Harbin - Sun Island

by - 20:12

Harbin Sun Island Scenic Area 太阳岛风景区

Harbin Sun Island is one the landmark attractions of Harbin, and it is also the venue for the much acclaimed ice and snow festival which is held every year in winter. It is also rated as a AAAAA tourist attraction by the China tourism authorities, probably by virtue of the ice and snow festival rather than actual scenery.

There are four ways of getting to Sun Island, which is bounded by the Songhua River and water canals. The first method would be to board a ferry from Stalin Park on the opposite bank. Alternatively, one can also walk across the frozen Songhua River in winter. A more interesting way would be to take a cable car ride from Stalin Park, while the more mundane method would be to cross the Songhua River Bridge by bus or car. Unfortunately, we were stuck with the last option since we were travelling as a tour group.

Songhua River Bridge 松花江大桥

The Songhua River bridge is an elaborate concrete bridge which was designed by the Russians in 1986 to provide a convenient connection from the city centre's Daoli district to the Songbei district across the river. From the top view, the circular up and down ramps which exist only at the Daoli district end of the bridge causes the bridge to resemble a pair of scissors. This has the literal meaning of cutting up the Songhua River which was a significant barrier before the bridge was built.

Photobucket

Encompassing 38 square kilometres, buying a ticket for the electric trams or trains to get around the park is definitely recommended (RMB20 (~S$4.10)).
Photobucket

A pair of very cute dragon plant 'sculptures' at a roundabout in the park.
Photobucket

Man-made waterfall
Photobucket

An artificial limestone cavern cafe carved out behind the waterfall. Although it looks rather fake as compared to a real limestone cave, the waterfall curtain does allow one to rest from the scorching summer heat. Summer temperatures in Harbin seldom exceed 30 degrees Celsius, but due to the current La Nina effect, it rose to 40 degrees during our visit!
Photobucket

Man-made lake with boardwalk and a wooden sampan thrown in for good measure.
Photobucket

Squirrel Island 松鼠岛

Squirrel island is a small island which is surrounded by a moat in the park. The star attraction at this spot is naturall squirrels which enjoy free roam within the confines of the forested park.

Draw bridge to the island. A pair of heavy revolving doors at the main entrance completes the defence to prevent the furry mammals from escaping.
Photobucket

It is relatively simple to spot squirrels in the park. The easiest way would be to listen out for the sounds of the squirrels chewing seeds or nuts. Here a squirrel is busy trying to crack a nut in his mouth in the relative safety of a tree branch.
Photobucket

The squirrel sunflower seed eating competition is in full swing as these 2 plump squirrels struggle to outdo each other in eating the most number of seeds. These normally shy creatures transform totally upon the sight of food and even allows visitors to pet and carrass them!
Photobucket

Kiosks are available in the park to sell packets of sunflower or pumpkin seeds to visitors who wish to personally feed the squirrels.
Photobucket

A shy squirrel secretly chewing on a seed under the cover of a bush.
Photobucket

Sun Island Ice & Snow Sculpture Art Museum 太阳岛冰雪艺术馆

This museum was set up to preserve the winning ice sculptures from the previous ice and snow festival, thus making it possible for visitors to have a glimpse of the famous colourfully lit ice sculptures even in summer. Set at a bone-chilling -18 degrees Celsius, winter parkas are also available for rent to visitors to the museum.

As this year is the year of the Tiger, ice sculptures in the form of tigers feature prominently in the display.
Photobucket

The ice sculptures are carved using ice blocks hewn from the frozen Songhua River.
Photobucket

Snow white welcomes visitors to the next section of the museum. LED lights are used extensively to simulate the effect of frozen trees.
Photobucket

Fancy having a cup of hot chocolate in the freezing cold at an ice cafe?
Photobucket

Violinist in coloured ice
Photobucket

An ice carving of the London cityscape which prominently features landmarks such as the London Eye.
Photobucket

The political turmoil which had plagued Bangkok in recent times provided the inspiration for Thai artists to produce a sculpture which was entitled "Peace Praying Buddha".
Photobucket

A pair of ice sculptures engaged in the ancient art of fencing in this work produced by Chinese artists.
Photobucket

Ice Temple. The size of the exhibits displayed in this 5,000 sq metre hall is limited by the height of the 2 storey complex.
Photobucket

Russian Town 俄罗斯风情小镇

Russian Town is a former Russian settlement in Harbin, and the houses had been preserved for visitors to have a glimpse of an authentic Russian town. This town is jointly managed by both the Chinese and Russian governments.

