The winters are long and brutal up north so you do end up hibernating, involuntarily. However, you can find that there is loads to do besides bar hopping and drinking warm Harbin beer. I stumbled on a leaflet: Swan Lake (Russian Kremlin Theatre) was coming to town! I had never been to a ballet before so I thought, this is it!
I often take the bus because it’s cheaper. Not on this evening. I was Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman – I had to take a taxi! I treated myself to a sushi dinner before the show; yes, it was a splurge day! I arrived early so I could take some photos and enjoy a cup of coffee in the theatre foyer.
The architecture is magnificent! I stood in the foyer in silence in absolute awe; enjoying the general spleandor.
I hadn’t been excited in a while so this show could not have come at a better time. New experiences always replenish your enthusiasm and sense of adventure. Well, the ballet certainly did. Of course, I did not know what to expect except for the routines I had seen in Black Swan the night before.
A beautiful, well-executed show that was worth every penny! I could do it again and again!
So, there is more to Harbin than Bar Street and the Ice festival. You just need to search a little deeper.
Where to stay: Well, I live in Harbin but I would recommend Agoda to book hostels around China.
Transportation: The subway and bus combo is cheap and reliable. Taxis are also in abundance, just make sure the driver uses the meter. It should cost no more than CNY 50 from the Qiaonan Jie area. If you take the bus, take the bus 119 from XiDaQiao to SongBei on the other side of the river. You can walk from the final stop or you could take bus 35 from the SongBei stop.
How to purchase tickets: I use the official website to see what’s on but I purchase the tickets at the Grand Theatre ticket office. It is tricky to purchase the tickets online if you do not have an ID.
Tip: Do it!
A friend invited me out to see the grand Opera House. I absolutely love design and architecture that I had heard of the Harbin Opera House before I even had the opportunity to leave South Africa.
Well, we both had the day off, it was a beautiful sunny day albeit the 2 degrees celsius!
I took three buses to get over the bridge to the location. I could have taken two – my mistake. I took bus 119 to connect to the bus 35 at Song Bei Road. Really easy. I even read that you can take the subway to Teiping Lu then take the bus 35 from there. I have noticed that many foreigners prefer to take the taxi (too costly) because it’s more convenient, saves time or you just show the driver the address without an effort. I prefer the buses, to be honest. They are inexpensive (1RMB) and if you had to get lost you get off the bus, cross the road and take the exact same bus to where you started. Then, back to the drawing board. Or, take a taxi 🙂
I made it there after a lovely walk back to here I needed to be, the Opera House. I missed my stop. I was stopped by an overly excited Chinese woman – a photo with me, of course. She kept on saying how beautiful (mei nu) was so I couldn’t say no.
Well, the Opera House is all that and more. Except for the ticket office. So, the friend and I wanted to know whether we can walk in to the building for a bit of sightseeing. There was a bit of confusion of “we can but we can’t”. Then, we wanted to know how to get tickets for the shows (I really want to see a ballet showing at the start of November). This ballet could be on showing at the end of October. Or, not. Could we get tickets? The ticket office didn’t know. Well, that left us confused. So what do you do at a ticket office if you can’t get the schedule or purchase tickets or enquire about future shows. Sanch and I walked out thinking, “did that just really happen?”
We continued to meander about and get some good shots.
It was time for an early dinner and head back home.
After spending half the day outside, I now have sniffles and a sore throat. Layer up!
PS: crediting Sanch for his photography skills…