Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seeing Russia

The camp ended on a Wednesday but we didn't have train tickets until Friday night.  That isn't unusual at all.  Getting tickets is a tricky business, especially trying to get tickets all together.
So we hung out at the camp one more day for a lovely day of rest.  Then we got on the bus to Man Zhou Li.  Man Zhou Li is a border town on the Russia/China border.  It's the town where they change the wheels on the trains since the tracks in Russia are different than China.  We took the long distance bus to Man Zhou Li from the camp.  On the way, we could see Russia across the river and we saw many lovely birds on the grasslands.
Man Zhou Li was a rather odd place to be.  It doesn't "look" like China at all.  Rather, it looks like a Russian or European City.  Signs are in Russian or Chinese.  Some are in Mongolian.  There seems to be very little industry or tourism except for shopping.  It was packed full of Russians and we were spoken to in Russian continually. There were fur shops all over the place.
Part of our goals as travelers is to go to places that we are unlikely to be able to return to or places that few foreigners have been.  Man Zhou Li certainly fit that to a T!
We went to the Russian/Chinese border.  Our taxi driver told us that it was rather a rip to pay the money to go inside so we didn't.  I rather regret that decision.  We did stand on the outside in the pouring rain and had our picture taken.

Yes, it was cold and raining hard!

Old steam train.

This was out in the countryside.  It's a place of worship for Mongolians.  It actually was quite dark and a little scary looking.

Man Zhou Li boasts that it has the world's largest Matrushka dolls.  There is a huge one in the middle with a Chinese, Mongolia and Russian side.  All over the grounds were smaller dolls from different countries or with different themes.  They were really quite beautiful.

This was a large art museum next to the matrushka dolls.  One the grounds were huge statues.  It was expensive and we were dripping wet so we didn't go in.

Most of the buildings in the city had Russian architecture.  There were really charming statues all over the place and pretty lights.

Russians posing on the statues.  We were told that  other Westerner's rarely go to Man Zhou Li as it is so isolated.

The building are lit up at night and there is a beautiful light show.  Again, there was no sense of being in China!  It was a very surreal feeling of being in a different country while surrounded by Chinese people.

Twenty four hours after we got there, we left and took a  train to Hai La Er.  We met a friend there and went to the Russian market.  That was a great and fun market to shop at and we were pleased with what we bought.  Then we got on the night train to ShenYang and came back home.


jjnscat49 said...

gorgeous! really unusual

Alida said...

WOW!! How fun!