After a crazy night of rice wine, singing and ‘bottoms up’, we all managed to drag ourselves out of bed to meet at the foyer for an exciting weekend away at the city, Harbin. We all grouped off into different cars and set off to the train station, all very excited to experience the bullet train. As we approached we were all amazed at the size of the station and after the help from lovely Yang organising everything, we got through the security and onto the train without any hassle. The short 50-minute train ride was lovely and smooth but after listening to the sound of phlegm and spit from a few other passengers we were all glad to arrive at the beautiful Harbin city.
The weather reminded us a little of back home as we were all feeling the breeze but that didn’t stop us from having an amazing time visiting the temples. Megan was particularly excited to find out that they were in fact Buddha temples, so big that it was like a small village in the middle of a busy city. The temples were so overwhelming and beautiful. We all had the chance to use incense sticks and were then shown how the locals pray to their Buddha; by holding the lit sticks in front of your fore head and bowing three times whilst praying. Some members of the group even had the opportunity to take selfies with a monk, who was also eager to take selfies on his own phone with us all. There were a lot of monks gathering at one particular temple and after being abruptly stopped from walking in we found out that the monks were in fact inaugurating into monk hood.
Some of the girls had the pleasure of experiencing a different type of loo whilst visiting the temples and they could only describe this as “one long trough”. They had trouble figuring out the “trough etiquette” and didn’t know which way to face without having to make eye contact with one another whilst doing their business.
After our wonderful visit at the temples, we arrived at the beautiful Pavilion Gardens. We were lucky enough to get a small buggy to drive us around after Yang and director Chu haggled the driver and agreed a great price for us students! We admired the picturesque scenery and had the chance to take lots of photos. We have all become used to getting random people taking photos of us, but we were surprised when Rachel was whisked off for a private photo shoot with a group of Chinese women. She was shocked to hear that one of the lovely ladies was touching her chest whilst the photos were being taken, Rachel didn’t mind ha!
2pm and our growling bellies were glad to hear it was time for lunch at the restaurant called maomao smoked meat house where we ate delicious meat and veg filled pancakes from the traditional lazy Susan. It was then time to check into our hotel and whilst waiting for our room keys Allyson buzzed with excitement as she spotted the coffee machine. The hotel rooms were spectacular to say the least, the beds felt like jumping into a cloud and we were all very grateful for an hour nap to rejuvenate ourselves before carrying on with the rest our of our fun filled day.
The sun finally came out, just in time for our next activity riding the cable cars across the river. The views of Harbin were amazing. The group of us in the first cable car were unsure whether to get off on the other side as our trip is getting planned for us but we soon came to realise that we were supposed to get off, so we experienced sun island from the views of the cable car haha! Yang found this hilarious! Following this we took a long stroll along the water front where we enjoyed dancing with some of the locals and listening to some great singers whilst the sun set. The night was still young when we made our way to ‘Orient King of Dumplings’, where some of us experienced dumplings for the first time and we left a lot of empty plates… yummy!! We walked our dinner off and watched some amazing street performances and popped into a couple of souvenir shops. After a long but fantastic day, we were all eager to climb into our comfy hotel beds and rest up for another great day at Harbin.
Blog post by Emily Adair on Saturday 15th June