I wanted to travel by train across the Eurasia continent from Russia to Portugal. Even so, there wasn’t enough time to travel and I had been to Portugal in 1999. Anyway, I selected the Chinese Eastern Railway, not the Siberian Railway.
BTW, visa application for Russia was very difficult to get. I had to submit a precise itinerary and train tickets. I even need reference letters from the hotel where I booked. At last travel agent helped me to get the visa. *29/8/10
Chinese Eastern Railway connects Vladivostok in Russia and Harbin in China. I started my journey from Vladivostok. First, I went around the city. Russian architecture was different from European ones. These buildings were painted in pastel colours, and were charming. The view of the bay from the hill was very nice. Development had been progressing for the APEC summit in 2012.
BTW, no matter what others say, local cuisine such as borsch and pirozhki were very tasty. *30/8/10
The previous evening, my train left at Vladivostok and stopped at Ussuriysk. I didn’t know why, but the train stayed there for a night. After sunrise, the train ran again. Passengers got off once at Grodekovo on the border and the train all changed to railway wheels for China, because the track gauge in China was different from Russia. I waited for 6 hours for the immigration inspection and departure, seeing cargo trains from the pedestrian bridge.
BTW, the border buffer zone’s forest was wide. *31/8/10
Finally, the train reached Suifenhe. I got off the train and went to Chinese passport control. I was very worried if I would be able to pass immigration, because there was China. I remembered the last trip to Morocco, but I got a stamp without incident. As the train stopped there for 4 hours, I went to the city centre. Many locals set off firecrackers. It suddenly turned lively from quiet Russia. Chinese were active. Anyway, the train arrived in Harbin in the morning.
BTW, so many countries, so many customs. *1/9/10
Harbin city was constructed by Russians. There were many pastel architectures as well. It felt like I was still in Russia, but I could have tasty boiled dumplings. It’s a famous dish in Northeast China. I like it very much, so I had it with zhenjiang vinegar for every meal. Anyway, I stayed in Harbin for two days. After that, I visited Changchun, Baishishan and Jilin.
BTW, I could feel the cultural differences. The climate is the same, but the cuisine is different. *2-5/9/10