Entrance to the town with signs in both Chinese and Cyrillic.
Photobucket

Numerous amorous statues which depicts a typical Russian lifestyle are scattered throughout the park. In addition, Russian folk songs are also played in the park as background music.
Photobucket

A typical 1950s Russian timber house. Traditional houses are constructed out of red pine which is abundant in the Russian Far East.
Photobucket

Dining area which also serves as a living room.
Photobucket

This small cottage used to be the town police station and jail.
Photobucket

An antique World War II era Chinese radio set.
Photobucket

Torture equipment in the holding cell.
Photobucket

Camping in a caravan is a popular holiday option for Russians.
Photobucket

Town Bakery. The statue of the Russian woman is holding what is known as a Da Lie Ba, which is one of the unique foodstuff in Harbin.
Photobucket

The Da Lie Ba 大列巴 is Harbin's answer to the French baguette, and is typically a very large round bread that weighs a hefty 2.5kg. It is crisp on the outside but soft in the inside. The bread is usually presented in a hemp drawstring bag, and has a shelf live of approximately a week.
Photobucket

Russia is often instantly associated with its high grain vodka, which is the poison of choice for many of its inhabitants who seek a quick relief against the biting cold in winter. With a mind popping 40%-50% proof, it is little wonder that one can easily get extremely drunk after a tipple!
Photobucket

Besides the usual rectangular glass bottle packaging, vodka bottles are also cleverly hidden in one of Russian's other famous export - a matryoshka doll.
Photobucket

Matryohka dolls were initially created in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin, and gained world fame after it was exhibited at the Paris World Expo in 1900. There are basically 2 main kinds of these unique dolls. The first kind are based on a church theme and patterns are burnt onto unpainted wood. The second and more familiar type are the wholly painted dolls which often depict peasant girls in traditional Russian dress. These 2 types are shown below, as well as the unique entrance 'ticket' to the park.
Photobucket

It is a little known fact that Russia is the world's third largest exporter of chocolates after Switzerland and Belgium. Russian chocolate differs from the usual chocolate by having an extremely high cocoa content and very little flour and milk is used in the processing. Thus, the chocolates would not melt or soften even when left at room temperatures in summer! Not surprisingly, the most popular flavour is vodka according to the staff.
Photobucket

Former Soviet Union leaders - Khruschev, Stalin & Lenin from left to right - painted in the form of matryoshka dolls. The 'Russian leaders' series of dolls usually depict Lenin as the smallest and the current leader as the largest doll. It is interesting to see Stalin being depicted without his signature moustache.
Photobucket

Cute wooden statues of a railway minature in the park.
Photobucket

Siberian Tiger Park 东北虎林园

The Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin is the world's largest conservatory for the endangered Siberian Tiger. Hundreds of these majestic large cats are housed in different enclosures according to their age group, and visitors get to have a close up view of them in a safari style. This usually takes the form of an half hour ride in of the specially equipped touring buses which have some windows replaced by grilles. The bus driver would double as a safari guide and point out the location of the tigers to the passengers. 黑A04386 is one of the few Higer KLQ6728 buses which have been modified for the task.
Photobucket

The entrance to the enclosures are guarded by a pair of sequential and electrically controlled sliding mesh doors to prevent tigers from escaping.
Photobucket

One of the few tigers which were awake and prowling around the enclosure.
Photobucket

A tiger which had just awaken and turned around to investigate the source of noise that had disrupted its noontime slumber.
Photobucket

Unfortunately, most of the tigers were spotted dozing off in the shade to escape the summer heat.....
Photobucket

...while some of the tigers took the opportunity for a dip in the pool to cool themselves
Photobucket

In addition to tigers, there are also female lions being reared in this compound in a bid to create a mixed offspring between a Tiger and a Lion (known as a Liger). However, such cases are extremely rare as it is hard for these 2 species to develop affections towards each other.
Photobucket

Older tigers are segregated from the main population and housed in seperate walled enclosures instead. These are then seperated from the public by two layers of wire fence which posed a challenge in obtaining good shots of these creatures.
Photobucket

Visitors to the park also have an opportunity to cuddle and take a photo with a tiger cub for a fee.
Photobucket

Next Post: Mudanjiang Jingpo Lake

Previous Post: Harbin - City Impressions

You May Also Like

0 comments