, we had a really great time and another two good friends to add on to my list of travel buddies.
Check out my other posts on the Harbin Ice and Snow World.