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Jilin - Harbin

Walmart, a snowy park, bullet train, Russian chocolate and a burger

overcast -12 °C
View Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival - Harbin 2014 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Today's first excursion was to Walmart – partly to see what this large department store looks like in China, and partly to satisfy Alan's desire for shopping. I stayed in bed as I was feeling still pretty rough this morning and shopping is not one of my favourite past times.



Next on the agenda was lunch, which again I didn't partake in as this morning I seemed to have gathered yet another ailment – an upset tummy. Best to give food a miss for a while.

Spicy pork - it looked delicious (and I was told it was) but not a good idea with an upset tummy.

North Mountain Park
Also known as Beishan Park (and bizarrely situated in the west of Jilin), the park cover an area of 10,000m² and plays an important role in the history of Jilin. Several ancient temples can be found here and some can be dated back to the Manchurian Warlord Chang Ji-Lin Ren. There is also a bridge which is directly associated with Emperor Kangxi and a tablet which has an inscribed poetry about the Songhua River. The park is a fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. “Kiosks, bridges, corridors and water garden are sprinkled among the verdant forests and serene mountains “ (quoting the tourism website), but of course being winter time, everything is covered in snow.


Three small linked lakes run along the foot of the main mountain (Taoyuan Mountain in the west of the park), and in the north west corner of the park is a Mausoleum for Martyrs who died during the early Communist years, and the memorial hall in here has epigraphs by Chairman Mao and other high profile cadres. The Wobo Bridge divides the lake into the east and west part.


Again I stayed in the car, while David and Alan went off to explore with Vera. David was in two minds whether he wanted to go too as he is also feeling rather rough today. We both had a very sleepless night last night with a cough. So when Vera started to head up the mountain, David came back and joined me in the sick bay, watching a municipal worker painstakingly clearing the snow from the car park. The weather has been very much warmer here than in Harbin and the roads are mostly filthy slush now.

Bullet train to Harbin
Today was really mostly a 'filler' day, and once Alan had conquered another Chinese mountain and returned safely without being attacked by any dragons, we set off for the railway station. We had quite a long wait for our train but Alan found some shops and coffee, so he was happy.

The train journey went quickly for me as I slept most of the way. This time I did the sensible thing and dressed for the +22 °C inside by having layers to remove, and it made for a much more comfortable journey.

Sally and Mr Safe greeted us in Harbin and whisked us (as far as the ever-present traffic jams would allow) back to the same hotel. I was anticipating a reunion with a giant orange ball, and was pleasantly surprised when we got to the room. Is this really the same hotel?

The room was of a totally different class: very much larger, nicer furnished and decorated, many more amenities, hanging space and a hair drier amongst other things. The bathroom was separated from the main bedroom area by a double glass wall with fake bamboo between. Very pretty but it did concern me a little in terms of privacy until I discovered there was a curtain you could pull across. As the beds here are very much softer than those in Jilin, I was looking forward to a good night's sleep in my new-found luxury.


David and Alan popped out quickly to get some more of the delicious Russian chocolate we'd bought before and by the time they got back it was really a bit too late to go out for a meal – almost everything closes at 21:00 here. So I hate to admit that we just popped across the road to Burger King for a Whopper. Last time I ate at a BK was in Miami Airport in February 2011 (are you reading this Homer?). It was very tasty, albeit extremely messy, but neither David or I could finish ours – probably not helped by the girl on the next table being sick all over the floor.

We retreated to the hotel to finish the packing and our last night in China.

Posted by Grete Howard 02:53 Archived in China

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