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Sunday, 24 April 2016

My Winter Vacation Part 9 - Central Street (中央大街) and Harbin Ice Festival

Part 1 click HERE
Part 2 click HERE
Part 3 click HERE
Part 4 click HERE
Part 5 click HERE
Part 6 click  HERE
Part 7 click HERE
Part 8 click HERE


Destination:  HeiLongJiang (黑龙江), China

Duration: 23 - 30 Dec 2015 (8 days)

Mode of travel: Package with Chan Brothers Travel

Flight: Air China  (via Beijing)

Damage: S$1,878/pax, Tour Guide Tip: RMB200  Local Guide Tip: S$16, other compulsory/optional tours: RMB1,420 (slit throat + heart bleed)

Currency: RMB (we rough divide by 4.5 to convert to S$)

Time Difference:  Same as Singapore

Weather: -22 to -30°C



Now I know Volga Manor is rather near the city, the ride was only about half an hour.

We did a usual tourist activity, souvenir shopping.  Didn't buy any Russian dolls, only some Russian chocolates.
The longer we stayed, the happier the tour guides.  After 1 hour, Peter and I had to catch our fellow tour mates back to the bus, cos the more we idle, the lesser time we left for sight seeing...

Ridding on another few minutes, we had same boring lunch.
  Love the braised lion heads (minced pork balls) though.

After lunch, just another corner, we reached what they called Guandong Ancient Lane.  They should called it Replica Ancient Mall instead.
This was included as a compulsory tour which we had to pay extra for and it's totally not worth it.  It's quite a nice place but still doesn't justify to pay to get into a shopping mall.  This place is in the middle of the city, smooth traffic, neither did we see any ticket booth selling entrance tix.  Don't understand where the incur of extra cost came from.

The mall was small and quiet, hardly see any other shoppers except 自己人 (our own people).

It was relaxing and we thawed comfortably.

Following are some pics of the mall which I any how snapped..

We saw lots of finger food...

We walked in to buy some tofu.

We ordered some pan-fried tofu to take away.

Took some pics of the restaurant.  It's amusing to see big soup pots on fire stoves at the corner of the dinning area.  OPEN CONCEPT lolxx...

Our pipping hot soft tofu in unknown sour and spicy sauces, heehee....

Looked colorful and interesting but had no idea what tibit these are.

From what I could identify, it's boiled pear with lemon, red dates, goji berries and lou han guo.

Bought a cup and it's freaking nice!!  But only managed to drink half and the other half was spilled in the bus

Awesome tea break, sobs over spilled milk pear drink, last and only pic of it in full T__T

I spend the rest of the journey cleaning up the spilled drink and scolding my hubby at the same (he was the one who knocked over the drink offering it to the bus wth...), while the whole bus was laughing like hell.  I was fuming mad but they said our squabbling in cantonese was hilarious omg......

Yummy beef pie was not bad as a console.

Our small boy tour mate managed to get this blown candy FOC with his cuteness.

With commotions and laughs, we reached St. Sophia Cathedral 聖索菲亞教堂 .
(No. 88 Toulong Street, Daoli District, Harbin 15000, China)

This Byzantine style church was built in 1907.  With history and beauty, it became a landmark in Harbin.

It's now a Museum, showcasing multi-cultural developments of Harbin which we did not enter to view while outside the church was a playground and home of numerous fat pigeons.

Burnt marks at the crown where the bell could be seen, there was fire but the building was intact as told by the tour guide.  However I couldn't find any further information online about the fire.

Roads around the church was jammed with cars, it's freezing -25 degrees but people were walking and shopping like normal.

After a brief stay, we got up the bus, made a turn and dropped off along Song Hua River 松花江。

In China, everything is gigantic.  The river itself is 1434km in length (Singapore is only 50km in length, lolxx..)

Ice from Song Hua River is crystal clear.

For this reason, Harbin International Ice Sculpture Festival transports ice blocks from this river to it's venue for all it's ice sculptures, of course not for free.
Oh yes, caution, do not touch the ice with bare hands, it's not funny if skin is stuck onto it.

Boat Jetty may be in hibernation but the frozen river was still busy....

I just stood from the stairs above to watch, didn't engage in any activities.

 The iced river looked really slippery to step on... Kinda lost my guts as I get older, couldn't afford any falls that may break my old bones >.< 

As you can see, the river plays an important contribution to the economy of Harbin, more than just providing fishes.

From here we walked into Central Street 中央大街.
If not for the flight delay, we could had spend a day here shopping, we had only less than 2 hours, damn sad.

Besides countless shops and restaurants, along the street, there were snow and ice sculptures.

Very nice and clean place with european style buildings, doesn't even feels like China.

 I was half running most of the time, looking for the famous vanilla milk popsicle 馬達爾冰棍.  I did my homework at found that it's at unit no. 89.
 It's a pity that we couldn't slow down to enjoy fully.

Along the way, we saw people loitering around offering tours to Snow Village and Yabuli by shouting out on the streets to passer by.  We really don't know how trust worthy these people are....

Found it!  But not too sure if it's the authentic one.

Nevertheless, it just taste like milk, frozen milk.  Not bad for me since I love milk, it's something that I'll not be able to eat again once return to Singapore.  I slowly suck and lick it till we went back to the bus, it never melt lolxx...

Opposite, a crowd at a shop caught our attention.

It's a bakery that doesn't look like one.

We bought 2 loafs, both turned stoned hard by the time we returned to our bus lolxxx...

We gave one to the driver, another one we tugged it back to Singapore.  I kept it in the freezer, steamed it when wanted to eat.  
The texture was totally different from our bread, it's like half steam bun and half cake kind of texture.  Not sure if the freezer and steaming changed it's original taste and texture, so not fair to comment about the taste.

I had also read online that things are expensive in Central Street, but well, I gotten this 19" Baymax plush at RMB69 only.

Reluctantly we left Central Street.  Had tried to make it to Harbin Ice Festival before dark, but still too late.  It turned dark really too early...
Click HERE for prices of tickets.

Inside were buildings made of ice as tall as 10 storey, it's amazing and spectacular!  I am sure glad to made it here at least once in a life time!
There were numerous ice slides as short as the ones like kiddy playgrounds and very long ones that needed to climb stairs to get up, then screamed all the way down within 10 seconds.  I probably had used up all my energy at the Central Street, I was so exhausted that I couldn't be bothered with slides already.

I did the most energy saving thing by paying RMB25 to hug a snow fox for photograph.

Among all, this snow Buddha was most unforgettable, it's about 5 storey tall, very intricate details which this photo doesn't justify.
  It took my breath away and I almost died in awe.

Photos didn't turn out too well as I don't know how to adjust the camera, but still there are a lot to share, so I did a slide show:

Since I am already snail slow, it doesn't matter to be slower than snail (blames Descendants of the Sun which took away quite a bit of my time, heehee...), I decided to break this day up into another post for our stay at Shangri-la Hotel and the igloo steamboat we had.

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