哈尔滨有坎坷的现代历史。1896年以前，只是一个很小的渔村。 可是第十九世纪末，俄罗斯工人开始建造跨西伯利亚铁路：在哈尔滨的铁路连接贝加尔湖和符拉迪沃斯托克。在日俄战争(1904-5年），哈尔滨是俄罗斯军事行动的基地。1917年，为了逃避俄罗斯改革，许多俄罗斯来到哈尔滨，因此当时哈尔滨有在苏联之外最多的俄罗斯人口。因此，在大街上俄式建筑触目皆是。比方说， 圣索菲亚教堂是城市里最大和最漂亮的教堂：它的深绿的穹顶真的让人吃惊：很容易想象站在莫斯科！我也尝了尝俄式食品， 比如罗宋汤，真的很好吃.
After seventeen weeks, I’m finally on holiday. It’s now -5 degrees in Beijing, so people recommended that I go to somewhere warmer like Yunnan, Hong Kong or Macao. But instead I decided to go somewhere even colder: Harbin! I decided to go because from December through to February each year Harbin hosts the International Snow and Ice Festival, which is one the best and most famous tourist attractions in China.
Harbin has an tumultuous history. Before 1896, it was just a small fishing village, but at the end of the 19th century, Russian workers started to build Trans-Siberian railway: Harbin’s railway connected Lake Baikal and Vladivostok. In 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War, Harbin was the base for Russian military activities. Then in 1917, many Russians came to Harbin to escape the Russian Revolution, thus Harbin had the largest Russian population outside the Soviet Union at that time. Therefore, on the streets there are Russian-style buildings everywhere. For example, Saint Sophia’s Cathedral is the city’s biggest and most beautiful church: it’s dark green dome really is jaw-dropping! I could have quite easily be standing in Moscow! I also tried some Russian delicacies, like borsch, which was tasty.
Also, Harbin’s International Snow and Ice Festival is the word’s biggest Snow and Festival. In 1984, at the first festival, it only attracted Chinese tourists. But since then, it has become an international event, attracting people from all over the world. In 2018, 18 million people came to Harbin. The festival comprises of Sun Island and Snow and Ice World. Sun Island has various snow sculptures: despite their large size, they are nonetheless very intricate. As it became darker, I headed over to the Snow and Ice world which had full-size illuminated buildings, made up of 2-3 metre thick ice cubes cut directly from Songhua River. The buildings included temples, Big Ben and the Colosseum! Although it was bitterly cold, and so my phone quickly ran out of battery, I still managed to taken some photos: the contrast between the multi-coloured buildings and the black sky really was something special. But after two or three hours, having seen nearly all the sculptures, I really wanted to go back to the hotel: even wearing three jumpers, two jackets, and four pairs of jeans, I felt absolutely freezing.
The Unit 731 Mausoleum is the most pitiable attraction in Harbin. In WW2, Japanese soldiers carried out atrocious experiments: 3000 Chinese and enemy soldiers were guinea pigs for the experiments; they were deliberately infected with the plague, choler and anthrax. Some of the more horrific experiments include vivisection without anaesthesia. Seeing all the used medical equipment, the photos showing the prisoners with the awful symptoms as well as the accounts from the prisoners moved me greatly. But I also felt angry because I learned that very few Japanese generals and soldiers who carried out these experiments were brought to justice since the post-war American and Japanese governments made a secret deal whereby those Japanese involved got immunity in return for giving the US the results of their experiments.