I tagged along with a classmate to Old Harbin. I brought my tote bag along in preparation for all the cheap, delicious snacks and treats that I would buy. We set off by bus and meandered through the stampede of vehicles on Dazhi street (5 lanes) and city center until we finally hit the old part of town. We actually had no idea which stop to get off at…which isn’t that out-of-the-ordinary. We spoke with locals who helped us figure out our way. When I saw the deteriorating Baroque style buildings peak through the alleyways that we passed, I knew we were close.
Rotting Baroque Downtown
This neighborhood was influence by the Russian population of Harbin in the early 1900s, but this style of architecture fits more wit late 19th century Russia. Besides the renovated parts of town (Zhongyang Street), most of these old buildings are peeling away their once vibrant exterior. While walking through Old Harbin, I felt like I wasn’t in China. But, I didn’t feel like I was in Europe either. It more felt like an eerie combination of post-apocalyptic film and steam punk.
We walked to Harbin’s best bun shop (张包铺－Zhangbaopu) to grab some lunch and then went to the market to buy 小吃 (snacks) and treats. It was a bit early for the night rush. The most interesting think I saw at the market were in-midst cocooning caterpillars. They were brown/green and looked fat and juicy. I did not buy one, but maybe next time.
Early for the Night Rush
Pigeons for Sale
Alleyway in Old Harbin
After buying Taiwanese pastries, we walked to the Bird, Flower, Fish market. I entered a little shops that were smaller than my freshman dorm room, but were crammed from floor to ceiling with cages filled with colorful birds. Outside had a row of vendors that sold fighting fish, gold fish, prawn, crab, and fish food. After the sun set, it became incredibly cold, which is a prevailing pattern these days. So, we headed back by bus to prepare for class the next day.